The spectre

At the Critic an anonymous psychiatrist writes:

When a child identifies as trans, the spectre of suicide is frequently raised by campaigners — sometimes in a highly manipulative and unethical form. A talk by philosopher Kathleen Stock at the Oxford Union in May was interrupted by an activist glueing her hands to the floor. She wore a T-shirt stating, “No more dead trans kids”. Parents are told that unless they immediately “socially transition” their child — i.e., refer to them as members of the opposite sex, and present them as such to everyone else — their child is highly likely to self-harm.

Perhaps the most egregious form this claim takes is that unless a child is swiftly medicalised, first with puberty-blockers and then cross-sex hormones to cause their body to develop towards the “right” sex, the risk of suicide is hugely elevated. This emotional blackmail is expressed in the activist catchphrase, “Better a live daughter than a dead son”. Susie Green, former chief executive of the trans lobby group Mermaids, has described medicalisation of gender-distressed young people as “literally lifesaving”.

Thus many parents hasten to say yes to hormones and surgery.

This hurried, medicalised approach is entirely at odds with what mental-health practitioners know about assessing and managing suicide risk. The majority of patients who are suicidal are depressed, anxious, psychotic or experiencing ongoing trauma such as bullying, domestic violence or abuse. They feel hopeless and ashamed. Patients try to “carry on as normal” and hide their despair from those around them. Frequently they avoid acknowledging, even to themselves, that they are having serious mental health problems.

It’s complicated difficult stuff, so the best people to deal with it are not ideology-addled nitwits on social media.

There is, thankfully, no evidence to support the idea that having a trans identification in itself leads to a higher risk of suicide. Being gender non-conforming can cause so-called “minority stress”, and people who identify as trans often suffer from mental-health conditions that are related to self-harm and suicidality. The website of the main NHS child gender clinic, GIDS, says that “suicidality in young people attending the GIDS is similar to that of young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services”.

However, a young person who hears repeatedly that they are at risk, if they are denied social transition, puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones, may come to believe this claim. 

But if the result is that they get to ruin their bodies in order to pretend to be the other sex then that’s a win, right?

Every child who experiences gender distress deserves high-quality, evidence-based care. They do not deserve to be treated as rhetorical devices by campaigners and politicians who wish to forward a political agenda. They seem to have lost sight of the harm they are doing to this very vulnerable group.

It’s for the greater good, which is creating more and more and more trans people.

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