Tavistock Centre accused of silencing debate after book removed from library Telegraph 18.01.20

The original article is here.

The NHS’s only specialised clinic for transgender children has been accused of silencing debate after removing a book from its library which raised concerns about treating youngsters who are confused about their gender.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is home to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) which has seen a surge in the number of children referred for gender dysphoria.

Now the Tavistock Centre is understood to be facing a backlash from its staff after withdrawing a book from its library in which academics question the clinical and ethical basis for allowing children to undergo gender transition.

Inventing Transgender Children and Young People was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing last autumn and is a collection of essays by clinicians, psychologists and sociologists.

The book’s contributors highlight the long-term ramifications for children’s physical, psychological and emotional health if they are allowed to change their gender.

Writing the book’s forward, Dr David Bell, a consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock Centre, warns that transgender children who undergo medical or surgical treatments risk “serious and irreversible damage”.

The Tavistock Centre confirmed that the book had been withdrawn from its library following a complaint about its contents.

Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans, one of the book’s editors, said she believes it was removed “because its ideas are unpalatable to some people”, adding that the Centre’s management appear to have adopted a “bunker mentality”.

She said:  “An institution where a whole range of ideas can be considered but not these ones demonstrates to me the ideological position of the GIDS. We cannot be a society that withdraws books just because one person objects, that is authoritarian.”

Dr Brunskell-Evans told The Sunday Telegraph that she is aware of an internal protest against the Tavistock Centre’s management  about the book’s removal.

“There is an insistence from staff that it should be there,” she said. “An institution that is part of the NHS, funded by all of us taxpayers, needs to have a range of different opinions and views.”

A spokesman for The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust said: “We support and value free speech and are committed to promoting opportunities for open and respectful debate.

“This must be balanced with the necessity to safeguard the safety, health and welfare of our students, patients, and staff.

“The book was ordered by our Trust library. A serious complaint was received about the content of the book. Pending an investigation of the issues raised, the book has been withdrawn from circulation.”

Last year ministers ordered a review to establish why there has been a surge in the number of girls seeking help. Almost three-quarters of children seeking help with their gender are now female-born.

Children can only be referred to GIDS by their GP or by the child and adolescent  mental health service. After six months of psycho-social assessment by a clinician, an action plan would be drawn up, which could be continuing with counselling, or it could be a physical intervention.

Children who have started puberty, from around the age of 12, can be referred to an endocrinology clinic which can prescribe a course of hormone blockers, which postpones puberty.

Children aged 16 and over could be given cross-sex hormones, which would enable them to take on the physical characteristics of the opposite sex.

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