Yesterday Liz Truss MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, set out her priorities to the Women and Equalities Select Committee, including “three very important principles” regarding the Gender Recognition Act which will be put in place by the summer.
We are pleased to see that these priorities represent a commitment to balancing the rights of all: protecting adult trans rights while maintaining proper checks and balances in the system, maintaining women and girls’ rights to single-sex spaces and protecting children from irreversible medical harms.
We particularly welcome this statement:
“Finally, which is not a direct issue concerning the Gender Recognition Act, but is relevant, making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future. I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.”https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/minister-for-women-and-equalities-liz-truss-sets-out-priorities-to-women-and-equalities-select-committee
We are pleased to see the safety and welfare of children and young people prioritised, as it should be in all policy and legislation decisions taken by government.
There is a need to pause and take stock of developments in child and adolescent gender care, given the serious concerns expressed by clinicians last year about the harms being done to children in service of demands made by activists. We need to be cautious about giving children rights that take away their protections. If we do not exercise normal clinical standards of care mistakes will inevitably be made, with lifelong consequences for young people who are just starting out in life.
We are pleased that the Minister recognises the need to take into account the developmental stage of young people when assessing their ability to fully consent to serious and irreversible medical interventions. The unprecedented number of teenage girls transitioning has already resulted in an increase in the number of young women speaking out about their regret, including Keira Bell who has taken her case to the High Court.
We hope that the Minister for Women and Equalities will strengthen existing NHS child and adolescent mental health service provision and inject the funding necessary to ensure proper therapeutic pathways for all young people who struggle with gender dysphoria. Medical intervention should not be the first resort in the treatment of a young person’s psychological distress, which often goes hand-in-hand with underlying mental health problems or neurobiological conditions.
We also hope that the Minister for Women and Equalities will investigate the teaching of ‘gender identity’ in schools as part of the remit to protect children and young people. A self-ID system has been established in schools by means of the ‘affirmation’ approach towards children with gender dysphoria and policies based on identity in place of sex. We do not have such a system in society and it should not be used for children who are less able to critically appraise what they are being taught.
We would like to see an investigation into how this adult theoretical model of ‘gender’ has been allowed to be imposed on children through the education system. There is no evidence to support the ‘affirmation’ approach in schools. The protection of children must include protection from adult concepts presented to them as fact, before children have the developmental capacity to distinguish between reality and the strongly-held beliefs of well-meaning adults.
Overall we are pleased to see that the evidence presented to the GRA consultation from individuals, organisations and women’s groups appears to have been thoroughly considered and acknowledged and enough time and attention has been allowed for this important task. Implementation of policy affecting the health and welfare of children and young people is too important to rush and we are confident that the decision-making process has been well-informed and thought-through.
We thank Liz Truss for taking this important first step towards a more thoughtful and considered approach to both the balancing of rights in society and the protection of vulnerable children.