‘Trans’ sur­vey for 10-year-olds

Of­fi­cial NHS ques­tion­naire asks pri­mary school pupils if they feel com­fort­able with their gen­der

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Olivia Rudgard and Christo­pher Hope

TEN-YEAR-OLD chil­dren are be­ing asked by the NHS whether they are “com­fort­able with their gen­der” in of­fi­cial health sur­veys be­ing com­pleted in schools, it emerged last night.

The form given to chil­dren in Year 6 asks: “Do you feel the same in­side as the gen­der you were born with? (feel­ing male or fe­male).” Young­sters are also asked to tick a box to con­firm their true gen­der, with op­tions of “boy”, “girl” and “other”.

Par­ents have been told that the NHS sur­vey helps health­care work­ers and teach­ers de­velop “bet­ter ways to un­der­stand and sup­port” chil­dren who may be strug­gling with their iden­tity, but it is not known whether in­di­vid­ual chil­dren will be ap­proached for fur­ther sup­port based on their an­swers.

MPS and par­ents claimed the ques­tion was in­tru­sive and could con­fuse chil­dren, amid grow­ing con­cerns in some quar­ters over the in­clu­sion of trans­gen­der is­sues in pri­mary schools. The form, is­sued by the Lan­cashire Care NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, is thought to have been sent to schools in the county but it is un­clear whether the ini­tia­tive has been more widely adopted.

A tu­tor wrote to the The Daily Tele­graph ex­press­ing sur­prise at the line of ques­tion­ing in the sur­vey, which has tra­di­tion­ally been used to mon­i­tor weight, fit­ness and health is­sues.

Tim Loughton, the Tory MP and a for­mer chil­dren’s min­is­ter, con­sid­ered the ques­tion “deeply worrying”. He said: “At a time when chil­dren are grow­ing up and hav­ing to deal with all sorts of chal­lenges in the mod­ern world, they are be­ing asked to con­front their gen­der, which for many will be un­set­tling. Clearly we need to be sen­si­tive about the is­sue of gen­der and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion but forc­ing chil­dren to ques­tion whether they are the right gen­der so early on can be deeply desta­bil­is­ing.”

The NHS does not of­fer gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery to un­der-18s but chil­dren are some­times given hor­mone treat­ment. Crit­ics claim the med­i­cal risks are not well-enough un­der­stood, but ad­vo­cates say the trauma caused by go­ing through pu­berty in the “wrong” body can lead to men­tal health prob­lems and an in­creased risk of sui­cide.

Figures re­leased ear­lier this year by the Gen­der Iden­tity Devel­op­ment Ser­vice show that the num­ber of un­der-18s re­ferred to the clinic has in­creased from 314 in 2011 to 2,016 last year.

Lyn­d­sey Simp­son, a mother from Ley­land whose daugh­ter brought home a let­ter about the ques­tion­naire on Thurs­day from her Church of Eng­land school, said the 10-year-old had been in “such a state” about it.

“I don’t want some­one putting into my daugh­ter’s head that she might not be happy with her own gen­der,” she said. She said the head teacher had not been aware of the ques­tion and that he had been “very sup­port­ive”.

Ja­cob Rees-mogg, a Con­ser­va­tive MP, said: “The prob­lem is not just with the ques­tion but with the in­tru­sive sur­vey that in­vades peo­ple’s pri­vacy and as­sumes the state has a role in a mat­ter that ac­tu­ally be­longs within the fam­ily.”

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