Sweden’s health minister has promised more support for gender identity clinics as it emerged that the number of children claiming to be in the wrong body has risen 100 per cent each year.
Louise Frisén, child psychiatrist at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, told Aftonbladet that in 2016, the gender investigation team saw 197 children who were interested in ‘transitioning’ to becoming the opposite sex.
“There’s a 100 per cent increase in numbers each year, and the people we’re seeing are younger and younger and more and more children are coming at very young ages,” she said, adding that “the increase is identical on the adult side of things, too,” she said.
Chief of Karolinska University Hospital’s gender identity team, Cecilia Dhejne, said the rise in children unhappy with having been born male or female reflects “greater openness” in Swedish society, but warned that resources are overstretched.
The problem in Sweden is that there’s a long wait for young people, both for initiating an investigation into their gender identity and then also for the different parts of treatment across the country after that.”
“It is worrying”, said the Stockholm-based sexologist, cautioning that “having to wait in a queue can worsen the mental health of transgender people”.
“It’s sad on an individual level when people feel bad about themselves, and on a wider level it’s much better that young people are able to get started with their lives so they can contribute to society,” said Ms. Dhejne.
Sweden’s Public Health Minister Gabriel Wikström said: “It is totally unacceptable that there are deficiencies in care for transgender people at every stage of treatment.”