CamdenNewJournal

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2,500 children face wait for Swiss Cottage gender identity clinic

'There's prejudice at every level - people's heart tends to be in the right places but the ignorance and lack of understanding is endemic'

21 July, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Jay Stewart from Gendered Intelligence

AROUND 2,500 children are waiting for professional advice from a general identity clinic in Swiss Cottage.

The queue to see experts for youngsters was revealed at Camden Council’s debate on LGBT+ rights following Pride month and came with a call for more funding in valued services.

Dr Jay Stewart, from Gendered Intelligence, a charity in King’s Cross which campaigns for help and support for young transgender people, was one of the guest speakers.

“We face significant challenges in society and young people significantly do,” he told councillors. “The transgender equality report from the women’s equality select committee – I think it was in 2016 – reported that trans people continue to face transphobia, increased mental health issues, discrimination in the provision of public and private services, and bullying in schools. There is a significant problem to access to healthcare at the moment.”

He added: “We have gender identity clinics and the gender identity development service, which is a service for young people under 18 but it has significant waiting times. There’s 2,500 people – young people – currently on waiting lists to get into the Tavistock [Centre, Belsize Lane], which is in Camden, and they are going to wait 18 months for their first appointment. Just to get their foot through the door. So I would say that is a significant issue.”

Camden has challenged itself to debate how best to help the LGBT+ just a few weeks after two women were beaten up for on a bus in West Hampstead; a homophobic attack which nobody has so far been charged with.

Mr Stewart said: “We want a world where people are celebrated in their gender identity and to see diverse gender identity and diverse gender expressions, more visible and more valued in society. We believe that trans, non-binary, and gender diverse and gender questioning people can live healthy, safe and fulfilled lives. Our mission is to increase understandings of gender diversity. We think education is at the heart of the change that we want to see, with young people but also professionals as well – to improve the quality of our lives.”

He added: “When we think about trans, I think it’s really important just to emphasise the diversity of what it means to be a trans person in society. There is an expression that we use which is that ‘there is no one way to be trans ‘ and I think that’s really important: Not to have a fixed view of what trans is and what trans looks like. We really want to hold a space where people who are non-binary, so people who don’t identify as a man or a woman, are also celebrated and are visible and valued by society. But also, if people haven’t got it quite worked out or they are kind of questioning, or they are changing or shifting their gender identities, this is the world we want to see, that all of that is ok. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Mr Stewart said Gendered Intelligence tried to tackle isolation among young people by introducing to them to others who are going through the same thing.

“Young people tell us that they’ve never met any other trans people before, and just hooking up with other trans people and being part of a community is absolutely vital,” he said. “There’s prejudice at every level. People’s heart tends to be in the right places but the ignorance and lack of understanding is endemic.”

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