Earlier this summer Justine Greening, the UK's Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, announced that gender could be legally changed without any medical diagnosis, promising publication of a consultation on her proposed Gender Recognition Act this autumn.
Her initiative has rightly been criticised, see here and here, for uncritically following the new gender ideology (pushed by various interest lobbies, some of which are state-funded) which has it that some people are born in the wrong body and we are (and should be able to be) the gender we feel ourselves to be.
Medics have already described her zeal in applying this thinking to policy as unscientific, dangerous and part of a wider social strategy.
It is a strategy that is already having a disturbing effect. As if in a self-fulfilling prophecy, dramatically rising numbers of children are coming out as transgender. Instead of viewing this as a cause for concern, Greening plans to push these ideas on even younger children. Her Children and Social Work Bill will make sex education, along with 'personal, social and health education’, compulsory in all primary schools in Britain. It might sound relatively innocuous, but the Women and Equalities Committee which advises Greening says, in paragraph 361 of a recent report, that this means teaching 'trans issues’.
Further, some of the trans activist groups who have influenced this report may be doing the teaching. The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) is a transgender (TG) support charity that offers training to schools, police, law firms and health professionals. Their lessons, for children as young as three, are designed to be read out loud by a teacher. One such is about a penguin ‘whose gender identity as a girl was not immediately understood by her family; they thought she was a boy’.
For seven-year-olds they have a story about Peter, whose parent ‘has transitioned to live as a woman’, and for 11-year-olds there are lesson plan debates on ‘the Gender Question’ in which ‘one pupil could be given the task of defending the decision to operate on the infant to create a female appearance and to raise the child as a girl’.
Another trans advocate group, Gendered Intelligence, advises the Women and Equalities Committee. Their booklet for 16-year-olds explains that 'A woman is still a woman, even if she enjoys getting blow jobs. A man is still a man, even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally. How you have sex need not affect your identity’.
It beggars belief that Justine Greening or any member of the Women and Equality Committee think such a casually crude discussion of sex, for trans people or otherwise, is appropriate.
GIRES has also produced an e-learning module, funded by the NHS, for teachers and health professionals. It gives as an example a little girl called Masie who says she is a boy. Trainees are given no option to ask why. Masie's belief is automatically to be accepted with name, clothing and pronoun changes in a process known in the USA as 'social transitioning' to reinforce this belief through peer groups, parents and school.
Children’s brains are vulnerable and suggestible, which is exactly why law courts are so cautious before children are asked to testify on this matter. From around the age of three children both mimic adults and trust their authority. Children also follow the group’s behaviour. They cannot fully understand cause, effect or consequences. It is frightening that the Department for Education has so little understanding of children’s development stages.
It should know that children as old as six use ‘magical thinking’, form false concepts and perceive fantasy as reality, Father Christmas being the prime example.
It should know too about the neuroplasticity of the brain as it develops. This is the scientific term to explain the process by which our brains experience lasting change in response to environment, a process which continues into and through teenage life. By the time Masie approaches her teens, 'social transitioning' may well have hardwired her brain. She will ‘know’ she is really a boy and be desperate to avoid puberty.
Some believe the ‘social transitioning’ process builds in a need for each new stage of transition, as the fear of being trapped in the wrong body grows – firstly with puberty blockers, then with cross-sex hormones and finally with surgery.
It is no surprise, then, that kids are ‘coming out’ in clusters where schools promote the trans agenda, and that therapists are seeing patterns of 'social contagion' in ‘sudden onset gender dysphoria’ where teenagers binge on Tumblr, Reddit or YouTube. TV may well have had an impact, too, with several clinicians noting how children claimed the BBC documentary Transgender Kids 'made me realise’.
From school to gender clinic, a pipeline is under construction and medical treatment is changing too. Until recently, most therapists in the USA took a cautious approach to children with the condition described by medics as gender dysphoria.
The view was that by looking at deeper problems patients could be helped to accept their own bodies, and that the evidence showed most such children grew out of their feelings.
