Over the past few years there has been a global rise in the number of children referred to gender clinics. There is no reliable scientific basis for the diagnosis of transgender, nor long-term research on the outcome of treatments. Setting children off on a path towards medicalisation with irreversible life-long effects is an experiment which has no precedent.
Transgender Trend – Who Are We?
We are an organisation of parents, professionals and academics based in the UK who are concerned about the current trend to diagnose children as transgender, including the unprecedented number of teenage girls suddenly self-identifying as ‘trans’ (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria or ROGD). We are also concerned about legislation which places transgender rights above the right to safety for girls and young women in public toilets and changing rooms along with fairness for girls in sport.
We have no religious or political affiliation. We come from diverse backgrounds, and our team includes teachers and safeguarding professionals, academics and parents, some of whom were themselves extreme gender non-conforming children and adolescents, some whose own children have self-diagnosed as ‘trans’ and some who know supportive trans adults who are also questioning recent theories of ‘transgenderism.’ Unfortunately because of the current climate our team members have to remain anonymous for the protection of their children or their jobs.
Why ‘Transgender Trend’?
Parents were telling us that this was the search term they were using to find alternative information about the sudden phenomenon of ‘transgender children’, as the only information they could find online came from transgender lobby groups. Our goal was to collate evidence-based research and studies to help explain the sudden upwards trend of referrals of children and adolescents to the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), a trend which is reflected in the US, Canada, Australia and throughout Europe.
We are concerned that the increased public awareness of transgender issues has led to parents worrying unnecessarily about normal childhood behaviours. We wanted to create a site which balanced the sudden slew of cheerleading media stories with some research and facts which challenge the prevailing acceptance of an ideology which is new, untested, and invariably based on personal belief systems.
We also want to provide information on legislation regarding the use of public toilets, bathrooms and changing rooms for parents who are concerned about the child protection and safeguarding issues this raises.
Our work is voluntary, non-profit and unpaid, so we rely on personal donations to keep going. Our work includes research, travel to events, letter-writing, media interviews, consultancy, press releases, speaking and meeting with legislators and policy-makers and creating and publishing resources. Sign up to the blog to keep updated with our activities.
Introducing Our Founder and Director
Stephanie Davies-Arai is a communication skills trainer and author of Communicating with Kids. She has worked with parents and teachers for over twenty years, including eight years at a primary school in East Sussex in various roles including parent governor. She is an experienced speaker on parenting, feminism and ‘transgender’ children. She has spoken at events around the UK, including in the House of Commons and the House of Lords and has been interviewed across the media, including Good Morning Britain, BBC Woman’s Hour, The Today programme and Newsnight. She founded the organisation Transgender Trend in 2015 and produced a schools guide Supporting gender diverse and trans-identified students in schools in 2018, for which she was shortlisted for the John Maddox prize 2018, an award which “recognises the work of individuals who promote sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest, facing difficulty or hostility in doing so.” Stephanie has contributed chapters to Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body and Inventing Transgender Children and Young People, both collections of essays edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore, published by Cambridge Scholars.
Frequently asked questions
Aren’t you just transphobic?
No, we believe that transgender people deserve the same civil and human rights as all of us and should not face discrimination. As the term ‘phobic’ literally means ‘irrational fear’ we want to make it very clear that we are not afraid of, or prejudiced against, transgender people in any way.
You’re just part of the intolerant religious Right aren’t you?
No again. Within our group we have different or no religious or political affiliations, we are mostly left-leaning and liberal but we don’t see this as a party political issue. We set up this project only to support parents and to challenge what is a completely new diagnosis and treatment of children. We are examining the trans narrative, its claims and how it is being applied to children and young people.
What do you mean by ‘the trans narrative’?
We mean the stories surrounding trans issues which have become regarded as fact and interpreted as universal truth. Although we respect everyone’s individual story and acknowledge the importance of hearing personal testimony, we feel this needs to be balanced with research and scientific inquiry in order to arrive at a realistic picture unprejudiced by personal beliefs.
Why can’t you just support trans people if you’ve got nothing against them?
Our concern is children. Whilst we have no objection to adults behaving in any way they choose (as long as they are not harming others) we also feel a responsibility to get things right for children, as they are the ones who may be harmed if the theories are wrong.
But if kids are really trans shouldn’t we just help them?
