Aside from Brexit and coronavirus, there is another issue in the UK that is fueling public debate: the treatment of transsexuality in children and young people. The first shock came from the words of psychoanalyst Dr. Marcus Evans, who was on the board of Tavistock Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS), the only clinic in the UK health system dealing with gender change. The consultant quit his job after denouncing that doctors were subjected to censorship at the clinic when, for example, they voiced their concerns about the often hasty procedures that led to “inadequate clinical assessments” and “premature interventions” on young patients. Evans also revealed that many of his colleagues were facing “pressure from trans activists” who want to keep the issue secret.
Keira Bell’s story
The psychoanalyst’s indictment is now joined by the story of Keira Bell, a 23-year-old transgender who wants to be a woman again. In her teens, she had undergone intense hormonal and surgical treatments to change her gender. This decision was supposed to put an end to her gender dysphoria, the discrepancy between her biological sex and her “perceived sexual identity.” Bell says she began the treatment, including taking puberty blockers, after “about three sessions, each lasting an hour” at the Tavistock clinic. She explains that she had “no doubts” about wanting to be a boy at the time. “I wanted to start the clinical process as soon as possible; I was very tense and didn’t want to talk to anyone who might get in my way.” However, she has now regretted it and would love to undo it all. She believes the “psychological and cerebral effects of treatment are underestimated.”
For this reason, she has decided to show her face in public, tell the media about her painful experience, and sue the Tavistock Clinic. The suffering she is going through is summed up in the following statement: “I live in a world where I don’t fit in as either a man or a woman. I am stuck between the two sexes.” She also reports that the treatment caused her “symptoms typical of menopause, such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and loss of sexual desire.” She was even eventually prescribed calcium tablets because “my bones had become brittle.”
Her story is not an isolated case. According to reports in the British press, the stories are piling up of young people who change their gender and then regret it. A related organization was formed to bring them together: the Detransition Advocacy Network. “Hundreds of young adults” are turning to the organization, protesting that hormone treatment has not solved their problems. At the same time, the number of minors who turn to GIDS is increasing exponentially. In 2009, there were 77 children and adolescents. Ten years later, there are already 2590 referrals per year.
What has caused this increase? Ideology? Interest? Or just a greater awareness of gender dysphoria? One article in the Times and a reposted article in the Italian daily Avvenire tell a story of about 35 doctors resigning from GIDS in the last three years, much like Dr. Evans, in order to “(in many cases) resist pressure from activists of Mermaids, a trans-charity that promotes hormone blockers and hormone treatment and surgical procedures for underage transsexuals.” Furthermore, the Times journalist raises the question of “why Ferring Pharmaceuticals, the maker of [puberty blocker] triptorelin, has financially supported a clinical trial in the Netherlands, and also donated around £1.4 million since 2013 to the Liberal Democrats, the most vocal proponents of self-determination of one’s sex.”