A CHARITY representing young LGBT + people in Scotland has called on the Sandyford clinic to reverse its decision to pause the prescription of puberty blockers to under-18s.

Earlier this month NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which runs Scotland’s only gender identity clinic for children, announced that it would no longer be prescribing puberty blockers and hormone treatments to under-18s.

The decision was taken following the publication of the Cass Review – an independent review into gender identity healthcare being provided to children by NHS England.

Dr Hilary Cass, who conducted the review, said there was a lack of high-quality research into the use of puberty blockers and concluded that children had been let down by the “toxic” nature of discussions regarding transgender identities in the UK.

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She called on NHS England to pause the prescription of endocrine treatment and encouraged more trials to be conducted into the use of such treatment. 

However, her review has been subject to criticism from transgender advocacy groups who claim the absence of contributions from patients or practitioners of gender identity care have resulted in Cass presuming that “the best outcome would be that a child or young person doesn’t transition".

Now, LGBT Youth Scotland have said that Sandyford’s decision to no longer prescribe puberty blockers will “directly harm young people”.

A statement from the charity’s Trans Rights Youth Commission said: “As a youth commission we are hurt, frustrated, disappointed, and scared, but the first and foremost feeling is anger. We are angry.

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“We are angry that we have been abandoned yet again by a service that is supposed to protect and help us.

“We are angry that public opinion and perceptions appear to have once again swayed a service that should be putting young people at the front of all it does.

“We are angry at the lack of respect and empathy that is emanating from these services.

“Trying to access gender care in the NHS, regardless of age, is already an incredibly stressful and often demeaning experience.

“Our identity is put under unnecessary scrutiny by a team of strangers who try to decide if we are truly who we say we are when we are just trying to live our lives and access healthcare that makes us happy and comfortable in our bodies, healthcare that saves lives.

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“As a commission we feel this move from Sandyford is going to directly harm young people.

“Being transgender, especially in such a negative political climate, can have severe negative impacts on one’s mental health and accessing gender-affirming treatment can and has saved lives.

“This move will increase rates of bad mental health among transgender young people, it is going to continue to validate a society which is not supporting some of its most vulnerable members, and it is preventing young people from thriving.

“Being unable to access puberty blockers can force individuals to go through a process that they already know will make them uncomfortable and unhappy.

“Gender affirming care should be about respect for bodily autonomy and it should be about helping people reach their potential and to feel comfortable and safe in their own body. This move is not about that.

The National: The Sandyford clinic in GlasgowThe Sandyford clinic in Glasgow (Image: NQ)

“Furthermore, mental health services are already overloaded, we are seeing primary care services turn trans people away for non-gender related issues simply because they are worried about what to do with a trans person, and refusing to prescribe endocrine therapies for trans people under the age of 18 is simply going to add onto this pressure to other youth services.”

The Sandyford clinic said it would “continue to give anyone who is referred into the Young People Gender Service the psychological support that they require while we review the pathways in line with the findings”.

However, those seeking help from the clinic are subject to a lengthy waiting list, with young people waiting an average of three years before being seen for a first appointment.

It comes after the Scottish Government’s commitment to invest £9 million in gender identity healthcare services provided by NHS Scotland was delayed.

The money will now be delivered over five years instead of the initially announced three years.