Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July / AFP/Getty

Experts say increase is due to a wider understanding of LBGT issues 

The number of teenagers being referred to support services dealing with transgender issues has increased fivefold within four years, new figures have shown.

The Tavistock and Portman Clinic in London, an NHS trust which helps young people under the age of 18 from across Britain, told Newsbeat that 441 teenagers came to them for assessment in 2013 and 2014. Four hundred of these referrals were for young people in England.

The clinic, which works with young people "who are experiencing difficulties in the development of their gender", has seen a yearly increase in the number of referrals of about 50 per cent since 2009, when it saw 91 people were referred to it.

Christina Richards, a senior specialist and psychotherapist at the Nottingham Gender Identity Clinic said the increase in referrals is probably because of growing acceptance and understanding of trans issues.

"Some of the silly ideas about what 'trans' means have disappeared now,” she said.

"We realise it is something that affects all people from all walks of life and that people go on and do rather well if they get the help they need."

The clinic receives referrals from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), as well as GPS and schools.

A spokesperson for the clinic told Newsbeat that some patients are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, where they experience distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity".

However, the spokesperson said the increase "is a complex issue and there are, no doubt, a number of factors".

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