In their demands for a government ban on conversion therapy, extreme gender ideology advocates such as Stonewall lobby for the ‘affirmation’ or ‘gender affirmative’ approach towards those who identify as transgender, including children and young people. With the addition of ‘gender identity’ to the 2017 Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy (MoU) activists are framing anything other than affirmation as ‘anti-trans’ and a form of conversion therapy for trans-identified people.
Affirmation and social transition is an experimental approach towards children and young people with gender dysphoria. It is not a model which has been informed and developed through clinical research and evidence but one which has been promoted by the extreme gender lobby. The established global model of care for children with gender dysphoria is a ‘watchful waiting’ approach which does not steer a child towards any pre-determined outcome.
Does Affirmation and Social Transition prevent boys from growing up to be gay?
The results of an important new study from Singh, Bradley & Zucker on gender identity & sexual orientation of clinic-referred pre-pubertal boys are consistent with the results of all previous studies of persistence and desistance. Using the largest sample to date, with a follow-up mean age of 20.58 years, the study found only a 12.2% persistence rate. 87.8 % desisted and 63.6% grew up to be gay. We know that under a watchful waiting approach around 80% of children outgrow gender dysphoria and the most likely outcome is same-sex orientation in adulthood. Becoming transsexual as an adult is the least likely outcome.
What evidence do we have regarding the affirmation and social transition approach towards children with gender dysphoria?
A 2013 research study by Steensma et al found that social transition is the most powerful predictor of persistence of childhood gender dysphoria. In other words, social transition of pre-pubertal children may prevent them from growing up to be gay. So what is ‘gender identity’ doing on the MoU on conversion therapy when there is a risk that affirmation and social transition is a form of gay conversion therapy in itself?
Is Affirmation and Social Transition gay conversion therapy for lesbian and gay adolescents?
What of the new cohort of adolescents referred to the Tavistock (75% girls) who suddenly self-diagnose as transgender at or during puberty, having experienced no gender dysphoria as young children? Termed Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (Littman 2018) this is a completely new presentation. Despite the lack of knowledge of this group, the cautious ‘watchful waiting’ approach has been discarded in favour of the extreme one-size-fits all affirmation model: “If you identify as a boy you are a boy”, no questions asked.
What percentage of these teenage referrals are lesbian or gay before ‘coming out’ as trans?
A study of referrals of adolescents (12+) to the Tavistock in 2012 showed that, of the girls, 67.6% were lesbian and 21.1% were bisexual. Of the boys, 42.3% were gay and 38.5% were bisexual. (Holt et al 2014).
In the 2018 Lisa Littman study females made up 82% of cases. Parents reported that 41% had expressed a non-heterosexual sexual orientation before identifying as transgender.
A 2017 study has shown that exposure to sustained homophobic bullying and name-calling can change a young person’s gender identity.
A 2019 study of adolescents and young adults referred to a UK gender service (16 – 25years) reports that many transgender people identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and experience homophobic bullying before later identifying as transgender.
The evidence shows that the majority of adolescents and young people now identifying as transgender are lesbian, gay or bisexual, and that homophobic bullying is indicated as a possible reason. This is cause for serious concern that ‘affirmation’ is a way of ‘transing away the gay.’ Why is Stonewall not alarmed by this?
What does ‘affirmation’ really affirm?
To the non-conforming teenage lesbian who does not live up to the ideal model of femininity, who does not feel acceptable as a girl, who may be bullied and called ‘lezza’, who may feel ashamed of her emerging sexual orientation, develop internalised homophobia and come out as trans, it is the bullies’ message that is affirmed. “You are wrong”; “You are not a proper girl”. Further, “You are not a lesbian, you are a straight boy”.
To the sensitive, effeminate teenage boy who fails to fit into the macho culture of his peers, who is taunted with homophobic insults and abuse, who feels ashamed of his sexual orientation, develops internalised homophobia, wonders if he is really a girl and comes out as trans, affirmation confirms he is correct: he is not gay, he is really a heterosexual girl.
Affirmation affirms that the child is wrong; not society, not other peoples’ attitudes, not homophobia, not the bullies. In their perception of their wrongness, their self-blame, their feeling that it is their fault, that it is wrong to be gay, the adolescent is affirmed as correct. Affirmation of your own self-hatred is not ‘kind.’
So is affirmation and social transition of children a new form of gay conversion therapy?
The evidence we have suggests that the answer is yes. What we know of the continuing problem of homophobic bullying in schools reinforces the likelihood of gay and lesbian adolescents changing to a trans identity. The mocked and vilified young lesbian becomes the cool trans guy on T. What we see in the burgeoning number of detransitioner Twitter accounts also adds to the evidence: the majority of young women who regret their transition realise that they are actually lesbians, not trans.
Where is Stonewall to support these young people, to say ‘It’s okay to be gay’? Stonewall are busy promoting the idea that there is such a thing as ‘gender identity conversion therapy’ with a new report out in conjunction with Mermaids, GIRES, the LGBT Foundation and the Ozanne Foundation. Stonewall has abandoned sexual orientation altogether, in favour of the pseudo-science of gender identity.
Lesbian and gay young people are being encouraged to see themselves as heterosexual members of the opposite sex on social media, in schools, and explicitly through the strategy of affirmation. The demands on the government to ban “gay conversion therapy” is a sham.