LGBT Charities Response to Bell/a vs. Tavistock is disgraceful

Keira Bell is a detransitioned lesbian who was harmed by unprofessional treatment at the Tavistock, the UK’s only gender identity clinic for children. She was a claimant in a legal case against the Tavistock clinic (the other claimant being an anonymous mother, Mrs. A, who has concerns about her autistic daughter receiving treatment at the Tavistock). The question that the judges were asked to decide is whether children can consent to the use of puberty blockers.

Puberty blockers are a drug given to some children who have gender dysphoria. They stop the body from developing in puberty as it normally would (for females menstruation and breast growth, for males hair growth, voice deepening etc.) Ms Bell was prescribed these blockers when she was 16.

Many people have been raising concerns about puberty blockers for quite a while now. There is a lot of scientific evidence that the experience of gender dysphoria in childhood is not always permanent and that the majority of transgender-identified children desist (that is, no longer identify as transgender). It is also well known that many of these gender nonconforming children are more likely to grow up to be gay or lesbian. On the other hand, most children who take puberty blockers do not desist and instead go on to cross sex hormones and later (possibly) surgery. This evidence suggests that puberty blockers, rather than being a ‘pause’ and ‘time to think’ as advocates often claim, cement transgender identification.

There are also significant medical risks with the use of these drugs.  

So little is known about their long‐term effects in gender dysphoric adolescents that their use remains unlicenced (ibid., p. 41). Numerous studies suggest however that bone mass density is seriously compromised by them, leading to the risk of osteoporosis (Vlot et al. 2017, PBS Newshour, 4 February 2017). A study of 30 children prescribed them for precocious puberty showed a 7% drop in IQ (Mul 2001). The authors declared this clinically insignificant, presumably because of the small sample size. 

One puberty blocker, Lupron, has caused significant, long term harm to women who were prescribed it for endometriosis.

There are also significant problems with the Tavistock itself. There is evidence that many parents wanted their children to be transgender instead of gay or lesbian and saw the GIDS service as a means to achieve this goal. A BBC Newsnight report on the Tavistock found that:

“There have been many times when the push to transition has come from families who are uncomfortable with the sexual orientation of their child……some parents express real relief at their child is not gay or lesbian, suggesting being trans is a better outcome for their child.”

A clinician who had resigned from the service said the following: “A lot of the girls would come in and say, ‘I’m not a lesbian. I fell in love with my best girl friend but then I went online and realized I’m not a lesbian, I’m a boy. Phew.’” There was a joke at the clinic that “there would be no gay people left.”

This obviously raises massive concerns about childhood transition being caused by internalised and explicit homophobia, making it essentially the new conversion therapy. There are also other concerns such as a lack of investigation or study into the high level of autism among those referred as well as the huge spike in referrals over the past 10 years. There has also been no investigation into the fact that girls being referred outnumber boys despite the fact that historically, most transsexuals are biological males.

To summarise, then, an outfit riddled with homophobic beliefs has been running a medical experiment on children. The court wisely decided that this medical experiment had to stop and as such, its ruling makes clear that it is very unlikely that children under 16 can consent to these drugs.

So how did the charities that are meant to represent lesbians, such as Stonewall and LGBT Foundation react to this ruling? Did they support a young lesbian who overcame homophobia and being subjected to the medical experiment of puberty blockers?

No, of course not.

BBC Newsnight with Emily Maitlis interviewed both Keira Bell and Susie Green, who is the leader of the ‘trans child’ charity Mermaids. LGBT Foundation, in response to this program, tweeted out their support, not for Bell but for Green: “Today sending our love and solidarity to @Mermaids_Gender and @green_susie100 [Transgender flag] Thank you Susie for speaking so passionately on behalf of young trans people about how worrying the High Court ruling is”. This was added to the retweet of the video of Susie Green talking on Newsnight.

For those not familiar with Green, there is a TEDx talk where she discusses her backstory. She talks about how her eldest (biological male) child declared “I should have been a girl” age 4. According to her own account, the child liked stereotypically feminine toys, but her (likely homophobic) husband did not like this and the toys were taken away from the child. (I will leave you to judge to what degree this triggered the child’s transgender identification). Green put her child on puberty blockers (by going to America, at this time they were not prescribed in the UK) and when her child was 16 they went to Thailand so Green’s child could have genital surgery (an operation which is illegal for under 18s in the UK and now also illegal in Thailand).

