Facts so dangerous and beliefs so bizarre

Janice Turner on the closing down of the Tavistock Gender Identity clinic:

Writing on this topic, I’ve often encountered facts so dangerous and beliefs so bizarre, so beyond science or reason, it’s been hard to convey their existence.

Listen, you say, British doctors are prescribing a drug used to chemically castrate rapists to halt puberty in children as young as 11. The drug isn’t even approved for child gender dysphoria. It reduces growth and bone density, sterilises and kills future libido. And, get this, we don’t know what it does to teenagers’ developing brains, or even if it works and they become happy, fulfilled trans adults. Because there’s no data, no long-term research.

Well when you put it like that…

And not only is that happening; people who say it’s a bad idea are compared to or just outright labeled Nazis.

This week has revealed the power of sunlight when shone into dark places. There would be no Cass report if Keira Bell, who regretted her hasty transition when the gender identity development service (GIDS) at the Tavistock put her on blockers at 16 after just three appointments, hadn’t launched a judicial review. In the High Court, I heard incredulity in judges’ voices.

Several years of incredulity now.

I still struggle to grasp why GIDS abhors research. If it cared about dysphoric children wouldn’t it want the best outcomes? If it had faith in its medical pathway, surely it wouldn’t mind testing its efficacy? Isn’t free and open discussion among fellow professionals the best way to improve treatment?

Yet GIDS clinicians who worried that hormones were prescribed too quickly, or to kids who’d simply turn out gay, were vilified, accused of transphobia, forced to conduct any thoughtful, gently questioning therapy in secret. Whistleblowers such as Marcus and Susan Evans were discredited, internal reports such as Dr David Bell’s were suppressed, while staff were blocked from contacting Sonia Appleby, the GIDS head of safeguarding, about their concerns for vulnerable patients.

It sounds more like a cult than a medical clinic. But then it always has, hasn’t it – everything about it is more like a cult than anything else. It’s not like politics or social justice or lesbian and gay rights or science or medicine or psychology or anything along those lines – instead it’s like Aum Shinrikyo or Jonestown or witch-hunting cults. Secretive, doctrinaire, authoritarian, arbitrary…everything you don’t want in a putative medical clinic treating unhappy teenagers.

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