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Gender clinic director dismisses critics as ‘anti-progress’

Helen Webberley appears to have no doubt about her clinic. Credit: BBC

June 30, 2024 - 8:00am

According to Dr Helen Webberley, “not everyone likes change”. This is true. Take puberty, for instance. For some young people, female ones in particular, this change can be incredibly hard to navigate.

It’s a time when many seek flight from a body which, as Simone de Beauvoir put it, “is no longer a clear expression of her individuality”. The role of adults is not just to guide those who find this change distressing, but to create a world in which a changing sexed body is no longer over-invested with oppressive meanings. You cannot freeze yourself in time; the only way to get over puberty is to go through it.

Except this is not the kind of thing Webberley means when she talks about change. In an eye-opening interview with the Times, she  is referring to former employees of GenderGP — the online gender clinic she directs — who object to having been replaced by AI chatbots. These members of staff include healthcare advisers, dropped in favour of a “future-proofed” service in which subscribers — young people experiencing gender dysphoria and/or their parents — pay £7.99 for a 15-minute live chat. This is in addition to monthly subscription fees, payments for joining and information gathering, plus separate charges for puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones.

Read in context, Webberley’s “not everyone likes change” is not a wry comment on the human condition. It’s the words of the neoliberal boss justifying the shaving away of “inefficiencies” in favour of a “streamlined” service that brings in more money. It’s not about helping people to adapt to change, grow and thrive. It’s about repackaging rampant individualism as indicative of a more forward-thinking sensibility.

It’s one of many highly revealing moments in which Webberley lays bare the overlap between a worldview in which the only thing that matters is personal wealth, and one in which a child’s fear of puberty can, apparently, be cured with pills and patches. In both cases, actual human bodies — actual people, with their complex emotions, their identities formed and reformed in relation to others — are an inconvenience. Deny them. Get rid of them. If you can outsource the treatment of a gender-distressed child to a robot, removing what Webberley calls the “human interpretation of protocol”, you should do it. If people object, simply tell them that they hate progress.

This has been a highly effective strategy for transgender healthcare providers, not least because the hyper-capitalist messaging is masked by a fluffier interpretation of “progress”. If you can make people believe that anything associated with the body and its limitations is conservative and bad, then you are free to exploit the vulnerable. “Everybody’s vulnerable if they need something — so we’re not targeting a vulnerable population,” claims Webberley. Only you are if you do not see them as full human beings, but things to be rebuilt to make feelings go away — as if they were robots, too.

Webberley likes to suggest that those who object to what she is doing — prescribing poorly-evidenced treatments to tens of thousands of children across the globe — are anti-progress. “They don’t like trans people,” she says. I think people like her have existed in every age: quacks who capitalise on medical or technological progress before any of us have had time to catch up with and address the consequences.

In this case, the impact of online pornography — on adult males who want the world to endorse their fetishes, and on teenage girls who see womanhood defined by the porn script — has been tremendous. Suddenly, girls have new reasons not to want to grow up and lose themselves to someone else’s story. Real progress happens when we finally learn to value the bodies of humans before images on screens and/or in men’s heads.

It is amazing to me that, after Hannah Barnes’ Time To Think, after the Cass review, as more and more whistleblowers come forward, Helen Webberley seems so devoid of self-doubt. Yet part of me also reads her bizarre interview as a confession. She must known, mustn’t she, how bad it all sounds?

Or maybe she finds guilt, like employees, like the complex emotional lives of adolescents, just too messy. Perhaps she’s found a pill that can block out that necessary part of human existence, too.


Victoria Smith is a writer and creator of the Glosswitch newsletter.

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Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
12 days ago

How can she (?) have self doubts if her living depends on it?
On the other hand, Kathleen Stock said that she is “as thick as two short planks”. That might explain a lot too…

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
12 days ago

“as think as two short planks”–very witty indeed!

John Murray
John Murray
12 days ago

I believe the famous Upton Sinclair quote is: “‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
12 days ago

Each of those £7.99s adds £7.99 to GDP. This and this reason alone means the government will not significantly reign in this abuse. See also past changes to expand gambling and future changes to expand narcotics use.

None this is about the freedom and personal fulfilment. That is a dupe. Naive left wing virtue signallers have been co-opted into a thoroughly capitalistic use of humanity that goes beyond commercialising your labour, but also your body, your emotions, your very being.

We have lost the important political counterweight that the left provided during the 19th and 20th century to mitigate the excesses of the wealthy and bring about improvements in safety and quality of life.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
12 days ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Naive left wing virtue signallers have been co-opted into a thoroughly capitalistic use of humanity that goes beyond commercialising your labour, but also your body, your emotions, your very being.

