Parents in Britain are concerned that National Health Service (NHS) therapists are validating child transgender claims too quickly. The issues stem from the new version of the “memorandum of understanding,” which prohibits staff from contradicting patients who believe they have been born the wrong sex.
Britain’s NHS has been seeing record numbers of children being referred for gender treatment: average of 50 a week. Tavistock Clinic, Britain’s gender identity development service for minors, shows a referral increase from 97 patients in 2009 to 2,000 patients between April 2016 and March 2017, with 1,400 of those patients being girls.
Parents of children questioning their gender have come together in a campaign group called Transgender Trend, started by Stephanie Arai-Davies. Many are afraid to speak out openly and risk being attacked by transgender activists and accused of being transphobic, but are worried that NHS is not looking out for the best interests of their children.
One of the biggest influences cited by parents is that of social media; they believe that the NHS therapists have not been taking account of peer pressure that occurs on the internet. On sites such as YouTube, tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, LGBT messaging is prevalent, showing the “coolness factor” of being transgender, covering topics such as chest binding, and how to get sex change aids. There are even darker messages that encourage teens to self-harm and threaten suicide if met with parental resistance.
I know she wants a referral to a gender clinic, but I have concerns that I want to talk about before any referral.
I’ve known my child for 15 years, and he only saw her for 40 minutes, yet he thinks he knows everything about her and is blindly accepting that she wants to be a boy.’
The mother said that her daughter, who was struggling with depression, had been strongly influenced by a gay friend, who bombarded her with Instagram messages, calling her an ugly girl and encouraging her to bind her breasts and take testosterone. The therapist dismissed the messages as jokes, and the family eventually stopped seeing him. However, the daughter took the therapist’s referral and started hormone therapy against her mother’s wishes.
Many parents also believe that NHS therapists are neglecting to address other mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, and how they contribute to each child’s condition.
Another mother said that the therapist working with them did not acknowledge her concerns about her 13-year-old daughter’s anxiety and messages she had been sent on social media- including a peer who had told her to drink bleach if her parents didn’t let her transition. Instead, the therapist insisted the parents address their daughter as “he” and allow her to bind her chest.
They just weren’t listening to the one person who knows their child best. I was saying, “I know her – you don’t.”
She ended up bringing her daughter to a private psychologist, who is helping address her other mental health issues, and now she rarely expresses the wish to be a boy.
The danger of the “memorandum of understanding” is that it essentially bans challenging a patient’s thoughts that they were born in the wrong sex. This hinders therapists from helping patients that are suffering from other mental health conditions, and could lead to patients undergoing sex changes that they later regret.
This policy in the UK is a prime example of why programs such as Safe Schools are not the best choice for our children here in Australia. It’s ok to say no- especially when it comes to protecting our children.