Puberty-suppression: a treatment in its own right?

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Date(s) - 06/11/2015
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

SAP London


Bernadette Wren

A discussion of ethical and clinical dilemmas in the treatment of gender non-conforming children

Puberty-suppression- a treatment in its own right_2Gender identity refers to a sense of oneself as male or female (or both, or neither) and a more or less comfortable and settled relationship to one’s sexed body. Currently, there are no remotely adequate theories or models to explain the emergence and evolution of gender identity in childhood and adolescence. To support young people who experience a profound and distressing non-conforming gender identity, we need to draw on many frameworks, remaining sensitive to a broad range of developmental issues, being aware of the relevant empirical evidence (including neuro-biological research), and deploying a full repertoire of clinical insights and skills.

In this talk, Bernadette Wren will briefly outline the approach taken at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) towards the treatment with puberty-suspending medication of gender dysphoric young people, a move she has described as clinically and morally defensible (Wren 2002; Wren 2014). She will go on to discuss current ethical concerns about this treatment approach, in relation to the concepts of autonomy and choice.

Bernadette Wren trained as a Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Psychotherapist, and is Head of Psychology at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. She has degrees in philosophy and psychology and a continuing interest in the relevance of each discipline to the other. She works clinically with transgendered young people and their families in the Trust’s Gender identity Development Service. She teaches clinical research methods across a number of Tavistock courses and is currently an Honorary Senior Research Associate in the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at University College London.

Chair: Melissa Midgen

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