A huge rise in children being referred to the NHS with gender identity issues has been revealed after a Nottinghamshire boy returned to the classroom as a girl.

The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) said that close to 1,000 under-18s were referred to the them in the UK in 2015-16.

The Nottinghamshire boy, who cannot be named, is just five-years-old.

Almost 200 of those referred were under 12, including one three-year-old and three four-year-olds.

“For So long, young people didn’t know help was avAILABLE”

Nottinghamshire’s Lisa Williamson is the author of a 2015 best-seller which tells the story of a transgender teenager.

She said: “For so long, young people didn’t know help was available. Many assumed they were alone and possibly the only person on earth who felt the way they did about their gender identity.”

Figures show that there were 875 more referrals to GIDS over the last year than in 2009-10.

 Total number of under-18s referred to GIDS

  • 94 in 2009-10
  • 139 in 2010-11
  • 204 in 2011-12
  • 307 in 2012-13
  • 463 in 2013-14
  • 673 in 2014-15
  • 969 in 2015-16

Lisa was formerly an administrator at GIDS and the young people she met while working there inspired her to write the fictional book, The Art of Being Normal.

She believes that the internet has played a large role in the increase of referrals.

She said: “It helps connect young people and let them know they are not alone and that there is somewhere to go for assessment if they wish to pursue that route.”

The increased coverage of transgender issues in 2015 may be another reason young people feel more comfortable coming forward about gender issues.

Lisa said: “Last year was a watershed in terms of increased coverage of transgender issues in the arts and media, much of it positive.

“This will have been a much-needed boost to many young people and perhaps given them the courage they need to speak to their parents or friends about how they are feeling and go on to seek help”

Nottinghamshire County Council has also recognised the need to support transgender children.

Colin Pettigrew, the authority’s director for children, families and cultural services, said: “Transgender is a characteristic protected by law and therefore head teachers across England continue to, and are required to, agree a clear plan to support the needs of transgender children and young people.”

GIDS takes referrals from GPs, paediatricians, mental health services and schools across the country.