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Artillery Row

The Scottish Tavistock

Politicians must address how young people are being treated at Sandyford gender clinic

We are sorry you didn’t enjoy your experience with us, please provide us with more feedback so we can do better in future. You may expect this kind of response from a hotel, or an airline, after you complain about shoddy service. But how would you feel if it was offered by a hospital, following a botched medical procedure that has ruined your life?

This is, in effect, what is happening at Scotland’s only dedicated “gender identity clinic”, Sandyford in Glasgow, which has been writing to aggrieved former patients in an attempt to learn from their “poor experience”. The service explains, blithely, that they are encouraging “feedback from patients with experience so that we can continue to develop our services”.

Sandyford has come under increased scrutiny of late after its sister service in London, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, announced it would be closing its doors. An independent review, led by Dr Hilary Cass, found evidence of improper data-keeping, medical negligence, and an “unquestioning affirmative approach” towards “gender transition”.

Many people fear that what has happened at Tavistock is happening at the Scottish clinic too. Sandyford saw a 1,411% increase in under-18s receiving “treatment” behind its doors in a period of just six years. In April, it was reported that 263 children were being dealt with by its staff, who can dispense harmful, and experimental drugs. Close to 1,000 were waiting to be seen.

A former patient at Sandyford, Sinead Watson, was contacted by the clinic in the last few weeks. She had a full mastectomy and took testosterone for years on its advice. Watson believes it’s inexcusable that Sandyford is “offering cross-sex hormones to women with a history of depression and anxiety and eating disorders”, who experience profound harm as a result.

When she turned to Sandyford at the age of 24, she was struggling with a range of mental health problems. Other issues were ignored and within months she was taking irreversible cross-sex hormones. Years later her voice remains deep, and she has to shave. Her underlying issues were not resolved by the “treatments” recommended by the NHS service.

Tragically, Watson isn’t alone

Tragically, Watson isn’t alone. Hundreds of young men and women have emerged in recent years complaining that they are also victims of disturbing medical negligence. So-called “detransitioners” are coming forward in droves with stories of profound harm and brokenness – of being sold a lie and failed catastrophically by doctors and other professionals.

survey of 237 detransitioners by the group Post Trans suggests Watson’s experience is a common one. Among those surveyed (mostly young women) 54 per cent reported having other conditions prior to “sex change”, including depressive disorders (69 per cent), anxiety disorders (63 per cent), post-traumatic stress disorder (33 per cent), attention deficit disorder (24 per cent) or autism (20 per cent) prior to transition.

Evidence suggests that young women in particular are presenting to doctors with various, complex issues, quickly being declared “trans”, and encouraged down a path towards medical transition, including life-changing drugs and surgery. This process causes them acute harm physically and mentally, and utterly fails to address the inner anguish they first presented with.

All of this has been known anecdotally for years, but with institutions in thrall to the trans lobby, and critics of gender ideology ruthlessly pursued as heretics and haters, it has taken until now for services operating in line with this ideology to come under real scrutiny. The experience of broken and hurting “detransitioners” has not received the attention it deserves.

In light of the controversy surrounding Tavistock, and acutely aware that it is sanctioning similar interventions on its own patch at Sandyford, the Scottish government has commissioned the NHS to draw up “standards” for gender identity services for children and adults in Scotland for the first time. Yes, you read that correctly: the first time. Apparently, they weren’t needed until now.

The government’s admission that Scotland’s gender clinic needs some new thought rather misses the point. Instead of asking how Sandyford can operate “better”, Ministers ought to be asking if it should be operating at all. Evidence of acute, irreversible harm to human beings should cause a full halt, not a few tweaks and business as usual.

With all that has emerged, you would expect Scotland’s government to act. To shut Sandyford down, as Tavistock has been. The fact it has not done so suggests Ministers are more concerned about the political ramifications of questioning trans ideology, than the people suffering as a result of it.

Men, women, and children will continue to be harmed for as long as the powerful in Scotland shirk their responsibility to ask honest questions, and address injustice

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