Keira Bell’s victory is a win for common sense – but we must be vigilant of charities still promoting dangerous trans ideology
At last, doctors in the UK have been told they can no longer prescribe puberty-blocking hormones to children. For too long, transgender activists have exploited children’s developing bodies for their own political ends.
No more. In a landmark ruling yesterday, the High Court decreed that children under the age of 16 are ‘unlikely’ to be able to give informed consent to puberty-blocking drugs. Finally, the importance of safeguarding children has overridden the fashionable demands of the transgender lobby.
In a victory for common sense – and, more significantly, child protection – three judges ruled that children are not able to “understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers.” Of course they can’t. Despite being sold to children as easily ‘reversible,’ puberty blockers are powerful drugs that interfere with biological development.
While they have benefits in the treatment of prostate cancer and the management of uterine disorders such as endometriosis or fibroids, the long-term impact of this medication on healthy bodies is largely unknown and has been linked to problems with fertility and bone density.
High Court judges have now ruled that doctors need to consult the courts to secure authorisation before prescribing puberty blockers to a child. In response, an NHS spokesperson welcomed the ‘clarity’ the decision brought, while the Tavistock, the UK’s only gender identity clinic treating children, immediately suspended new referrals for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the under-16s.
This is all to be welcomed. But new-found ‘clarity’ must not lead us to forget the role the Tavistock, children’s charities, and campaigning groups like Stonewall and Mermaids played in promoting the dangerous idea that children can be born in the wrong body and that simple and straightforward medical procedures will ‘correct’ the mistakes of their biology. Too many young women, women like Keira Bell who brought the judicial review that led to yesterday’s High Court ruling, have had their healthy bodies mutilated at the behest of a fashionable ideology. We must not sweep under the carpet the fact that the very people paid to protect vulnerable children were the ones doing them harm.
Keira Bell first began ‘experiencing severe discomfort with her body’ as a 14-year-old. In an interview with Women’s Place UK, a campaign group established to challenge the government’s proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, Bell explains that she ‘hated the idea of growing into a woman and thought that maybe hating pink dresses and make up meant that she was not female.’
When she sought medical advice at the Tavistock clinic, doctors did not question the underlying problems she was experiencing, such as depression and low self-esteem, but instead agreed that she was indeed male and set her on the path to transition. Aged 16 and following only three appointments, Bell was prescribed puberty blockers. A year later, Bell was taking cross-sex hormones and had a double mastectomy when she was just 20.
Despite transitioning, Bell’s unhappiness did not go away. This led her to conclude that her problems never were caused by her body and in 2019, she began the difficult process of de-transitioning. It takes an incredible amount of bravery to admit to yourself, to friends and family, that you have made a mistake. As Bell said: ‘It was heartbreaking to realise I’d gone down the wrong path.’
For Bell, de-transitioning was far more than just a personal struggle. In pursuing a judicial review of the Tavistock, she took on the might of the medical establishment as well as powerful, influential and well-funded groups like Stonewall and Mermaids. She has demonstrated bravery most of us can barely imagine.
Keira Bell’s victory is something to be celebrated. Her determination and strength of character should make her a role model to young girls. But if we are to truly loosen the grip transgender ideology has on our society we need to go further.
We need to end the old-fashioned sexism that has made it acceptable to say that boys and girls who do not conform to gender stereotypes must have something wrong with them. A child can still be clinically diagnosed as suffering from gender dysphoria if they demonstrate traits such as: a strong preference for wearing clothes typical of the other gender; a strong preference for cross-gender roles in make-believe or fantasy play; a strong preference for toys, games or activities stereotypically used or engaged in by the other gender; or a strong preference for playmates of the other gender.
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Until this ‘diagnosis’ is rewritten, and psychologists and doctors stop medicalising normal childhood behaviours, there is always a risk that girls and boys will be encouraged to believe they have been born into the wrong body.
In some instances, sexism combines with homophobia. Children who would, without intervention, grow up to be gay or lesbian are instead offered ‘treatment’ to ‘correct’ their biology and make them heterosexual. I can only imagine that in decades to come we will look back upon this period with a deep sense of shame.
Sadly, transgender activists continue to have influence. In the hours since the High Court judgement was announced, Mermaids took to Twitter to argue it showed ‘the importance of centering trans voices in decisions being made about trans lives’ and the continued need ‘to support and uplift trans voices!’ Meanwhile, Susie Green, the CEO of Mermaids, appeared on the BBC arguing that the ruling represented a ‘devastating blow’ and that puberty blockers were ‘life saving’.
We should certainly celebrate the fact that perfectly healthy children will no longer be prescribed hormones. But we need to be vigilant. We still need to challenge the ridiculous notion that people can be born in the wrong body. Children should be loved for who they are, not for the person others wish them to be.
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