Gay, not trans
A powerful challenge to gender medicalisation enters the political mainstream
At a December 2023 hearing of the Women and Equalities Committee of the UK House of Commons, Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch agreed to write to the committee with evidence “that children likely to grow up to be gay (same-sex attracted) might be subjected to conversion practices on the basis of gender identity rather than their sexual orientation.” What follows is the relevant section of her letter—GCN
Both prospective and retrospective studies have found a link between gender non-conformity in childhood and someone later coming out as gay.
A young person and their family may notice that they are gender non-conforming earlier than they are aware of their developing sexual orientation. If gender non-conformity is misinterpreted as evidence of being transgender and a child is medically affirmed, the child may not have had a chance to identify, come to terms with or explore a same-sex orientation.
The strong link between same-sex attraction and a transgender identity has been discussed in the relevant academic literature for many years. The Dutch founders of medical gender transition for adolescents wrote in 1999 that (the language is their own)—
“Not all children with GID (Gender Identity Disorder) turn out to be transsexuals after puberty… Prospective studies of GID boys show that this phenomenon is more strongly related to later homosexuality than to later transsexualism. These findings are in accordance with retrospective studies that have shown that male and female homosexuals recall more cross-gendered behaviour in childhood than male and female heterosexuals.”
In 2012, one of the same authors also found a clear pattern emerging—
“Follow-up studies have demonstrated that only a small proportion of gender dysphoric children become transsexual at a later age, that a much larger proportion have a homosexual sexual orientation without any gender dysphoria.”
The most recent reported data from GIDS [the Tavistock youth gender clinic] in England demonstrates that older [adolescent] patients expressing a sexual orientation were overwhelmingly not heterosexual. [And] 67.7 per cent of adolescent female patients were recorded as being attracted to other females only, 21.1 per cent were bisexual, and only 8.5 per cent were listed as heterosexual. Among adolescent male patients, 42.3 per cent were attracted only to other males, 38 per cent were bisexual, and only 19.2 per cent said they were attracted only to females.
As I mentioned at the committee hearing, I am aware of troubling accounts that some clinicians are hesitant to work in gender identity services. I take this extremely seriously. As detailed in the interim report of the Cass Review, primary and secondary care staff have stated that they feel under pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach, which is at odds with the standard process of clinical assessment and diagnosis that they have been trained to undertake.
Dr Natasha Prescott, a former GIDS clinician reported in her exit interview from the Tavistock that “there is increasing concern that gender-affirmative therapy, if applied unthinkingly, is reparative therapy against gay individuals, i.e. by making them straight” and Dr Matt Bristow, a former GIDS clinician, reported to [journalist] Hannah Barnes that he came to feel that GIDS was performing “conversion therapy for gay kids.”
In a survey of 100 detransitioners, the experience of homophobia or difficulty accepting themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual was expressed by 23 per cent of respondents as a reason for transition and subsequent detransition. As German gender clinicians have noted: “it must be understood that early hormone therapy may interfere with the patient’s development as a homosexual. This may not be in the interest of patients who, as a result of hormone therapy, can no longer have the decisive experiences that enable them to establish a homosexual identity.”
Video: “We are seeing almost an epidemic of young gay children being told that they are trans and being put on a medical pathway”—Kemi Badenoch, December 2023
“The evidence is clear. The vast majority of young people being put onto irreversible medical pathways are attracted to their own sex. This is modern gay conversion therapy.”—LGB Alliance, 8 February 2024
Documents and commentary
Ms Badenoch’s complete letter. The Daily Telegraph’s news report. Writer Ben Appel on the “new homophobia”. Philosopher Holly Lawford-Smith on “transing the gay away”. Endocrinologist Roy Eappen on gender-affirming care and gay kids. Author Allan Stratton on “automatic trans affirmation” and children confused about same-sex attraction. Psychiatrist Alexander Korte on puberty blockers and sexual identity development.
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