Exclusive: an American doctor gives RT a powerful and moving account of how her daughter was encouraged to change sex by her school, and was wrongly told that the puberty blockers she could take were “safe and reversible.”
The JK Rowling furore this summer alerted the public to transgender ideology and the deleterious impact on women’s rights. But a legal case being heard in London this week exposes a scandal that is possibly even greater.
Keira Bell, now 23, is taking legal action against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs NHS England’s only gender identity clinic for children. More than 2,700 children, some as young as 10, were referred to the clinic last year – a twentyfold rise over the past decade.
Many, like Bell, are quickly put onto puberty blockers that can cause dangerous side effects. Bell, who now regrets taking the drugs as a teenager to try to become a boy, said this week: “There needs to be a stop to prescribing puberty blockers to children under 18.”
Bell, however, is just one of many girls across the world who have been misled into thinking that they can become boys, and that the process is safe and easy. With decisions driven by social media influencers and peer pressure, and encouraged by right-on teachers, parents have been left bewildered by the sudden change in their daughters and the catastrophic effect on their mental health – and, ultimately, their ability to have children of their own.
As Sheila Jeffreys, the feminist academic, has warned, “…the transgendering of children now is simply a form of eugenics,” which shares similarities with the forced sterilisation of homosexuals, criminals, the disabled, and people with mental health problems in the early 20th century.
RT this week talked to Jennifer, a physician in her 50s whose daughter, now 14, identified as transgender from the autumn of 2017 until the spring of 2020. Speaking from her hospital in Massachusetts, she explained with pride how her daughter had resisted gender stereotypes from an early age.
“She always wore T-shirts and shorts; she didn’t like to wear dresses and skirts after the age of six,” said Jennifer. “She was very active playing outdoors with cars and trucks, and dug holes. She wasn’t stereotypically masculine; she was just an ordinary androgynous kid. When she was seven, she had her hair cut short and some people mistook her for a boy. We thought that was cute and funny, just fine.”
But by the time her daughter was 11, very different messages were circulating at school. “Earnest progressive people were talking about gender identity and she started to apply that notion to herself.” Initially, the school kept the news from Jennifer. “It started in the fall, but I didn’t actually know about it until the spring [of 2018]. They told me that the school never tells the parents when the child wants to change their pronouns, because they don’t want them to be at risk.”
Jennifer was told only when permission was secured from her daughter. Initially supportive of her daughter’s new non-binary identity, she had no clue as to the implications, which extended far beyond they/them pronouns.
The pressure from school had been insidious. “They had a trans student and a non-binary teaching assistant. Because of the adult who also went by they/them, they had to have a pronoun circle every time a visitor came into the classroom. No wonder she wanted to choose something more interesting than she/her.
“I don’t think this would have happened without this intense focus on gender identity every single day.”
Alarm bells rang, however, when her daughter asked for puberty blockers. By then she was identifying as a boy and using he/him pronouns. She insisted that the drugs were safe and reversible, but Jennifer’s professional nous led her to investigate. “I had never heard of safe and reversible drugs that can stop you having puberty, so I looked it up and learned that Histrelin – the drug used in Massachusetts – shuts down your entire sex-hormone axis. It is used to treat metastatic hormone responsive cancers and also chemically castrate sex offenders. I thought that didn’t seem healthy. She was 12 years old.”
Jennifer had been trying to affirm her daughter’s transgender identity, “I even called the clinics to try and get her an appointment.” That never materialised. Cost was an issue, as “the prices I was finding were over $1,000 a month.” But it was a hyperbolic Tweet that broke the spell in Jennifer’s mind. She recalls, “That tweet was ridiculous, and it was from Planned Parenthood!”
Realising that something was very wrong, she applied the brakes, and spared her daughter the puberty blockers that Keira Bell now regrets. She did, however, buy her daughter a $25 breast binder, which became a treasured possession. “It was the most important thing in the world for a while. It was like a corset, a horrible piece of clothing that made it difficult for her to breathe but she would not give it up. When it was in the laundry, she would not leave the house.”
