The gender identity service failed hundreds of vulnerable children
The announcement that the gender identity service at Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust (GIDS) has been ordered to close by next spring is a massive relief. Following a review that found that it failed vulnerable under-18s (as evidenced in the Cass Report, an update to which was published today), its imminent closure is yet another example of how children have been sacrificed at the altar of transgender ideology.
Growing up in the 1970s on a council estate, I, like most females, struggled with my feelings about girlhood. Conformity was everything, and I hated dresses, tights and wearing my unruly hair in bunches. On occasion I would lock myself in the bathroom and try my brother’s Brutus Jeans and t-shirt on, imagining what it would be like to be able to dress as I wanted. I had no interest in boys and a crush on my best friend. Had I been born 40 years later with liberal, middle-class parents, I would have been offered a trip to the gender clinic and I would have run all the way there. I was desperate to be a boy — not because I was trapped in the wrong body, but because I was trapped in a patriarchal society that punishes girls for not adhering to sex stereotypes, otherwise known as “gender”.
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In recent years, more and more children have been directed towards a life of potentially harmful medical intervention as an answer to feelings of unhappiness and distress. Last year, more than 5,000 under-18s were referred to the Portman, compared to 250 a decade earlier. Whereas it used to be far more common for males to present as gender dysphoric, in recent years the number of girls and young women have skyrocketed. What is it, I wonder, about being female in a world full of misogyny, violent pornography, and sexual assault have to do with wishing to opt out of girlhood?
GIDS will be replaced by regional centres at existing children’s hospitals offering with strong links to mental health services. That makes sense, because, spin it as you will, feeling so distressed by your own body that you feel driven to live as the opposite sex is not a sign of sanity.
A recent poll highlighted widespread public scepticism about prescribing puberty blockers for children, which is absolutely right and proper. And yet is was framed as an “erosion in support for trans rights” rather than a correct scientific response. Charities that purport to represent the interests of gender dysphoric children, such as Stonewall and Mermaids, put their energy into framing talking therapies and support for kids to live happily in their own bodies as “conversion therapy”.
When I first wrote about the issue of transsexuality, published in 2003, I contacted GIDS and spoke to one of its senior clinicians. I asked whether children presenting as “gender dysphoric” might be victims of homophobic bullying, or child sexual abuse? It seemed to me that feeling alienated from a body that had been sexually violated was a common response to trauma. I was told “No”, and that some young people are transgender, and no amount of therapy to get them to accept their bodies will be effective.
GIDS has failed our most vulnerable children, and I, along with many, will be glad to see it go.