The producer’s view – Emily Turner on 'The Gender Clinic'
I first met Dr. Polly Carmichael at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) a few weeks after Caitlin Jenner’s “coming out” photo shoot for Vogue. Trans stories were proliferating in the media, and the GIDS team was receiving an unprecedented number of referrals from young people questioning their gender identity. This felt like an important, and timely, film to be making.
For a team of doctors who work with children and young people in a confidential capacity, the idea of filmmakers bringing cameras to appointments and team meetings is a challenging one. Polly has recently told me she was very unsure in these early days. But, the team took the idea of making a documentary to their stakeholder group. The enthusiasm of the group’s teenagers was so strong that the team decided (very bravely) to open their doors to us.
The research stage was vital in this film. My own knowledge of trans issues was limited, so I spoke to lots of families who attend GIDS. I am grateful to everyone who shared their time, their stories and supported the film. Like the teenagers at the stakeholder group, almost everyone we spoke to was supportive of the film we hoped to make.
With the help of the management at the “Tavi” we worked out a series of protocols that we would work to when making the series. These were to keep the best interests of children and their families at the heart of everything we did. As part of this, we agreed we would work closely with each child’s case coordinator. In practice, this meant that we added to the already large workload of Polly and her team. They were, throughout the process, very patient with us.
Before we talked to Matt and Ash about filming we met the people who supported them in everyday life. Being on television for anyone is a huge decision, and one that must be thought through carefully. Their parents, their families and others in their lives thought it was a good idea – and so filming began. We stayed in close contact with all of these people throughout filming, and built good relationships with their teachers. We also spoke to Matt and Ash’s doctors at GIDS, and Polly, often – letting them know how filming was going, and building on these vital relationships of trust.
The film is the result of the collaboration of so many people. Whether it be the conversations we had on the phone during our research, the time given to us by clinicians and staff at The Tavistock, or the trust placed in us by the family’s who took part – we are very grateful to you all.
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