NHS bosses are setting up a new service to cope with the growing number of young people in the region struggling with their gender identity.

They are spending £1m establishing the unit, which will cover Norfolk and Waveney.

Although it will be for all age groups, data shows that three-quarters of the people currently seeking support for gender identity issues are under the age of 25.

It comes at a time of growing concern among some parents and politicians over the content of sex education being taught in schools.

This month, PM Rishi Sunak announced he was fast-tracking a review of guidance to schools, after a Tory backbencher suggested children were being told there were 72 genders.

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Sources say the new service for Norfolk and Waveney will be "medication-free", rather than one focused on drug treatment.

The way gender identity issues are handled in the health service has become extremely controversial in recent years.

Last year, the NHS announced it was closing the UK's only dedicated gender identity clinic for children and young people.

The Tavistock clinic, in London, had been criticised in an independent review, which found it was "not safe" for children.

One of its former patients, Keira Bell, also brought a High Court case against the centre, challenging its use of puberty blockers.

She was prescribed puberty blockers aged 16, then received testosterone shots a year later, and aged 20 had a double mastectomy.

She later changed her mind over her decision to transition to male and argued the clinic should have challenged her more over her decision to transition.

Following the decision to close the Tavistock, the NHS said it would instead use regional centres to offer services.

Norfolk and Waveney's integrated care board has opened a tender looking for an organisation to run its new service.

It says it is looking for an organisation with "lived experience" of gender identity issues that can offer an advice service for anybody that is struggling.

The service would include offering support for gender dysphoria - when a person has a mismatch between their biological sex and the gender they identify with.

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It would be an expansion of a pilot scheme which launched a year ago, which is running alongside the charity Norfolk LGBT+ Project and has supported more than 1,500 people.

A service spokesperson said: "With young people in particular the case is often that they just do not have anybody they can talk to about what they are going through.

"We often find when people have the chance to talk, they decide they are happy just being who they want to be.

"This is not a treatment and it is not therapy - it is just about making sure people can get the right advice and sometimes, just being able to talk to somebody who understands what they are going through is enough."

As well as supporting people with gender dysphoria, it would also extend to people across the LGBT+ community.

It is also planned to also offer advice to families to help them better understand what their loved one is going through and how to support them.

A spokesperson for NHS Norfolk and Waveney said: “A pilot gender identity service, including gender dysphoria, has been running for a year in Norfolk and Waveney.

"The service has provided emotional and practical assistance to over 1,500 people and their families who need support with their feelings around their gender identity.

"We recognise the value of the service and want to ensure we continue to provide support to our population."