We don’t have any evidence that children really are trans, this is a very new phenomenon which is based on no credible scientific research. Children’s preference for particular toys and activities just reflects their personalities and we need to take care not to read any deeper meaning into their choices, but allow children to explore and form their own identities at their own pace. Behaviour which does not conform to rigid gender ‘norms’ is not unusual and ‘gender dysphoria’ is poorly understood. We are in danger of jumping to assumptions about children based on only one allowed interpretation informed by political ideology.
What about the trans people who knew they were trans from a very young age?
We can’t speak for individuals and their personal experiences. We do know, however, that the nature of memory is to project current awareness backwards in time in order to affirm a present belief, so this has to be taken into account when we hear such experiences. In any case, it is reverse logic to say that because some people ‘always knew’ they were trans this means that every child exhibiting non gender-conforming behaviour must also therefore be trans. Many adults (particularly gay and lesbian adults) also have childhood memories of fiercely believing themselves to be the opposite sex, but they came to terms with their sex during adolescence. Their stories may also be used as ‘evidence’ that children grow out of such feelings but their voices are not heard in this debate.
Why do you deny that kids are much happier when parents accept they are trans?
We do hear these reports from parents in media stories about ‘trans kids,’ we don’t deny this can happen. We do, however, question the assumption that this happiness stems from being accepted for ‘who they really are’ or whether it is just the relief of being able to dress/behave in the way they wish to, with adult acceptance and approval. There may also be great rewards for the child in terms of becoming the centre of attention and achieving special status among parents, teachers and peers. ‘Trans kids’ gain a lot of power among the adults around them, especially if the school also takes part in their ‘social transition’ and changes whole school policies for them. This is an irresistible situation for many children. We believe that children would ultimately be happier if parents accepted them for who they are, without reinforcing their belief that their body is ‘wrong.’ Sometimes short-term happiness can lead to long-term regret.
Why don’t you just listen to children, they know who they are better than you.
We do believe in listening to children, we think it’s really important. But listening doesn’t mean always agreeing with a child. Children know who they are as children, they can’t know how they will change, in fact the belief that you will never change is a symptom of childhood and adolescence. Pre-pubertal children are at the stage of magical thinking, to affirm a boy (for example) that he is really a girl will be accepted at face value by a child who can have no idea of what it really means, and no understanding of the reality of the medical pathway that lies ahead. We know that in fact around 80% of children do ‘grow out of it’ and come to accept and be happy as the sex they were born.
You’re just forcing your own beliefs onto other people aren’t you?
No, our aim is just to provide an alternative source of information for parents worried that their child may be trans, as the information currently available online is overwhelmingly biased in one direction only. We believe that parents have a right to access all the relevant facts in order to be able to make informed decisions regarding their own children. Nobody is forced to agree with us.
You just can’t accept that the world has moved on, aren’t you just resisting reality like the homophobes of the past?
We abhor homophobia, just to make that clear. We wholeheartedly support everyone’s right to their own sexual orientation, and we agree that lesbian and gay people had (and still have) a hard fight against discrimination. Transgender is not a sexual orientation and we don’t believe that current trans theory is ‘moving on’, but rather regressing to a state of conservative gender ‘norms’ which we are now imposing on children. We feel that truly progressive thought would accept that (for example) a boy can play with dolls, dress up in pretty things and enjoy female company and still be a boy. Childhood gender non-conformity and cross-sex identity is more predictive of gay or lesbian sexual orientation in adulthood than transsexualism, so labeling children ‘transgender’ and setting them on a path of medication and sterilisation for life can be seen as a form of gay conversion therapy and therefore homophobic in itself.
Do your research! Don’t you know that gender is innate in the brain and some people are just born in the wrong body?
It’s more accurate to say that some people feel as if they have been born in the wrong body. To be a true conflict between brain and body at birth, there would need to be a ‘gender’ area of the brain which is innate, fixed, and as impervious to influence as the biologically sexed human body is. Everything we know about brain function suggests the opposite; the human brain is plastic, open to influence and suggestion, and responsive to nurture, environment and experience. We don’t mean to minimise the distress of gender dysphoria (which we accept is real) but we question the interpretation that any child is literally ‘born in the wrong body.’ We reject the (unproven) idea that ‘gender’ is innate in the brain. Gender is a set of behaviour and personality expectations applied to the sexes, which can differ from culture to culture. It is impossible to separate any cognitive brain function from the environmental influences which help to shape it.