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Artillery Row

Where is so much gender confusion coming from?

The scope of inquiry into gender and young people should be expanded to schools

The Cass Review into gender identity services for children and young people was published last week and has been discussed extensively by people, expert or not, on all sides of the debate. A consensus on the gender critical/child safeguarding side of the argument is that finally we have the research evidence which backs up what we have been saying for years: that there is no evidence that “gender-affirming” treatment for children works to improve outcomes, and some evidence that it may make things worse.

 In any event there has certainly been too little evidence to make sound clinical judgements because any follow-up on gender patients has been neglected and much of the research which has been carried out is of low quality. Transgender Trend has been evidence-gathering since 2015 and now Cass has vindicated their work and their conclusions. The final report was no surprise to many of us.  

Despite amateurish attempts to discredit a four-year independent review by Dr Hilary Cass OBE (consultant paediatrician and former President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health), there has been little to say from the trans activist side of the debate. The mighty Stonewall itself was forced to backpedal on its former “transwomen are women, get over it” stance and grudgingly concede that Cass may have a point. Unable to convincingly argue against the sensible recommendations from Cass without appearing to be totally lacking in either ethics or brain cells, many trans allies have pivoted towards the lowest common denominator, which is long waiting lists. We can probably all agree that waiting lists for youth mental health services are too long, so this is safe ground for complaints, and does not immediately show you up to be a monstrous child-devouring ideologue. 

The waiting lists for specific gender services have increased exponentially because the number of children identifying as trans has rocketed over the last decade. The gender critical/child safeguarding side of the debate has always been interested to know the reasons for this, but the trans activist side just wants to celebrate and shorten the waiting lists for trans-affirmative care.  

A few days after the publication of the Cass Review, another important document was made public: a legal advice report by KC Karen Monaghan, regarding the lawfulness of the Brighton Council/Allsorts Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit. This was commissioned by a couple of Brighton parents who had experienced first-hand the devastating impact of trans ideology being promoted in their child’s school. The evidence, much like the evidence in the Cass report, must be seen as damning of all professionals who accept unevidenced ideological beliefs to the detriment of normal safeguarding duties and legal compliance. Again, many of us were not surprised. For over six years, residents of Brighton have been challenging the council over the Allsorts toolkit and its neglect of the rights of girls in particular. We have spelled out time and again the incompatibility of the toolkit with the Equality Act and Human Rights legislation, only for it to fall on deaf ears.  

The mother at the centre of the case against Brighton Council, who must remain anonymous to protect her child, told me this: 

Teachers at our daughter’s school transitioned her, supported binding of her breasts and knew about her being prescribed testosterone but never told us.  They say the Brighton Toolkit allows them to do this. The same Toolkit has proliferated around the U.K. We were labelled irrational transphobes for questioning this practice. The Cass Report confirms we were right to be concerned. The Monaghan Advice shows the school and council were unlawful in their actions. We want every parent or teacher branded transphobic for challenging these policies to be empowered by Cass and have access to Monaghan so they can hold schools and councils to account, and vulnerable children can be supported with holistic, efficacious, evidence based and lawful care.  

On April 15th the Cass Review was debated in the House of Commons, led by Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Cross-party MPs spoke largely in favour of the review’s recommendations; some of them, like Rosie Duffield and Joanna Cherry, were acknowledged as having paid a high price for their own stance on the debate and praised for their courage in speaking up on a matter of principle. Several MPs called for a public inquiry into the NHS. Nick Fletcher for the Conservatives was keen to extend the scope of action from the NHS into schools, where much of the gender ideology has been taking root. Safe Schools Alliance have asked for a public inquiry into the capture of the education sector. 

Stella Creasy MP, always a public trans ally, was careful to ask for action which concentrated on making more resources available for services, to cope with the long waiting lists. But in the tweet of her speech, she inadvertently exposed the real problem. She wrote “Cass report could be moment to join up services for all children questioning gender…” The phrase “questioning gender” is becoming more common, alongside variations such as “gender-confused”, partly in response to criticism over the political nature of labelling a child as “trans”, but also because of distaste around the term “gender dysphoria” with its connotations of mental ill health. But in trying to describe children in a way that avoids politics or mental health, you end up accidentally exposing the truth – that children are “questioning” or “confused”, and you must then ask where those children’s questions and confusion are coming from.  

We have been drilled into the belief that “you can’t make a child trans”, but apart from the fact that an innate state of transness is unlikely and unprovable, you can definitely make a child “confused” and you can certainly put “questions” into a child’s head which weren’t there before. Social media has been blamed for much of the rise in childhood mental health problems, but in the case of “gender” the ideas are being backed up by institutions such as schools and the BBC. Children are encouraged to believe there are hundreds of genders to choose from and that where they sit on the Barbie/GI Jo spectrum is important and a matter of personal choice. Inevitably there will be children who are confused by this and some who find the questions worrying. Many will be influenced, in unpredictable ways.   

We are creating children who are “gender-confused” or “gender-questioning”

Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkits, such as the Allsorts/Brighton Council one, alongside an increasingly large library of trans picture books for young children, are taking away the security of fixed sex identity for children and replacing it with a confusing smorgasbord of “gender” choice which many children cannot cope with. We are creating children who are “gender-confused” or “gender-questioning” (which are both used as synonyms for “trans”) and then, as the queues grow, asking where the services are for “trans kids”. We have a schools-to-clinic pipeline.  

If you want to reduce the waiting lists for unhappy children, then part of the solution is to look more critically at the source of their unhappiness. When that source consists of outside agencies with an ideological agenda having a disproportionate influence on schools and education, that needs to be stopped. Bring on the public enquiry.  

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