The number of calls to charity helpline, Childline, about gender issues has reached record levels.
The NSPCC’s 24-hour service has reported 2,769 counselling sessions with children with gender dysphoria in 2015 to 2016. The number of sessions has more than doubled since Childline began recording statistics in 2012 to 2013.
The charity also reported that children as young as 11 are turning to Childline because they feel they were born the wrong gender.
This year, the charity has revealed that young trans people have told them that they have suicidal thoughts, self-harmed or suffered from mental health issues, which often stemmed from abuse, bullying and a lack of support.
A 13-year-old transgender boy told Childline: “I’m being bullied on my social network account about being transgender and it’s awful.”
“They constantly send me hateful messages and tell me to kill myself.”
“I think it’s someone at school as they seem to know things about me. I have tried blocking them but they make new accounts so I just can’t escape it.”
A 16 year old transgender girl also told Childline the struggle with confiding in others and of frustration with mental health services. She said, “I hate my body and feel hopeless and frustrated by mental health services.”
“It’s really difficult to talk to my parents as they don’t understand. I can’t cope with another year like this one.”
The NSPCC are now calling for a more supportive and ‘open’ society, where people don’t feel ashamed or scared to come forward about their concerns.
Speaking about the figures, Peter Wanless, CEO at NSPCC, said, “We cannot call ourselves a modern society if we stigmatise children just because they feel different.”
“It is vital that children have support otherwise, as they tell us all too often, they suffer.”
“When a child is made to feel ashamed about who they are, it can trigger serious mental health issues and crippling shame.”
“It’s vital young people are confident that if they speak out they will be able to try and navigate these confusing and complex feelings without also having to fight prejudice and abuse.”
“Adults must support a child as they explore what they’re feeling and guide them to get the right help when necessary.”