But after years of lobbying by trans activists in the US, a frightening new orthodoxy has taken over which decrees that children as young as three know their internal gender identity but which, at the same time, fails to acknowledge that ‘transitioning’ can lead to depression and even suicide later on.
Many leading health professionals in America are now advocating this new approach, ‘gender affirmation’, which unquestioningly accepts a child’s claim they are in the wrong body. Some therapists are even introducing this idea to children who may not have thought of it.
Further, in an act of inverted logic, nine states in the US have banned therapy aimed at changing the 'sexual orientation' of minors . If a five-year-old girl feels she is a boy it may be illegal for a therapist to question this, and some have been sacked for doing so.
This legal, medical and political lock-out of dissent in the US is covering up serious problems. Firstly the entire premise is false. Long-standing research into identical twins shows the ‘wrong body’ concept simply has no basis in science Transsexuality Among Twins: Identity Concordance, Transition, Rearing, and Orientation.
Secondly there is the question of the increasing numbers who realise that changing their gender was not the answer and now want to de-transition. There are also reports of botched surgery, and some are left unable to achieve orgasm. The risks of hormone treatment, too, are dangerously under-researched, while many patients simply don't understand the reality of gender transition. This consent form from a UK transgender clinic tells you all you need to know about the world of unknowns that they are signing up to.
Thirdly, up to 75 per cent of children with gender dysphoria can have pre-existing mental disorders such as anxiety, anorexia, depression or autism. Some feel they were misled by therapists who ignored these underlying issues, using transition as a cure. Many remain depressed and suicidal after surgery. Also disturbing is the rise in young girls coming out as transgender, given the high levels of body disorders among this group.
Finally, the internet is a source of dangerous advice too. Some sites advise on how to bind your chest, and then there are the internet chat rooms, described as cult-like, where confused youngsters are encouraged to hate their bodies.
No wonder some medics in Europe remain cautious and others in America believe there is a better way.
Doctors at Britain’s leading children’s gender clinic are also increasingly concerned about early intervention, as is Dr James Barrett of the Charing Cross clinic. Thankfully, the NHS still prioritises psychotherapy for children with gender dysphoria. Doctors at the Tavistock Clinic, too, remain cautious about physical intervention, and emphasise that ‘most prepubescent children with gender dysphoria will have a different outcome in adulthood’.
Yet parents are being given a misleading choice of suicide or transition for their children. UK trans activists, often with no medical qualifications, are pressing ahead. Professionals in both public and private sectors are under huge pressure to accept their trans agenda. Most recently reported is a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ drawn up by a working group of health professional and trans lobbyists, to take effect next month in the UK, which will effectively prevent a therapist from exploring any reasons underlying a referring patient.
Politicians hungry for the youth vote or keen to be seen as 'social justice warriors' need no persuasion. Greening’s Children and Social Work Act is going through Parliament, so it may not be long before 'wrong body' theories with little more scientific evidence than creationism are taught to every child in the country.
There is time still. Justine Greening must wake up and look at Australia, which saw a spike in confused and depressed children after state schools introduced this agenda. Dr John Whitehall of West Sydney University called it a ‘massive intrusion into the minds and bodies of children . . . It’s a collective madness. There, parents led a petition and funding was withdrawn.
Here, an apparently irresistible force of politicians and activists is on the march, determined to turn a medical condition into learned behaviour and teach it to every child in the country. Vulnerable and lonely youngsters caught up in Britain’s mental health crisis risk seeing gender transition as the answer. Unable to give truly informed consent, many will embark on a life of hormone treatment, surgery and untold difficulties. Some may be happy with their new identity. But others will have been sacrificed for a political ideology; never be able to reclaim the bodies that they could have learned to be happy with, while all our children will be forced to live the lie that you can choose your gender.
Simon Marcus is co-founder of the Boxing Academy and a former Government adviser on education policy. This article was first published on The Conservative Woman and is republished with permissin.