But Jennifer’s concerns were mounting, “Whenever she was thinking about being trans she got a completely different personality. Instead of being carefree, she was miserable. She shrank in on herself; she was scared to talk to people, and she didn’t want to go places in case she was misgendered. She got a haunted look on her face and told me that I didn’t understand her. It was like night and day – when she wasn’t thinking about gender, she was a normal kid.”
The contrast to Jennifer’s own childhood was staggering, “Where were all these trans kids who were not allowed to be their true selves when I was in school in the 1980s? There were no suicides in my high school. We have to question why this is suddenly happening.”
Jennifer, incidentally, is a pseudonym. Her story will be familiar to families across the world, but parents cannot speak out openly. Apart from the need to protect their children’s privacy, mothers like Jennifer fear for their livelihoods should their identities become known.
Another physician, Lisa Littman, was working as a public health consultant in nearby Rhode Island in 2018 when she published an observational study of the phenomenon that gripped Jennifer’s daughter: rapid onset gender dysphoria.
Littman told me that, “after my research article was published, some local clinicians wrote a letter to the leadership of the organization I was working with, and demanded that I be fired immediately from my consulting job.”
Despite the fact that her job was unconnected with gender dysphoria, Littman recalled how the leadership succumbed to pressure, “I was informed that they decided not to renew my contract for the next year because as an organization they needed to be neutral. They believed that renewing my contract would be taking my side, firing me immediately would be taking the letter-writers’ side, and that not renewing my contract would be the neutral option.”
Jennifer is wise to be cautious when delayed loss of livelihood is perceived to be neutral. She was also vindicated when her daughter desisted as the world was locking down earlier this year in response to Covid-19. The response to the pandemic removed her from day-to-day contact with other trans-identified children, and it also gave mother and child the space to have a frank conversation, initiated by Jennifer, that finally broke the transgender spell.
“I told her that a trans boy is not the same as a boy,” Jennifer explained. “They are significantly different. I talked to her about penises – she knew nothing – she had no idea that an artificial penis was nothing like the real thing, a miracle of hydraulics after millions of years of evolution. I explained that there is no way you can recreate that from a flap of skin on your arm, and you will never be fully functional, whatever you do.” It was the reality check that is absent from social media. She has not parted with her once-precious binder – she plans to keep it forever as a symbol of misspent youth – but she no longer wears it, because she no longer identifies as transgender. “She grieved for not being a boy, but the fantasy no longer captivated her. She is mentally healthier – more authentic in herself and less afraid of others’ perceptions.”
Jennifer’s powerful testimony speaks to parents everywhere, “Open up the lines of communication and ask your daughters what they feel. Listen to them, let them be mad at you and wait for the screaming and yelling to play itself out. Never suggest to them that they can change sex, but instead explain to them that it is your job to keep them safe while their brains are not yet fully developed.”
Parents like Jennifer have lived through the nightmare, and come out the other side with their children fully intact and – unlike Keira Bell – their future fertility unaffected. Detransitoner numbers are growing as people like them realise that their ill-informed decisions, often made at far too tender an age, are not what they truly want.
If we want to avoid more Keira Bells, politicians and policy makers need to listen to them, rather than to the transgender ideologues with their magical thinking.
Debbie Hayton is a high school teacher and trade union officer. She teaches science to 11-18 year-olds at a school in central England. As a transgender person, she has written extensively about what it means to be trans and how trans people can be included in society without compromising the rights of other vulnerable groups. Her work can be read in publications from across the political spectrum, where rational scientific debate is allowed and encouraged. Follow her on Twitter @DebbieHayton
* This article was first published by RT.com on 5 October 2020: ‘My 12yo daughter’s friends and teachers pushed her into wanting to be a boy… thank God lockdown allowed her to escape’