Sajid Javid spoke some sense earlier this week when he said that the word ‘woman’ should not be removed from NHS ovarian cancer guidance. The Health Secretary was responding to the revelations that the NHS website had been stripping the word ‘woman’ from its advice pages. But fine words are only a start. The Health Secretary needs to get a grip on an NHS website that seems in thrall to magical thinking on sex and gender.
For saying that teachers shouldn’t pander to trans pupils, Suella Braverman has found herself in hot water. The Attorney General suggested in an interview with the Times that male pupils should not be able to use girls’ toilets, and that single-sex schools can indeed restrict admission to children of just one sex. These are hardly revolutionary ideas, but they appear to have upset the National Education Union.
The ugly nature of the transgender debate – and the viciousness of those who seek to silence others who disagree with them – has arrived in the playground. At a private girls’ school, a sixth form student was surrounded by a mob of dozens of fellow pupils who spat and screamed at her. Her ‘crime’? Questioning a visiting politician’s views about trans rights during a debate and making the point that ‘sex exists’. That girl has now left school and is studying at home. Schools should be places where children can develop their own ideas and debate them. So what has gone so badly wrong?
Mermaids is one of Britain’s most controversial trans charities, yet its overarching aim is hard to fault. The organisation says it wants ‘to create a world where gender diverse children and young people can be themselves and thrive’. To that end, its goal is ‘to relieve the mental and emotional stress’ of transgender kids. Unfortunately that laudable objective is hard to square with what it tells vulnerable children who identify as transgender.
Sajid Javid is right to worry about the way the NHS has treated children who identify as transgender. The Health Secretary is reported to be preparing an urgent inquiry into the issue, and planning an overhaul of how the health service treats young people 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.
‘I think I might be transgender!’ How should schools react to such revelations? By the time they find out, the child may already be convinced that their identity lies on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Probably with its own multi-coloured flag.