by Debbie Hayton
Monday, 21
June 2021
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08:46

Therapy for gender dysphoria must be protected

Some young people simply need to be reconciled to their biological sex
by Debbie Hayton
Keira Bell is a high-profile example of someone who regretted medical treatment

Liz Truss’s commitment to ban gay conversion therapy earlier this year is a welcome decision. But while nobody is defending the horrific practices of the past — electric shock treatments, for example — some psychotherapists worry that normal therapy may be banned at the same time. A petition expressing such concerns started by James Esses has already raised over 10,000 signatures.

Esses worries particularly about children presenting with gender dysphoria. As he writes: “We have seen a worrying number of young people de-transitioning and regretting medical treatment.” Keira Bell, who brought a high-profile case against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, is just one example.

Without access to explorative therapy, many more children could be denied the treatment that would help them be reconciled to their biological sex. Of particular concern were gay children who clinicians feared were being pushed to change gender until “there would be no gay people left”.

Just this weekend, Dr Matt Bristow — a gay psychologist, formerly at the Tavistock — said that he feared the trust was ignoring the possibility that children who said they wanted to change sex might simply be gay. He feared that some might have been bullied.

These concerns are not new. Two years ago, The Times reported the fears of then unnamed clinicians at the Tavistock. They believed that physically healthy children were being medicated in response to pressure from transgender lobby groups and parental anxieties.

Those children need psychological support, not cocktails of drugs and surgical interventions. But they are far less likely to find clinicians to help them if those clinicians fear the law might view their actions as trans conversion therapy. With powerful transgender lobby groups in the wings, it could take just one complaint from an unhappy patient to end a career.

Esses noticed the danger and now that his petition has hit five figures the Government will need to respond to him. Before they do, they should consider Bristow’s evidence. Unless explorative therapy is protected, we risk gay conversion of the worst kind perpetuating in plain sight: gender non-conforming children, who would otherwise grow up to be gay, being railroaded into gender transition to try and make them normal.

If it is wrong to “pray away the gay”, as some religious groups have been accused of, then why is it any better to “trans away the gay”? If Truss is so concerned about gay conversion therapy, this is a scandal she needs to investigate.

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Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago

Mutilating children’s bodies in the name of gender ideology is wicked. Tavistock should be closed down, and all its resources redirected towards helping poor confused young people to recognise that the body they were born with is by definition the ‘right’ one.

Simon Coulthard
Simon Coulthard
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Agreed but also – there are a very small number of children born with gender dysphotoria and for him transitioning is hugely beneficial. We have a long way to go before we can distinguish these cases from people that are simply gay or suffering teenage angst. In the meantime, I plead restraint and caution on this issue

Nick Dougan
Nick Dougan
1 year ago

I agree with restraint. Restraining from neutering children who have never been allowed to experience what their adult body would actually feel like would seem to me to be a first, essential restraint.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
1 year ago

Is there any other area of mental illness where the “treatment” consists of affirming and validating the patient’s delusion or psychosis?
For example, if I presented saying I thought I was Napoleon, would the clinic organise a palace for me, address me as Sire and provide me with armies to command?

Richard Sutton
Richard Sutton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I think Macron has already played this particular card.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

How about another theory? Children say they want to change sex because it is cool and fashionable and makes them feel important in their peer group.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

All quite true, I suspect. We all want to be special, particular at not wanting to conform.

Richard Riheed
Richard Riheed
1 year ago

Good article, Debbie, as always. Thank you for your wise words on this subject

Richard Sutton
Richard Sutton
1 year ago

I’ll defend electro shock therapy.
Two of my closest friends worked in a local institute thirty years ago.
It was used very successfully to treat a number of mental illnesses.
They hated the process but were astonished at the outcome on numerous occasions.