Clinic consultation

‘Sturgeon’s Tavistock’ clinic offers trans treatments not backed by ‘hard evidence’

NHS England is reviewing its treatment of trans children with Dr Hilary Cass, former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, recently publishing a damning report on the care of trans children.

The Scottish government said it would review Dr Cass’ findings, but did not commit to modifying its services as a result.

In the online webinar, hosted by an NHS Clinical Network and looking at how to deal with offenders with mental health issues, attendees were given an overview of the services offered by Sandyford.

The clinician suggested that the term ‘biological sex’ was not used at the clinic, with staff instead referring to people ‘assigned male at birth or female at birth’.

Trans men can be referred for a mastectomy after just one initial mental health assessment, which may involve showing patients what she described as a “childlike” picture of a “gender unicorn,” a- she told her colleagues.

She described a four-step journey from an initial referral, when a mental health assessment is performed, to patients opting for full genital sex reassignment surgery. Children as young as 16 have been approved for double mastectomies in Scotland.

Although she said there was the “option” of offering further psychology sessions to patients with distress or mental health issues directly related to their gender identity, in most cases, This does not happen.

“We are not a mental health service”

“We’re not a mental health service, which I think can also be a common misconception,” she said. “It’s because there is psychology and psychiatry in the service, that we offer a kind of mental health service, which we don’t.

“Our main function is to assess whether people are ready for treatment and to put them on treatment.”

Describing the mental health assessment process later in the session, after being asked about the ethics of performing procedures that resulted in infertility, she said, “The entire assessment is based on this person’s self-assessment.

“We can only follow what they tell us. This is not a forensic assessment about social work, school and all those things. You just follow what they tell you.

“It’s ethical…As long as we say that, and if it changes later, then that’s all the information we have at the time of writing, if you will. That’s a huge concern for people, but that’s what it is right now, unfortunately.

Discussing the evidence to justify Sandyford’s services, she said: ‘A lot of it is an emerging evidence base. There aren’t a lot of research papers, even in preparation for this conference, you know, whatever area of ​​trans health you’re looking into, there’s a very small number of papers.

“This is something we hope to change, particularly in light of all the work going on within the Scottish Government at the moment, and hopefully Scotland will be able to produce a strong evidence base for the treatment we offer.”