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Artillery Row

Leaving Kindland, entering reality

“Being kind” at the expense of truth and reason can make us nothing of the kind

So the NHS have reversed prescribing puberty blockers for gender confused kids.

“Who’d have thunk it eh?”

Well, certainly not trans activists, trans allies and other interested parties for whom this news can most charitably be referred to as “unwelcome”.

There’s been some pushback, stating that trans children are completely valid in their identity and that the kindest thing to do is to prevent these children from experiencing the “wrong puberty”. 

It is argued that they will kill themselves if not offered a medical treatment and that puberty blockers are safe and reversible — despite the data not supporting this. The loudest voice here is India Willoughby — who is not in fact, despite high levels of confidence, a medically qualified doctor. 

The reality of the children presenting at gender identity clinics with gender confusion is that this incongruity forms only one facet of a much more complex and interconnected picture. This was detailed by Hannah Barnes and Deborah Cohen in their Newsnight investigative reporting and in Barnes’ subsequent book, Time to Think, on the Tavistock gender identity clinic.

For example, it can arise alongside being autistic, or from being survivors of abuse. If a watchful waiting approach is adopted, the children often desist from feelings of gender confusion.

In the medical model approach of prescribing puberty blockers, on the other hand, the findings at the now closed Tavistock clinic were that 98 per cent of children transitioned from puberty blockers to cross sex hormones and then to surgical bodily modifications. 

Once surgically transitioned, the young people are no longer supported.

My question arises from the conviction — one in which I previously believed of the existence of a trans child. It may be the case that a tiny percentage of children worldwide experience intense and unyielding gender dysphoria from childhood. But is it true of all, or even most, of the children presenting with gender confusion?

Trans activists, campaign groups and lobbyists say yes. Other feminist and gay rights organisations say no. So too do the high numbers of clinicians leaving the Tavistock clinic, who felt uncomfortable with the exponential rise in numbers of children presenting at their clinics and the assumption of the virtues of the medical model.

I didn’t allow myself to scrutinise anything as tedious as the details back in 2019. Our oldest had come out as non binary the year before and I was running to catch up with this brave new world of identity. 

When you’re assured in your online bubble of the interconnection of trans rights with gay rights, of hate leading to widespread deaths amongst an already marginalised community, and that trans women are in fact women, you don’t want to be a dick about it. 

What did I know anyway? I was a cis (non trans), het (heterosexual), white (you know this one), middle class (I can only apologise again!) woman (the kind with a uterus). I was among the most privileged. I needed to re-educate myself unless I wanted to be responsible for a literal genocide. 

I felt so good. I was on the kind side. “God I’m amazing!” I thought, “And what a fantastic mum too!”

Then I made an unforced error which in “Kindland” isn’t acceptable. I said I liked the wrong person and in the capital city of Kindland this person is invariably a woman not, I hasten to add, the good sort who can get their lady penis out on stage and play the keyboard with it. No, it was one of those wrong ones, like me the journalist Suzanne Moore. 

I’d called her funny and that I loved her writing.

Well that’s when, what I call the DM slide, began. My twitter direct messages began lighting up from those informing me of my wrongness for liking her. She was monstrous, I was told, before being offered the oh-so generous opportunity to delete and apologise. 

However, I found myself unable to acquiesce to that request — because, not to put too fine a point on it, it was bollocks. Not only is Moore an excellent journalist but the piece had nothing to do with trans people. They were indulging in the Mccarthyite blacklisting of a female writer  just because she wasn’t acquiescing to their requests. 

It all went tits up for me after that. This wasn’t kindness — it was bullshit. When the Labour Party then started buying into the activistic notion of hate groups that weren’t I was done being an ally. It all seemed rather more than a little cultish. 

The more I read up on these so-called hate groups — the LGB Alliance, A Woman’s Place U.K., Labour Women’s Declaration and the campaigner Maya Forstater among others — the more embarrassed I felt. I’d abdicated my frontal lobe to what I’d perceived as kindness and bought into it wholesale.

I took off my glittering self-awarded crown of kindness and replaced it with the metaphorical hard hat everyone needs now. You wear it to withstand the incoming verbal abuse and threats of death and ostracism, unemployment and rape if you’re a dissenting woman. These routinely target the “Hang on a minute though, I have some questions” hater I was now deemed to be.  

Our oldest is kinder to me than I am to myself, though, in pointing out that I haven’t changed that much in my view. I never agreed with surgically transitioning kids or that you can somehow change biological sex. That’s what I love about autistic lesbians, the clear thinking and if they’ll pardon the phrase, straight talking.

When I argued with Graham Linehan online and he raged at me about surgically transitioned kids and lesbians being told they needed to sleep with genitally male trans women, I genuinely thought he’d lost his mind. 

None of that could be true, I reasoned. Gay men and lesbians had fought for their settled rights and they’d won them. So what was he on about, I thought, self soothingly.

But the question for me remains. Is there any such thing as a trans child? 

I feel huge empathy for terrified parents assured by some that it’s better to have a living surgically altered trans son than a dead daughter. But social transition isn’t nearly enough for the devotees of all trans all the time activists. Medical transition or death is being preached, and adhere to it at your parental peril they warn. 

Good parenting is at its heart about making informed choices for your children because they are unable to make them for themselves. They’re relying on your critical faculties firing on all cylinders on this decision. But choice by mantras and slogans is no choice at all.

We’d been through the mental health mill here which predated the onset of gender confusion, as is so often the case for our autistic children.  When you’ve looked suicidal ideation, distinct from any gender confusion, in the face as we did, it’s absolutely terrifying. You’ll do anything to prevent it. So it’s truly obscene to me to see this visceral parental terror weaponised on ideological grounds.  Our oldest wasn’t a child but an adult and it was hard enough to live through. 

Let kids be kids, accepted and loved and safe, as the beautiful unique humans they are moving into the rest of their lives. As gay men and lesbians, autistic and different and crucially as gender non conforming as they want to be. 

Who needs mass conformity with stereotypes anyway? It’s bullshit.

Don’t impose adult solutions onto childhood problems. That’s the real life-saving affirmation kids need.

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