Gender distress and children


Sir, – I want to thank Colm Keena for his excellent, nuanced and robust exploration piece, “Gender Distress Treatment in Young People: A Highly Charged Debate”, (Weekend Review, June 26th).

There are many important points in the article to consider for those of us working with the transgender community – in particular adolescents, too many to address here. But what is paramount is that while this debate rages, the needs of the young people looking for help are being lost.

People like Ronan Burke who was interviewed for the piece, who, thanks to there not being a fit-for-purpose system for the healthcare of gender dysphoric or gender questioning children, has been left to “age out” of the system, and lives with the daily repercussions.

Then there are those adolescents who identify as trans and then go on to desist but in the meantime will go through torment and confusion, while the appropriate care is not there for them. Dr Paul Moran states in the article that “regret is unusual”, but this can probably no longer be said to be the case. As an example, on the Reddit Detrans group which had a membership of 8,000 in February this year, there is as of June 28th, 20,600 members. That is one website.

For this reason, coupled with the climbing numbers of adolescents currently presenting with gender dysphoria or as gender questioning, we need to get this absolutely right. Because there is nuance; because WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) acknowledges that not all adolescents with dysphoria will be trans; and because there are people like Ronan – we need a clear, fit for purpose service for children and adolescents, in line with child development, best practice and safety guidelines, and we need it now.

– Yours, etc,


MSc Psychotherapy,

Dip Child Psychology IACP,


Dublin 12.