Time to think

Tavistock scandal is scandal:

More than 1,000 children were referred for puberty blockers at an experimental gender clinic where concerns were ignored to preserve a “gold dust” NHS contract, a new book claims.

Former clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London, have detailed how some “incredibly complex” children were placed on medication after one face-to-face assessment, despite many having a variety of mental health or family background problems.

And the “medication” isn’t really medication, it’s more like tampering.

The claims come in Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by Hannah Barnes, which will be released this month.

Barnes, a BBC Newsnight journalist, spoke to dozens of clinicians who worked at Gids, governors at the trust and children and their parents who used the service.

Barnes reports that “The clinic accounted for almost 30 per cent of the Tavistock NHS Trust’s income by 2021 and staff said it resembled a “tech start-up” with regular trips to international conferences.” And with money rolling in, which doesn’t always nudge people to think “Wait maybe we’re doing the wrong thing here.”

In 2016, Susie Green, former head of the pro-trans charity Mermaids, emailed Dr Polly Carmichael, who was then the head of Gids, asking to cut the time children had to spend on puberty blockers before irreversible cross-sex hormones could be introduced.

What kind of “charity” is it that tries to interfere with medical decisions at medical institutions?

Staff raised concerns when, on behalf of families, Green requested children’s clinicians to be changed to someone believed to be more likely to prescribe hormones.

How was that any of her business? Why wasn’t she told to fuck all the way off?

After initially treating just a handful of patients each year, referrals to Gids increased dramatically. In 2009-10 it received 97. By 2019-20 it received 2,748 — a rise of more than 2,700 per cent.

Participle confusion there. Gids initially treated just a handful of patients each year, but then referrals increased dramatically. At any rate – if this were an actual biological infection, a dramatic increase would indicate biological contagion. Since it’s not, what does the dramatic increase seem to indicate? Could it be popularity? Social contagion as opposed to medical contagion?

Dr Anna Hutchinson, a senior clinical psychologist at Gids, said the service was soon “accepting everyone”. She said puberty blockers were supposed to be prescribed to children to give them “time to think” about whether they wanted to transition fully, but she realised that almost all went on to take cross-sex hormones, such as testosterone and oestrogen, which have irreversible consequences.

Plus it turns out that blockers don’t just allow time to think – they too have irreversible consequences.

There were also concerns that parents were pushing children into transitioning, in cases of fabricated or induced illness (FII), previously known as Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy.

In one case, he said, the child told him, “my mum wants this for me”, or “my mum wants the blocker more than I do”. He said there was sexual abuse and domestic violence in the family and he and a colleague agreed that they would not be putting the young person forward for puberty blockers. However, this decision was allegedly overruled by Carmichael.

On other occasions a change in clinician would be requested by Green, the Mermaids chief, Spiliadis said. “I remember thinking and talking to Paul [Jenkins, the Tavistock chief] and saying that this is really inappropriate — how come a person who’s the director, or the CEO of a charity, is entitled to request a change of clinicians on behalf of a family?”

Just what I was wondering.

Read on.

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