At a meeting of the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee on 23rd April, Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities, told MPs that she would shortly be announcing changes banning children from undergoing sex-change surgery below the age of 18
(https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/transgender-law-will-change-to-protect-under-18s-truss-signals-8pjtv9crn). She said that children should be protected from making irreversible decisions about their bodies that they might regret in the future.
Predictably there is outrage from the LGBT lobby, who have launched a petition to try and stop the plan, but as basic child protection and safeguarding this decision is to be welcomed. To have real effect, however, the government needs to go further, starting with a policy change to ban the promotion and normalisation of gender fluidity to children as young as three. Thereafter, they need to prohibit the almost routine prescription of puberty blockers to children awaiting treatment.
The Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) Regulations, which have done much to promote the idea of gender fluidity, are set to become mandatory from September this year. Although not laid down in the Regulations themselves, they have been ruthlessly exploited by activist groups such as Stonewall and Mermaids to insist that same sex behaviours and transgenderism be taught to children as early as possible – so that they learn to be tolerant and inclusive, and be fully prepared for life in modern Britain. It is a weasel argument.
The enforced emphasis, well illustrated in kindergarten storybooks such as My Princess Boy and Morris Mickelwhite and the Tangerine Dress, has surely contributed to the 4,500% increase over the last decade in referrals for children seeking treatment to change their biological sex. Such teaching is demonstrably wrong. It is medically established that children begin to recognize physical differences from around the age of 2, but in the normal course of development they have no concept of gender identity till around 7. Teaching them, therefore, that they can choose their gender at age 3, 4 or 5 – which choice may not match their body – is not only deeply confusing, but forces an ideological message onto them that they have absolutely no chance of processing or evaluating for themselves. On any scale of reckoning this teaching is not age-appropriate, but is rather a social experiment driven by the desire to embed society’s ‘new’ values. It can only cause harm.
This, along with the prescription of blockers for children approaching puberty, is the issue the government needs urgently to address.
What’s wrong with puberty blockers? At the moment these drugs are being almost routinely prescribed to children presenting with gender dysphoria. The rationale is that preventing a child’s body from developing sexual characteristics in line with their biological sex will make future treatment easier, and that they are easily reversible (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/treatment/). But many children diagnosed early on as having gender dysphoria are actually autistic, or suffering from a related mental health problem requiring treatment, or go on to become homosexual – to put it in a nutshell, they have been wrongly diagnosed. At the same time, it’s well established that 95% of children, if left alone, will by adolescence be perfectly happy with their birth sex and won’t want to change. By contrast, however, if they are given puberty blockers, the majority will go on to transition – a decision which evidence shows many will bitterly regret. Detransitioner Charlie Evans, for example, has set up a group for others like herself who want to un-do their surgery, and has been inundated with messages from people who really are now ‘trapped in the wrong body’ asking for help (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7541679/Hundreds-youths-gender-surgery-wish-hadnt-says-head-advocacy-network.html).
The truth is, this treatment is devastating young lives and must be stopped. We have already seen clinicians resigning from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust’s transgender clinic, on the grounds they weren’t being allowed to assess children properly, and were being pressured into prescribing these drugs
(https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/12/childrens-transgender-clinic-hit-35-resignations-three-years/). Now Keira Bell, a young woman who transitioned as a teenager and who says the treatment ruined her life, is suing them (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51676020)! Yet the transgender lobby pushes on undeterred. They must not be allowed to win. We have a duty of care to protect children from the consequences of choices they lack capacity to make.
Adults who feel they are in the wrong body and want to change are of course free to undergo treatment to change sex. They can more properly assess the consequences, and it is their right to make such a decision. But children can have no idea what it is they are letting themselves in for – they cannot realize, for example, what having to take medication for the rest of their lives will entail – including making them susceptible to a range of diseases, such as osteoporosis and cancer. Nor can they comprehend the enormity of what it will mean to be left infertile and therefore unable to have children naturally. At the age of 8, 9 or 10, a child may think none of this matters – and in one sense at that age, it doesn’t! But in the future, it may well matter very much. Only by then it will be too late.
Please write to your MP today, commending the Government for its plans to ban sex-change surgery to children under 18, but pointing out that the measures need to go further, and that all invasive treatments should be prohibited under the age of 18.