Childline is receiving a record eight calls a day from children who are unhappy with their gender, new figures show.
Data released by the NSPCC, which runs the helpline, shows it held 2,796 counselling sessions in 2015/16 with children as young as 11 who felt their biological sex was wrong.
It is more than double the amount of calls Childline received when it first began recording figures on transgender and gender dysphoria issues in 2012/13.
Childline says homophobic bullying and transphobic abuse was mentioned in 450 of the sessions and often prompted children to report suicidal thoughts, self-harming and mental health issues.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said transphobic abuse “can trigger serious mental health issues and crippling shame”.
He said: “It’s vital young people are confident that if they speak out, they will be able to try and navigate these confusing and complex feelings without also having to fight prejudice and abuse.
“Adults must support a child as they explore what they’re feeling and guide them to get the right help when necessary.”
In 2015/16, counsellors held more than 260 sessions with 11-year-olds. The most common age range for calls was from those aged between 12 and 15.
In discussions with Childline counsellors children described feeling “trapped in the wrong body”.
A 13-year-old girl who identified as a boy said: “I’m being bullied on my social network account about being transgender and it’s awful.
“They constantly send me hateful messages and tell me to kill myself. I think it’s someone at school as they seem to know things about me.”
Meanwhile, a 16-year-old boy who identified as a girl described feeling “hopeless and frustrated” by mental health services, adding: “I can’t cope with another year like this one.”