It is rare to read an article written about Dr Helen Webberley that does not mention her controversial work with the ‘12 year old’ to whom she prescribed gender affirming hormones, and for which she is currently under investigation by the GMC.
What I find amazing is that none of the journalists covering the story have ever attempted to reach out to me, the parent of the child in question. No one seems interested in how he is (he is now 14 and thriving by the way) and how we feel about what has happened to Dr Helen Webberley since she took the bold move of agreeing to help us when no one else would.
In light of recent press coverage, I felt compelled to add our voice to the mix.
My son is transgender and expressed this from the earliest age, with no influence or environmental factors at play. I can state this with utmost confidence as he grew up alongside his identical twin sister and was treated in exactly the same way.
After many years of expressing his discomfort with his birth gender, the situation came to a head when he was around nine, and our child broke down. He told us that he detested his birth name and that he wanted to be a boy. He was depressed and could not understand why he had been born in the wrong body. Having reached breaking point, we agreed to legally change his name to the one that he uses now, a name which he chose himself.
We took our child to see his GP who eventually referred him to the local Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (‘CAMHS’). And so, the long and painful process of trying to obtain the necessary treatment to allow him to progress in line with the correct puberty began.
I will not go into the detail but I can tell you, without any doubt, that had we continued along the prescribed pathway outlined by the NHS, which dictated that my son would need to wait until the age of 16 for gender affirming hormones, he would not be around today.
I often ask myself how this ‘gatekeeping’, which is so at odds with the approach taken in other countries, including Australia and the USA, and causes such distress to transgender children, is not a headline in its own right. Instead an accusatory finger is pointed at the one person who is brave enough to offer their help.
Since my son has been receiving treatment he has felt able to live the life of any teenage boy, not only does he have the strength to get out of bed in the morning but he does so with a smile on his face. He is genuinely happy and he looks forward to his future. I have the Webberleys to thank for that.
If I can take my son abroad to receive private treatment, why are we incapable of facilitating private treatment here in the UK? Surely, if we have doctors who are willing to help and who are competent, professional and thorough, they should be allowed to step in – rather than being hung out to dry for daring to question the approach taken by the NHS?