Inventing Transgender Children and Young People Edited by Michele Moore and Heather Brunskell-Evans, Cambridge Scholars Publishing,
2019, hb, 276pp, £61.99, ISBN 978-1527536388
Dr Julie Maxwell writes for the Family Education Trust – This book is a collection of contributions from academics, psychiatrists, parents and young adults who transitioned as children but now question the process they underwent. An effective challenge to transgenderism as a biological reality, the book argues that it is an invented concept with no basis in neuroscience, psychology or psychiatry.
It raises concerns that gender ideology is being pushed in schools and workplaces by transgender and LGBT groups including Mermaids, Stonewall, and the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES). It expresses increasing alarm around medical treatment of children and young people who are questioning their gender identity.
Gender Ideology in Schools
Stephanie Davies-Arai and Susan Matthews write about ‘gender identity’ and ‘queering the curriculum’.
The organisations mentioned above are advising and providing training for the police, Home Office, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison and Probation Service, Department for Education and NHS. The existence of biological sex is denied openly in schools where the youngest children are read books which say things like ‘we can’t always tell if you’re a boy or you’re a girl’ or ‘babies can’t talk so grown-ups make a guess by looking at their bodies’.
Books and resources advocate adult validation of a child’s gender identity because only the child can truly know
who they are and be happy when they are allowed to be their true self. Social transition is encouraged. In a book
called Can I Tell you About Gender Diversity? 12-year old Kit explains that: ‘when I asked people to start calling me Kit, and using he/her pronouns, this is called a social transition’. Many of the books promoted by lobby groups associate any gender non-conformity with transgender. For example, liking ‘boy things’ means you really are a boy, regardless of biological reality. Those who are not ‘trans’ are labelled ‘cis’ and overwhelmingly portrayed as negative! Gender ideology requires the redefinition of everyone and a ‘cisgender’
identity is seen as conforming to sexist stereotypes, while being trans is portrayed as the only way to express nonconformity.
The majority of pre-pubescent children who display gender dysphoria do not retain this into adolescence, yet books used in schools misrepresent this evidence by suggesting that gender identity is unalterable. Jamie – A Transgender Cinderella Story says: ‘Tonight Jamie had felt right for the first time and he knew this would be how things would stay’. A GIRES presentation asserts as scientific fact that gender identity is innate and shows pictures of blue brains and pink brains, encouraging children to believe that you can literally have a girl’s brain in a boy’s body or vice versa.
Medical transition is portrayed as a simple process to prevent unhappiness. One book states:
‘Medical transition for people my age is usually hormone blockers. These stop me from going through female puberty and stop my body from developing in ways that make me unhappy’.
Stonewall directs teachers to encourage and facilitate pupils’ transition without parental consent:
‘…not all young people will want their parent/carers to know they are … trans, and for staff to discuss this with
parents/carers without the young persons consent would be a breach of confidentiality.’
Gender ideology in clinical practice
Academics Michael Biggs and Heather Brunskell-Evans, together with a number of clinicians, examine the treatment given to children and young people which is increasingly driven by ideology rather than evidence.
The NHS’s only clinic for children and young people with gender dysphoria, the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), is under increasing scrutiny for its role in the invention of the transgender child. Brunskell-Evans states:
‘GIDS offers physically healthy… normal children…dangerous, off-label drug treatment with lifelong deleterious consequences on the basis of a child’s subjective feeling, for which there is no scientific test.’
While activist groups affect teaching in schools they also have a significant influence over clinicians, many of whom are afraid to question the ideology. Some speak out anonymously, but those who go public are silenced.
A number of clinicians have raised the concern that only an ‘affirmative model’ is practiced at GIDS. Children’s feelings and beliefs are taken at face value rather than looking at all possible underlying issues, which should be the first step in the assessment and treatment of these children.
Concern is also raised about the use of hormone blockers in children. A child cannot give informed consent to hormone therapy because ‘the medical consequences are extremely complex and a child will have little or no cognisance of a future in which he or she may come to regret lost fertility or the lack of organs for sexual pleasure’.
The use of hormone blockers was supposedly being undertaken as a study by GIDS. However the results have never been published and some unpublished results report negative outcomes including greater self-harm and more emotional and behavioural problems. What we know about hormone blockers is that almost all children that start on them progress to cross-sex hormones; despite studies showing around 85% of children with gender dysphoria will not retain it past adolescence. This effectively destroys their ability to have children and impedes the development of sexual functioning.
Gender ideology and the “detransitioners”
There are increasing numbers of young adults coming forward who, having
undergone varying degrees of transition, realise that it has not brought them happiness. Three such people contributed to this book. They give their perspectives on the ‘psychological rollercoaster’ they went through in becoming transgender and the process of transitioning and detransitioning.
While expensive, this book is important for anyone who wants to understand the current debate around transgender children. Children deserve to be protected from destructive ideologies and unethical medical treatments. They deserve the guidance of responsible adults who make decisions based upon their long-term best interests not just on what they think will make them feel good now.