The amount of treatment that your child has will depend on how strong and long-lasting are their feelings of gender dysphoria. However, all children and their families should be offered counselling and support.
If you are under 16, you may be offered psychological therapy to help you cope with the discomfort you feel about your gender identity. This may be offered through your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, to whom you should ask your GP to refer your child. Their help may involve working with the whole family, and sometimes with schools as well. Access the CAMHS website within the Belfast Trust by clicking here. If appropriate, your child could then be referred to the Regional Service for Gender Variant Children and Transgender Adolescents in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. It may be possible to be referred to the only specialist clinic for young people with gender identity issues at the Tavistock and Portman in London.
Some young people who are referred there may be offered hormone blockers in addition to psychological therapy. Hormone blockers delay the physical changes of puberty, thus giving the young person time to decide whether to live as a man or woman in the long term. The age at which hormonal treatment may be offered has been lowered from 16 to 12 since January 2011, under a research study that is being carried out by the Tavistock and Portman into the effects of hormone blockers earlier in puberty, but 16 is the usual age at which hormones are usually made available.
The amount of treatment that a young adult has will depend on how strong and long-lasting are their feelings of gender dysphoria. However, all teenager, young adults and their families should be offered counselling and support.
From the age of 16, in addition to the support of CAMHS, your GP, and the Regional Service for Gender Variant Children and Transgender Adolescents, if you want further treatment, you may be offered hormonal medication (hormones to make you more masculine or more feminine). This would be following an assessment. The decision to start hormonal medication requires very careful consideration because some of the physical changes that occur as a result of taking hormones cannot be reversed, such as the lower voice and increase in facial hair from male hormones. Access the CAMHS website within the Belfast Trust by clicking here.
Currently, the only centre that can prescribe hormonal treatment on the NHS to young people aged under 18 is the gender identity service at the Tavistock and Portman in London.
Once your child reaches adulthood at 18 years of age, they can begin the process of gender confirmation surgery, which will change their gender irreversibly (also known as transition). Not all young people who experience gender dysphoria will go on to transition. For more information about hormone treatment and gender confirmation surgery, please see the section about the treatment/s available for adults, under our Guys and Girls sections.
From the age of 18, young people in Northern Ireland are also eligible for treatment in the Adult Gender Identity Clinic which is part of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. For further information on this please go to our section about adult treatments under Guys and Girls.