Transgender kids: What is the right way to deal with the growing number of children exploring their gender identity?

  • 'Gender Speaker' Rikki Arundel explains the growing number of gender identities

ITV's Tonight, presented by Julie Etchingham, investigates the growing debate about transgender people - particularly among the young - and the pace of change around gender diversity in Britain.

When we decided to tackle the issue of kids and transgender for the Tonight programme - we knew we'd have to put our hard hats on.

Even putting an ad on social media for people to take part prompted a torrent of heated reaction. Rarely has a social issue sparked such ferocious debate.

The rapid increase in childhood referrals to gender identity clinics, and the pace of change in schools and in wider society, for some feels disconcerting and too much, too fast. There are now a bewildering array of gender identities available: you can choose between 71 of them when you sign up to Facebook.

But for those children and teenagers who've suffered in silence and confusion - this gender revolution is an incredibly important moment. It's allowed them to find a voice, and to find a way to navigate change in their young lives. And for them to expect acceptance in society.

increase in number of children referred to the Tavistock gender identity clinic in the last year

Not all of them will pursue change. The Tavistock Clinic - the country's leading service for treating gender dysphoria - say half the young people they see, in the end opt for no change at all.

As many parents and those in our older generation get to grips with the issue - we take a look at the debate and where it's got us so far.

We speak to a group of mums who think that the discussion of transgender issues in schools is simply putting unnecessary questions in kids' minds.

'Gender Speaker' Rikki Arundel - speaking to Julie Etchingham - trains businesses in the new language of gender Credit: ITV Tonight

We chat to "Gender Speaker" Rikki Arundel who trains businesses in the new language of gender. We speak to the Tavistock about how it's dealing with the astonishing rise in referrals - and what they make of it.

And crucially we speak to families and parents whose children are transitioning. How are they dealing with it? How have their schools and their schoolfriends reacted? And what lessons in compassion and understanding do they want us all to learn from their experience?

It is one of those moments in society you feel a sudden upsurge in pressure for change.

Watch Tonight: 'Trans Kids - the Right Response?' on Thursday 22nd February at 8pm on ITV. You can also watch it on the ITV Hub.

If you are a young person looking to speak to someone about any of the issues raised in the programme, you can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit