Open Letter to Tavistock GIDS

We write in regard to the recent reports in the Sunday Times which revealed  “very serious ethical concerns” expressed by a number of staff members at Tavistock GIDS, and the warning that some young patients could be exposed to “long-term damage” due to pressures from campaign groups and parents.

Subsequently, a review of recent research by Professor Carl Heneghan, revealed on BBC Panorama, exposed the lack of robust research and evidence to support the medical treatment of children with gender dysphoria, concluding: “The current evidence base does not support informed decision making and safe practice.”

We write as critical friends of Tavistock GIDS on behalf of the many parents who have contacted us over the years, from the perspective of their collective experience of daughters and sons who have suddenly adopted a transgender identity in adolescence, with no prior indication of gender dysphoria in early childhood.

The treatment of children with gender dysphoria has become a highly politicised issue.

We recognise the profound changes in background factors when a child presents with any kind of gender confusion today. These new factors are not only very recent but they are changing rapidly. They include the following:

*The role of the internet in children’s lives: this is a new social media generation.

* Political activism: the ideology-driven re-education of children and young people in schools and society which reinforces messages from social media sites such as Tumblr, Reddit and YouTube.

*Social transition: children and young people may be socially transitioned before referral to the Tavistock, and ideas about gender and self-identification as transgender may already be entrenched.

*The uncoupling of ‘gender dysphoria’ from ‘transgender’ which has recast a clinical condition as a political identity.

*The unprecedented increase in the number of teenage girls referred to gender clinics and the poorly understood new phenomenon of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria after puberty.

*The increasing number of children and teenagers presenting with pre-existing mental health issues, neuro-divergent conditions such as autism and troubled or traumatic backgrounds.

*The change in language from ‘transsexual’ to ‘transgender’: the rise of Queer theory as a model of understanding of transgender identities, including in children.

*A political climate of fear of challenging or disagreeing with these ideas among professionals and throughout wider society.

These factors need to be understood in relation to the care of children and young people presenting to GIDS, and mechanisms in place to take account of this rapid social change. There is little clinical understanding or established approach towards ROGD teenagers for example: how does a care pathway evolve on the basis of minimal research evidence?

The role of GIDS is becoming unclear in light of these changes. Is its function:

  1. To help and support the individual child or young person affected by gender dysphoria, taking into account the whole child, their developmental stage, social context and unique circumstances?
  2. To validate the ‘transgender child’ in service of an ideological and political rights movement?

Tavistock GIDS has to operate within a context of increasing pressure to adopt an essentialist theory of gender which is unscientific and unproven. We recognise that political pressure, hostility and accusations of ‘transphobia’ will create a particular challenge in maintaining a position of neutrality.

However, the role of clinicians should not be to validate and reinforce the ideas of one political lobby at the expense of evidence and clinical experience.

The demands of activists should not be allowed to pressure clinicians entrusted with the care of children and young people. The influence of lobby groups such as Mermaids, GIRES and Gendered Intelligence is being felt in both health and educational settings, through schools toolkits and NHS professional development resources.

Other professionals such as teachers look to the Tavistock for guidance so the Tavistock must be guided by peer-reviewed research and evidence-based practice.

We owe it to our children to ensure that best practice is not derailed by any currently popular belief system and we are concerned that the integrity of GIDS may be compromised if clinicians feel afraid to speak openly about their concerns. The culture of intimidation felt in wider society should not be extended into the arena of clinical care for children.

We call for honest and transparent investigation and review of current dilemmas at GIDS and we demand, in the service of our children and young people, that clinical practice be clearly separated from political activism in all spheres of healthcare and the care of children.


This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Linda Barnes

    I love that people and organizations are finally getting brave and speaking out about the mania that is taking place with transgender issues. I think so much of this is peer pressure among our young people. Thank you

  2. Alan

    Thank you. A voice of reason amid a flood of deception, fear and political agendas.

  3. Charles Lewis

    I attended a talk recently by Dr Bernadette Wren to the Medico-legal Society. As I wrote to her afterwards, I was appalled to hear the nonsense she was espousing as laid down by the new transgender creed, talking about the new discoveries that showed gender was not merely male and female and so on. I asked her what was the intimidation that led her to betray her professional principles so . i got no response.

  4. Alan Henness

    Have you messed up the start? It starts mid-sentence!

  5. Joan Appleton

    I feel a sense of relief that at last there is a sense of the ground beginning to shift, shaking down the much needed fearless discussion on ‘gender’.
    Hopefully now, the sense of fear surrounding those of us who question the existence of gender dysphoria will go some way towards removing the element of toxcicity .
    This debate must keep opening up for the sake of avoiding damage to young and vulnerable people.

  6. Margaret

    That letter is excellent. You have said exactly what needs to be said. Those in positions of authority in the medical sector, like Tavistock, can not continue to ignore this ideology driven cult and it’s links to Big Pharma. Children are being unduly influenced by social media and television to believe there is something wrong with them that can only be fixed by surgical intervention, but at what cost. Sterility, pain, inability to achieve orgasm and/or feel sexual sensation are just some of the common results of these procedures when done to children who have been on blockers.

  7. Hope Liebersohn

    Stonewall and Mermaid have gone too far. The appalling ostracism and silencing of even the most reputable and responsible people must not go on – Martina Navratilova being the latest example, when she dared to voice an obvious and responsible of view of male-bodied people invading and ruining formerly women’s sports, by declaring that they were – by magic, through no legal or physical change, suddenly 100% women and entitled to enter and win formerly women’s-only sport competitions. These aggressive pressure groups have frightened MPs and convinced trade unions, local education authorities and others that their agenda should be adopted, and they are already “training” within the state school system, e.g. convincing Tayside schools that their toilets can all be unisex, creating upset and toilet refusal for adolescent girls who cannot feel comfortable with boys in what were their own toilet facilities.

    If doctors lead the way, that is the best chance there is that children are not damaged by being rushed into medical treatment before and until they really decide whether they are gay, or whether they are likely to have more choices if they wait until all their issues are clearer to them, before they commit themselves to lifelong hormone treatment or even surgery.

  8. emma

    Thank you. I dread to think how much more entrenched this trans ideology would be without the courage of women like you who have been so staunchly standing up for women and girls

  9. Janet Wright

    This needed saying; thank you for saying it all so clearly. Children’s medical and psychological treatment should not be influenced by political activists pushing their own very personal agenda.

  10. Debbie Hayton

    As a trans person I cannot disagree with any part of your letter. Society is conducting an uncontrolled experiment on these young people. Sterilisation, surgery and medication for life falls far short of the ideal.

  11. Charles Lewis

    Let us not forget another horrible current aspect of the gender lunacy, namely that this shambles of a government is proposing to teach ‘gender identities’ to our children. Can you imagine the poison they will pour into their ears? We are going to have to work hard to administer the antidote and to tell the children that what their teacher is telling them is, through no fault of the teacher perhaps, the nonsensical product of stupid, ignorant prejudiced people.

  12. Annette
    We are a slow developing species. Growth doesn’t stop until the early 20s. The pre frontal cortex of the brain, capable of balanced decision making, is not mature until 25. Young people rely on the amygdala, which relies on emotions, which are turbulent in youth anyway. No young person should be medically transitioned until they are mature.

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