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Tavistock Centre: NHS gender clinic ‘running conversion therapy for gay children’

The Tavistock Centre is the NHS’s only gender transition clinic for children (Picture: PA)

A psychologist who worked at the NHS’s only gender transition clinic for children spoke of his fears that it was running ‘conversion therapy for gay kids’. 

Dr Matt Bristow said he feared the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust was ignoring the possibility that boys and girls who said they wanted to change sex might be gay. 

Bosses have strongly refuted the claim, which emerged in witness statements for psychotherapist at the clinic Sonia Appleby, who is suing the trust. 

In an exit interview when he left the trust, which forms part of Appleby’s legal case, Bristow said that he was particularly concerned about gay children who were referred to the service having been bullied. 

In documents seen by The Times, he said he feared this may have motivated some young people to say they wanted to change sex and that he ‘tried hard not to let [them] get drawn into the service’. 

Bristow said he was one of several gay members of staff at the clinic who felt concerned that patients’ homosexuality was being ignored, and that four had left at the time of his exit interview. 

He told staff at the Tavistock clinic that they were doing ‘conversion therapy for gay kids’. 

He said that gay staff felt they ‘had to keep sexuality on the agenda, as otherwise it was completely ignored as a topic’. 

Sonia Appleby, a safeguarding lead at Tavistock, is suing the trust

The Tavistock clinic in London has been at the centre of controversy over its treatment of young people for gender dysphoria. 

There has been a huge rise in the number of children wanting to change sex over the last 10 years.

Miss Appleby is suing trust for allegedly ostracising her after raising concerns about the use of puberty blockers on children. 

 Ms Appleby told an employment tribunal last week she was ‘vilified’ for raising concerns about the safety of children undergoing treatment, which included the clinic referring people as young as 12 for puberty blocking drugs. 

The use of puberty blockers was banned in the UK last year by the High Court, which ruled that children under 16 could not give informed consent to such treatment. The judgement said clinics must obtain the court’s permission because such treatment was experimental. 

The case was brought by Keira Bell, a former patient who said she regretted the drugs she had received aged 16, when she thought she wanted to be a boy. An appeal against the ruling in the Bell case will be heard this week. 

A spokesman for the Tavistock told The Times: ‘The trust strongly refutes the claims. It will vigorously defend its position in the employment tribunal. The trust does not accept that it has penalised anyone for raising concerns.’

Metro.co.uk has contacted the trust for further comment.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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