Children as young as seven will get transgender treatment on the NHS, according to plans seen by The Telegraph.
In details of the new service to replace the controversial Tavistock clinic, NHS England has set out how it will limit the use of puberty blockers and ban activists and teachers from referring children for treatment.
For the first time, it has set a minimum age of seven for referral to the gender identity clinics.
These children will be offered psychological support and therapy that will focus on issues that may have led to their feelings about their gender.
However, experts have warned that the age restriction could still put young children with mental health problems on a “pathway to medical transition”.
Campaigners welcomed the “move toward an evidence-based approach”, but said there was still work to be done to ensure children are kept safe.
The NHS announced last year that it would be closing the Tavistock transgender clinic after a review by Dr Hilary Cass found it was “not safe”.
It was the only NHS transgender clinic treating children and concerns were raised that young people were being rushed down a medical pathway.
The clinic is being replaced by a set of regional centres that will be led by medical doctors, rather than therapists, and consider the impact of other conditions such as autism and mental health issues.
The move came amid growing concern about the impact of gender ideology on children, including in schools where some were being socially transitioned without their parents’ consent.
NHS England said that a new service was needed because there was “scarce and inconclusive evidence to support clinical decision-making” at the Tavistock clinic.
As part of the new approach, medics have been reminded that for “most” young people, the feeling of being in the wrong body is just a “phase” and does not persist into adulthood.
Officials have now set out their plan for how children will be able to access the service, which has been sent to experts for their input. The plans have been seen by The Telegraph.
The plans state: “Children under seven years of age may not be expected to have sufficiently developed their intellectual understanding of, and comprehension of, sex and gender to be able to understand the reasons for, and potential consequences of, a referral to a specialist gender incongruence service.”
By seven, children will “be more established within school, and education professionals and school nurses will be able to contribute to a general observational view as to the appropriateness of a referral”.