11 August 2022

The tide is turning, but legal action and speeches cannot undo the damage doing by trans ideologues


You probably aren’t being paranoid, the equalities evangelists in your workplace may actually be after you. That’s certainly the case if you’re an academic, to judge by a genuinely disturbing report that University and College Union (UCU) members plotted to compile a list of university staff suspected of holding gender-critical beliefs.

It’s not just universities: from primary school upwards, educational institutions have been transformed into ideological factories. Thankfully, the Government seems to now being doing something about it.

Yesterday, Attorney General Suella Braverman delivered a lecture at Policy Exchange in which she savaged the long march of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) industry through both the public and private sector. She took aim at EDI lobby groups for building ‘mighty citadels of grievance’ where equality laws are used to gag opponents.

Under the surface of this typical crowd-pleasing ‘political correctness gone mad’ speech was a vital, moral point. It is children who are the primary victims of trendy adult posturing about gender identity, and some will now grow up with its lessons literally carved into their bodies. And over recent years many adults with a duty to protect youngsters, to tell them the truth – that sex cannot be changed – have allowed themselves to become mouthpieces for the trans lobby. When we speak about that lobby, we’re not talking about people simply asking for the same rights that everyone enjoys, but a deeply political, intolerant and highly ideological movement that wants to foist its beliefs on the rest of us and brooks no criticism.

The impact of that movement is clear as day. Across the past decade there has been a surge in the numbers of children who identify as the opposite sex. Thousands of young people have been prescribed experimental puberty blocking drugs by NHS Gender Identity Services (GIDS). Typically, the children referred to GIDS will be among the most vulnerable in any classroom; they are those have who have suffered trauma, are autistic, or are trying to make sense of their nascent same-sex attraction.

Research suggests, provided they are not affirmed in their belief that they are the wrong sex, most of these confused youngsters come to accept their bodies. But the political notion of the ‘trans child’ has been allowed to overshadow this evidence. Trans lobby groups like Mermaids describe puberty blockers as ‘life-saving’, and claim that any delay in transition could result in suicide or self-harm. The adoption of this approach by clinicians has set confused children on a course to sterility and life-long medicalisation. Thankfully, the hold of trans lobby groups on the narrative is loosening: GIDS is set to close and The Times reports that the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust faces mass legal action from patients who say they were rushed into taking life-altering puberty blockers.

But the harm cannot be undone through court action or political speeches alone. Trans ideology is still deeply rooted within institutions, and the failings extend beyond education. One-sided training on gender has even crept into the policies and practices of leading children’s charities. In October 2020 Barnardo’s, NSPCC, National Children’s Bureau and the Children’s Society published a joint letter ahead of a court case which sought to bring GIDS’ actions into the light. In it they claimed preventing children from accessing puberty blocking drugs undermined their ‘agency’, putting them ‘at high risk of mental illness and emotional distress, potentially affecting their long-term future’. 

Now the facts are stacking up against them. Medical bodies across Europe have begun to urge caution about the use of medication to arrest sexual development. In the US the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently slapped warning on a puberty-blocking drug following reports of side-effects including brain swelling and blindness. And here in the UK a recent independent review into GIDS called the NHS service ‘not a safe nor viable option’ for children’. Despite this, no apology has been forthcoming from the children’s charities who put a trendy ideological view above medical science.

Others who nailed their rainbow flag to the mast include Girl Guides, who recently settled a case out of court following their decision to suspend gender-critical volunteers. Childline, which is run by the NSPCC, fired trainee therapist James Esses when he started a petition entitled ‘Safeguard evidence-based therapy for children struggling with gender dysphoria’. This was deemed ‘transphobic’ and Esses is taking legal action against his dismissal.

Weeding the trans lobby’s anti-scientific ideas out of children’s lives will take more than a political push; it will require a social reckoning, and perhaps some personal epiphanies. It must be tough for people working in youth charities and education – those who’ve always thought of themselves as ‘the good guys’ – to acknowledge the damage done by the spread of this pernicious ideology.

Those with long memories might recall the Jesuit saying ‘Give me a child till he is seven years old, and I will show you the man’. Looking at the censorious and gender-confused generation of new university graduates, it becomes harder to shake the suspicion that targeting children was always part of the plan.

Braverman’s speech might not prompt the truth and reconciliation that is now desperately needed; gender identity is now deeply routed in language, policy and popular culture. But if nothing else perhaps it will be remembered as a welcome moment of sanity in an age of madness.

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Jo Bartosch is a journalist campaigning for the rights of women and girls.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.