We are very pleased the government has announced that it is abandoning plans for a conversion therapy bill. We applaud the government for listening to and taking seriously the concerns of clinical professionals and parents, rather than being swayed by activists for the sake of scoring political points. This is a good decision for the protection of children and young people experiencing gender-related distress, and the government must be commended for putting children first.
The proposed conversion therapy bill was muddled and open to interpretation, exposing children and young people to further risk of an ideology-based approach which only confirms a transgender identity.
Children experiencing gender dysphoria deserve the highest standard of clinical care in line with other paediatric mental health support services, as highlighted in the Cass Interim Report. A legal ban on ‘transgender conversion therapy’ would have further politicised an area of child and adolescent care that urgently needs to be separated from politics and ideology.
The Cass Interim Report makes clear that clinicians and therapists already feel pressure to adopt an unquestioning ‘affirmation’ approach to children who self-identify as ‘transgender’ and that this is “at odds with the standard process of clinical assessment and diagnosis that they have been trained to undertake in all other clinical encounters.”
Transgender Trend has worked for over five years to challenge the addition of ‘gender identity’ to the professional practice guide, the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy (MOU). Our concern that it would have a chilling effect on therapists has been confirmed numerous times by parents and professionals over the years, and has now been vindicated by the Cass report.
A legal ban on ‘transgender conversion therapy’ would have made this situation even worse than it is now. For children and young people experiencing gender-related distress the MOU has been an unmitigated disaster. We hope that the Cass Review will finally ensure that children and adolescents receive the proper standard of care they deserve.
We now need real investment in local CAMHS services for children experiencing gender-related distress and we have confidence that the government will continue to develop policies that are in the best interests of children, in line with the Cass Review.