You are absolutely on the money about this. I am flabbergasted by how many of the views held by my left-wing acquaintances are aligned with the capitalist commercialization of body, spirit, and identity. Corporations have very cleverly capitalized on the naive idealism of extremely shallow thinkers.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
12 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Lenin said something to the effect of “capitalists will sell us the ropes we’ll use to hang them.”
That might be a bit more accurate. A very expensive chat line for sexually troubled people generates money for rent seekers, just as nationalized health care generates money for “clinics” and “surgeries.”
That’s definitely not a free market, but merely opportunism, on the backs of tax paying citizens.
Transgenderism itself was very rare, and mostly confined to very effeminate males.
After Obamacare in the US started paying for very expensive hormones and surgeries, it suddenly broke out everywhere.
Medical science and public health have also become extremely unprofessional, and politically corrupted. Normally, responsible physicians would never think of removing healthy body parts, nor prescribing powerful cross-sex hormones, to patients who are very young, mentally disturbed, or both.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
11 days ago

Let’s not forget the drug companies for whom transgender people represent lifelong captive customers.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
12 days ago

Matt Walsh (of the Daily Wire) got his local Gender clinic shut down by merely highlighting the commercial pitch at the place for ‘gender affirming care’ by one of it’s female medics. It was all about big Bucks and nothing about care at all – surprise, surprise (not).

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
12 days ago

No-one likes people who deny objective reality, Helen, you included.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
12 days ago

Such people want to lead the world in transhumanism so such claims make perfect sense to them.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
12 days ago

I have no words for Webberley or the creatures like her. How they haven’t ended up in court so far is baffling. How people can justify their mutilating children and vulnerable adults is beyond me. Webberley was struck off as her husband has been, but following an appeal to the High Court was permitted to practice again (perhaps demonstrating that the Courts have capitulated to the gender claptrap). I can’t wait for the day when the prosecutions happen if they ever do. Now I’m sitting back and waiting for Talia’s comments.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
12 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Is Jenny Talia a bloke? Nasty and aggressive whichever way.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
12 days ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Thlamydia Merkin? I’d wondered if she was just a shill hired by Unherd to spice up the Comments section. Champagne Socialist appears less and less now and he’s pretty much phoning them in now.

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
12 days ago

I don’t know if the article link above gets past The Times paywall.
For those who haven’t read it, here’s a share token link
https://www.thetimes.com/article/24746282-4ffb-42dd-b032-071f5cd9bb96?shareToken=9ef8185ef6774dbed0d56f1030902306
It is horrifying and terrifying.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
12 days ago
Reply to  S Wilkinson

And they’ve disabled the comments underneath. No one wants to hear what the average Times reader thinks of this woman.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
12 days ago
Reply to  S Wilkinson

Thanks for sharing.
You’re right – that is truly horrific, and that woman is a Mengele like monster.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
11 days ago
Reply to  S Wilkinson

She looks like a psychopath! There is something very unhinged in her expression. My sister is a nurse who has dealt with seriously disturbed patients, and when I showed her the photo, she shuddered.

Veronica Lowe
Veronica Lowe
12 days ago

It is hard to trust any medic who has never learned that however much mutilating surgery or medication anyone is subjected to, all that happens is neutering, and damage. No man has become a woman, no woman has become a man. Cocks’ eggs and bulls’ cheese anyone?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
12 days ago

“not everyone likes change” , “wrong side of history” etc always reminds me of the “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” scene from Cabaret.
The first refuge of scoundrels who don’t wish to answer the hard questions.

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
12 days ago

What a greedy, amoral person. Everything now is an advertisement, no matter how it is couched in eloquent, caring, and feeling phrases, slogans, or advertising. I am an optimist and I really hope someday, folks will start pulling the plug on their smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TV’s due to this 24/7/365 assault by the greediest people in the history of man/woman kind.

David Morley
David Morley
12 days ago

create a world in which a changing sexed body is no longer over-invested with oppressive meanings

Can anybody explain to me what this actually means?

David Morley
David Morley
12 days ago

In this case, the impact of online pornography — on adult males who want the world to endorse their fetishes, and on teenage girls who see womanhood defined by the porn script — has been tremendous

Thought I was going to get to the end of the article without it all being somehow mens fault. Clearly the author doesn’t like trans, doesn’t like men and doesn’t like porn – so they must all be connected in some sinister way.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
11 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

Well, clearly they are all connected.

David Morley
David Morley
12 days ago

Yes, there certainly are a lot of strange women with strange ideas around they days.

Aidan Anabetting
Aidan Anabetting
11 days ago

A very well written article. Change is neither inherently good or bad. That things change is inevitable; “all that is solid melts into air” but the outcome for humans can be be favourable or unfavourable. Progress is in the eye of the beholder. To claim that all change is good is a strange metaphysical belief.

jay Draper
jay Draper
11 days ago

Evil or stupid? I can’t make up my mind about these people who believe mutilating children is an ethical and honest policy.
“In this case, the impact of online pornography — on adult males who want the world to endorse their fetishes, and on teenage girls who see womanhood defined by the porn script — has been tremendous.”
Succinct and totally on point.
Great article

william langdale
william langdale
11 days ago

“seems so devoid of self-doubt”………. A list of other people devoid of self doubt,Hitler,Stalin,Mao.Pol Pot,David Koresh,Jim Jones,etc,etc,etc,on and on it goes.Certainty is a terribly good indicator of bad things heading this way.As is not being able to laugh at yourself,can she?