20 transgender children from Southern Trust including South Tyrone convinced they are living in the wrong body

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A total of 20 children in the Southern Trust area have been given support by the NHS because they believe they were born in the wrong body.

Figures released this week by the Department of Health reveal that the under-eighteen year-olds attended a ‘transgender identity clinic’ otherwise known as the Gender Identity Dysphoria Service - Knowing Our Identity.

Belfast Trust has given support to the most children identifying themselves as potentially transgender - 35, while the Southern Trust, which includes South Tyrone had the lowest number of referrals.

In all 134 under-eighteens have accessed the service across Northern Ireland.

The confidential NHS support service dealing with transgender children under 18 was established in Belfast in August 2014 and received 30 referrals in its first year.

Since 2006, there have been 1467 referrals for people of all ages to the Gender Identity Service, which is a regional service based in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Across the UK, the number of children referred to gender identity clinics has doubled in the last year.

Children as young as three were among the 1,419 under-16s who received support during 2015/16.

That’s an increase from the 697 children the previous year who believe they were born in the wrong body.

Across the UK the number of children aged 10 or under referred to the NHS because of transgender feelings has more than quadrupled in five years.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust said referrals over the period included 47 children aged five or under, and two children aged three. Parents are now having to wait up to nine months to take their child to a clinic after being referred by their GP.

Figures from the Gender Identity Development Service show they treated three children aged three last year.

Children and their parents talk to psychologists, psychiatrists and experts at the clinics as part of consultations.