When Sue Evans took up her post at the Tavistock Clinic in 2003, she was thrilled to be joining what she saw as a pioneering team in the new Gender Identity Development Service, or GIDS.
Back then, the Tavistock was a byword for excellence, known throughout the world for its specialised therapy for patients with a range of mental health issues.
At GIDS, those treatments would benefit young people with gender dysphoria who felt their gender identity did not match their body.
‘The team was tiny,’ Sue recalls. ‘We met once a week in the GIDS office which used to be a little children’s clothes shop away from the main building of the Tavistock.’ There were between 70 to 90 referrals to GIDS per year, and the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs — only ever given to those aged 16 and over — was relatively uncommon.
Patients were mostly biological boys, many suffering from complex problems including autism and anxiety, or struggling with their sexuality — all territory that Sue, as a clinical nurse therapist, felt was vital to explore in full.
Read more: The stomach-drop moment I realised there was something terribly wrong at the Tavistock gender clinic: Nurse reveals why she blew the whistle on ‘experimental’ treatment on children as young as ten