Green is a problematic individual for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is her weaponisation of suicide as a means to try and manipulate the public. Green endlessly repeats the statistic that 48% of ‘trans young people’ attempt suicide. [What she does not mention is that this study involved a total of 27 transgender people, hardly a sample that should be used to conduct national policy]. In the Newsnight clip, within the first 40 seconds Green refers to the fact that she believes that suicide will increase due to this ruling.

I find this extremely problematic and possibly dangerous. These young children, who are vulnerable, have been sold the idea of puberty blockers as a solution to their problems, and no doubt many have seen the videos online from children taking them and talking about the benefits. This ruling has taken away the possibility for these children to be put on blockers, so I have no doubt that some of these children now feel hurt and desperate.

Green’s invocation of suicide in this context has the possibility to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is well known that irresponsible media reporting on the issue of suicide can cause already desperate people to be more likely to kill themselves, and that higher rates of death follow suicides of famous people. (This is why suicide charities such as Samaritans have guidelines on suicide reporting for the media, in order to lower the risk.) Suicide contagion is not exactly an obscure phenomenon. It has been observed since the time of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, so it’s not unreasonable to expect the head of a national charity to be aware of it.

By talking about the the ‘inevitable rise in self harm and suicidality’ she acts as if these young children are now doomed to death. Rather than bringing up suicide, a responsible person would reassure their clients and make clear that they will give additional support to anyone who is struggling. I do not believe LGBT charities should be sharing this woman’s irresponsible rhetoric.

LGBT Foundation’s own response to the ruling is filled with more claims about puberty blockers being ‘life-saving’, again promoting the suicide narrative. And, of course, they are complaining that it is bigoted because it means that ‘trans children’ have less autonomy than ‘cis children’ over their bodies which is obvious nonsense (if a 14-year-old ‘cis’ child wanted to be sterilised, for example, the courts would rule that to be illegal – the issue at hand is the weight of the decision, not whether it has anything to do with transgender issues). Nothing they have said whatsoever expresses any concern for Keira Bell and that she was harmed by irresponsible doctors, and will have lifelong consequences from impulsive decisions that adults should not have allowed her to make.

Stonewall’s response also lacks any concern for Ms Bell in their response to the ruling. As far as I can tell they don’t even mention her name. They repeat the claims about puberty blockers ‘buying time’ which has already been shown to be false. They claim puberty blockers alleviate distress. What’s interesting here is that Stonewall tried to intervene in the case, but the judge deemed that they did not have any relevant evidence. If there was fantastic evidence for this intervention, they should have tried presenting it to the court.

Neither of the organisations mention that Keira Bell is a lesbian, despite the fact that both of them claim to represent and support lesbians. They don’t even mention she is a detransitioner.

Why? The real truth is that Keira Bell destroys their narrative, and thus they don’t want to draw too much attention to her.

Transgender ideology says that there are two types of people, ‘trans’ and ‘cis’. ‘Trans’ people do not identify with their gender ‘assigned at birth’ whereas ‘cis’ people do identify with their gender ‘assigned at birth’. The narrative promoted around ‘trans children’ is that ‘they just know’. If a child says they are trans it’s because they know they are trans. Questioning their identity is thus harmful and amounts to conversion therapy.

If children ‘just know’ then it follows that interventions such as puberty blockers and cross sex hormones are perfectly fine for children. After all, their ‘trans identity’ is permanent, in the same way that sexual orientation is largely fixed. In fact, denying them this treatment is harmful.

Except for the fact that detransitioners prove that children don’t ‘just know’. When she identified as trans, would any trans activist draw a distinction between Bell and any other person who was transitioning (let’s take an individual who is happy with their decision, say, Blaire White)? No, they would not. They would say both are trans because they both say they are trans. Could they even draw such a distinction? No, they could not. There is no basis for any such distinction to be drawn according to their beliefs. Both ‘just know’ they are trans.

Except Keira Bell decided she didn’t ‘just know’ and was actually a woman and lesbian all along. And thus, the whole logic of transgender identification being permanent and children knowing that they have a ‘boy’s brain in a female body’ or vice versa falls to pieces.

Given that many gay and lesbian young people believe that they are ‘born in the wrong body’ due to homophobia and being gender non conforming, the protection of these children from harmful drugs should be celebrated by organisations that claim to represent them. Keira Bell should be considered as a hero who stood up to protect vulnerable children from medicalisation, despite the fact that that involved admitting her mistakes in public, in front of everyone (no easy decision). Instead these organisations that claim to represent us as lesbians barely mention her name as the woman who personified the case let alone praise her – or even show any basic sympathy that she was harmed by the Tavistock.

Gender identity ideologues are welcome to Stonewall and the LGBT foundation, because they sure as hell do not represent me.

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