February 7, 2024 - 5:00pm

The UK is a progressive country, and the idea that same-sex attraction is a disease which needs to be treated is rightly repugnant to most of its citizens. With this in mind, one might imagine the suggestion that conversion therapy was happening within NHS facilities would cause uproar. And yet, despite Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch laying out evidence which suggests that this is exactly what has been happening, LGBTQ lobby groups and self-identified “progressive” politicians have remained curiously quiet.

When Badenoch first raised her concerns to members at the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) at the end of last year, she faced a hostile reaction and was asked to produce evidence for her assertions. Today, in a powerful letter to the Select Committee’s chair Caroline Nokes, Badenoch did just that.

The minister pointed to a 10,000% rise in referrals to UK Gender Identity Services (Gids) since 2009, noting that according to the NHS’s own data a majority of these young patients were lesbian, gay and bisexual. Analysis of 218 people referred to the Gids in one year found that 67.7% of female patients were “recorded as being attracted to other females only”, while 21.1% were bisexual and only 8.5% heterosexual.

In addition to UK figures, the letter quoted a Dutch study from 1999 which stated: “Not all children with Gender Identity Disorder (Gid) turn out to be transsexuals after puberty […] prospective studies of Gid boys show that this phenomenon is more strongly related to later homosexuality than to later transsexualism.”

On paper, these are the very kids for whom LGBT lobby group Stonewall ought to be fighting. But at present the charity suggests that children who express confusion around their gender should be affirmed in their cross-sex identities. It has steadfastly ignored the now overwhelming evidence that gender dysphoria in childhood is linked to same-sex attraction in adolescence and adulthood.

It is an established fact that the overwhelming majority of children prescribed puberty blockers will continue on the transition pathway. Puberty blockers themselves are prescribed “off label”; their use for treatment of gender dysphoria is experimental. Meanwhile, taking cross-sex hormones can lead to a range of medical problems, including sterility. These powerful drugs leave gay and lesbian patients as pseudo-straight adults, with some of the superficial characteristics of the opposite sex. Dr Matt Bristow, who once worked at GIDS, explained to journalist Hannah Barnes that he had come to see the affirmative approach as “conversion therapy for gay kids”. 

Yet, worryingly, it seems some politicians are more concerned about keeping in step with Stonewall and other trans lobby groups than reviewing the evidence presented by the Equalities Minister. Yesterday, as Badenoch or her SpAds were preparing to hit send on the explosive letter, the intended recipients were hosting what was described by WESC member Kate Osborne MP as “the first all-trans panel in parliament”.

Nokes took the opportunity to entreat politicians to stop “using hugely problematic anti-trans language”. It is curious that these politicians — one Labour, one Conservative — consider the apparent right of children to identify as trans as a greater priority than what might be reasonably considered the mass medicalisation of youngsters with gender dysphoria.

Whether the love-in between trans lobby groups and progressive politicians can withstand the weight of mounting evidence is uncertain. Badenoch has presented a grisly and unedifying truth, that we are potentially sterilising the next generation of gay youth. But for the likes of Stonewall, Nokes and Osborne, it’s easier to shoot the messenger than face the facts.

Josephine Bartosch is a freelance writer and assistant editor at The Critic.