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Children

Press pause on Conversion Therapy Bill

We worry about children who are presenting with gender dysphoria

As professionals, parents and concerned adults, we urge the government not to rush through ill-judged legislation to ban so-called conversion therapy. Abusive and harmful practices are already illegal, but ambiguous language and weak definitions risk criminalising ethical exploratory therapy.

In particular, we worry about children who are presenting with gender dysphoria. Similar legislation in other countries has had a chilling effect on therapists, leaving vulnerable youngsters on a one-way path to irreversible medical interventions. We cannot make the same mistake in the UK. Increasing numbers of detransitioners — with their physical and emotional scars — show that children change their minds.

Hasty attempts to decouple gender identity from the bill will inevitably provoke hurriedly drafted amendments to put it straight back. But what is needed is an evidence base — as Dr Hilary Cass said in the recent interim report from her review of paediatric gender services. The government should pause for Cass’s final findings and proceed only when it is clear what is actually required.


This letter was first published by The Sunday Times on 10 April 2022: Press pause on Conversion Therapy Bill. It was signed by:

Debbie Hayton, teacher and transgender advocate
Dame Jenni Murray, broadcast journalist
Rosie Duffield MP
Maya Forstater, executive director, Sex Matters
Baroness Fox of Buckley, director, Academy of Ideas
Simon Fanshawe, author, broadcaster and diversity consultant
James Esses, co-founder, Thoughtful Therapists
Helen Joyce, director of advocacy, Sex Matters, and author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality
Dr David Bell, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst
Neale Hanvey MP
Sarah Vine QC
Jess de Wahls, artist
Professor Jo Phoenix, Reading University
Shahrar Ali, former deputy leader, Green Party
Allison Bailey, barrister
David John Barnsdale, activist
Jo Bartosch, journalist
Bayswater Support Group
Heather Binning, Women’s Rights Network
Melanie Bulia, ‘Our Duty’
Axa Carne
Malcolm Clark, TV producer
Jane Clarke, registered nurse
William Clouston, Party Leader, Social Democratic Party
Naomi Cunningham, Legal Feminist Collective, and Chair of Sex Matters
Martin Daubney, Deputy Leader of the Reclaim Party
Belinda de Lucy, commentator
Paola Diana, entrepreneur
Laura Dodsworth, writer
Kathleen Dooley
Simon Edge, novelist
Martin Eggleston, parent
Marcus Evans, psychoanalyst
Susan Evans, psychoanalytic psychotherapist
Jessica Fishburn, parent advocate
Laurence Fox, Leader of the Reclaim Party
Mary Garner, counsellor
Dr Az Hakeem, consultant psychiatrist and medical psychotherapist
Milli Hill, author
Dr Zoe Hollowood, Chair, Liberal Voice for Women
Jude Hunter, Genspect representative
Alison Jenner, Vice Chair, Liberal Voice for Women
Christina Jordan, former MEP
Dennis Noel Kavanagh, legal commentator
Aaron Kimberly, registered nurse
Richard Kirker, human rights campaigner
The Earl of Leicester
Juliet Line, mother
Graham Linehan, writer
Claire Lonergan, parent
Julia Mason, paediatrician
Lucy Masoud, barrister
Dr Julie Maxwell, community paediatrician
Maggie Mellon, founding member, Evidence Based Social Work Alliance
Harry Miller, ‘Fair Cop’
Professor Michele Moore
Baroness Morris of Yardley
Cheryl Lavinia Mulholland, psychotherapist
Simon Myerson QC
Stella O’Malley, psychotherapist, and founder of Genspect
Fionne Orlander
Terry Patterson, psychodynamic counsellor
Alexandra Phillips, GB News presenter
Timothy Pitt-Payne QC
Calvin Robinson, commentator
Nigel Scott, secretary, Liberal Voice for Women
Maggie Siviter, social worker, children’s safeguarding
Dr Jacci Stoyle, former prison teacher
Evelyn Strasburger, parent
Lachlan Stuart, policy manager
Anna Telford, parent
Dr Val Thomas, psychotherapist, writer and co-founder of Critical Therapy Antidote
Leonore Tiefer, retired NYS licensed clinical psychologist
Gawain Towler, political consultant
Lisa Townsend, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey
Iris Walker, Councillor for Westhill and District
Lord Wasserman
Sinéad Watson, Genspect advisor
James Wells, former MEP
Robert Withers, Jungian psychoanalyst
Miranda Yardley, accountant and human rights activist
Susan Zamecnik, registered nurse

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

3 replies on “Press pause on Conversion Therapy Bill”

These are very important points that Debbie has made. The way I have been arguing this point is like this:

With the exception of some people who find a purpose in being transgender (such as Debbie), the transgender life turns out to be an unhappy life for many. They exist in a never-never land between male and female, a life which has many complications. For that reason, children especially should be gently and lovingly encouraged to identify with their natural gender (their sex). They should be told that they do not have the right to select their gender for the adult yet to come; that changing genders is an adult decision, and so they must wait. They should also be made aware that they will live most of their lives as adults, so transitioning in the late teens will likely give them 50 years of being the gender they want to be. If the child is truly trans and really determined, let him wear dresses at home or be a tomboy, whatever makes him/her happy.

If my recommendations don’t suit you, Debbie, please let me know.

Liked by 1 person

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