Parents battle ‘state‑sponsored sterilisation’ of trans children The Sunday Times 28.10.19

The original article is here.

More than 30 families with transgender children are to lobby the government and the NHS against what they claim is “coerced medicalisation” — propelling vulnerable young people convinced they are the wrong gender towards treatments that risk leaving them infertile.

The group, provisionally called Our Duty, was formed after one mother went public to describe gender reassignment medication and surgery for those with autism or psychological problems as “state-sponsored sterilisation”.

The mother, whose daughter has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autistic traits and believes she is male, was speaking in London to governors at the only NHS trust specialising in the treatment of transgender young people.

Doctors at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which houses the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), have agreed to meet the group this week. The meeting, believed to be a first, follows a difficult year for the trust, including a report in which staff raised serious ethical concerns.

The clinic already faces a challenge from Sue Evans, a Gids psychotherapist from 2003 to 2007, who plans to ask the courts to say that children cannot give informed consent to “radical experimental medical treatment” such as hormones to block puberty. The hormones are prescribed from age 11 and are often followed by cross-sex hormones at the age of 16, creating a risk of infertility.

The parents are determined to fight what they call the automatic “affirmation” model that discourages professionals from questioning young people who say they want to change gender. They say other possible causes of distress are rarely investigated.

Nearly all of the parents in the group have children who “suddenly” identified as transgender. The parents fear some are simply gay and have been persuaded that the confusion they feel about their sexuality is a sign they were born “trapped in the wrong body”.

Some are on the autistic spectrum, reflecting statistics that show autistic young people are overrepresented among those identifying as transgender. Almost all the group are parents of daughters: 74% of referrals to Gids are girls, compared with 43% in 2010-11.

The parents say their children decided they were trans after spending time in internet chatrooms focused on gender identity, or were influenced by classmates and LGBT activist groups.

One mother lost her son to suicide in January. He became convinced he was a woman as his mental health broke down at the end of a heterosexual relationship. Aged 32 when he died, he had suffered depression and anxiety as a child and attempted suicide as a teenager.

The mother is adamant he was “persuaded” he was a woman during his mental health crisis. “It just doesn’t make any sense that hundreds of young vulnerable people with mental health issues like my son are being led by the LGBT lobby into the delusion they were born the wrong sex,” she said. “Then the medical profession are offering to fix their bodies instead of their minds.”

A father in the group said: “I couldn’t change my daughter’s mind so I have to change the minds of those doing this to her. My daughter is not transitioning, she is being transitioned by an LGBT cult and by medical professionals. If the mind is telling you the body is wrong, fix the mind, not the body.

“If they proceed to surgery we’re talking about removing healthy breasts and wombs from young women and functioning penises from young men to be replaced by extensions and inversions with high complication rates that require lifelong maintenance.”

He said his daughter went through puberty at 10 and developed large breasts — also reported in several other cases in the group — which he thinks may have made her feel uncomfortable about her body.

She came out as lesbian, then decided at 18 she was non-binary. He learnt his child was transgender from a school letter using male pronouns.

His daughter, now 20, has been prescribed the male hormone testosterone. “My heart dropped through my intestines when I found out,” the father said. “She’ll always be my little girl but her voice is deeper than mine.”

Some of the parents have been accused of being in denial. The Tavistock declined to comment.

@SianGriffiths6