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The head of England’s only NHS gender clinic has cut ties with some parents of transgender children after claiming they promote critical ‘transphobic’ views on gender, The Telegraph can reveal.
Whistleblowers have raised concerns about the approach to teens questioning gender at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, with former governor Dr David Bell calling it a ‘gateway to puberty blockers’.
Last month, Cass’s review of NHS gender identity services, led by one of the country’s top paediatricians, found some doctors felt “forced to take a hard-line approach”, a stance advocated by some trans lobby groups.
Referrals to the trust’s controversial Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) have soared during the pandemic, with a waiting list for children of around 5,500.
Now it has emerged that the Trust’s chief executive and chairman have told a group of parents they are “disappointed” with their critical views on gender – the idea that biological sex is binary and unchangeable – and have severed ties upon learning of this.
Bayswater Support Group, a group of 400 parents many of whom have children treated by the Tavistock, complained to the Trust last year about ‘defamatory’ comments made about them by a GIDS clinician, whom The Telegraph does not name , on a Facebook group for psychiatrists. They also filed another lawsuit last month following new comments alleging the group had “transphobic” ties.
In response, Paul Jenkins, chief executive of the Trust, dismissed the complaint following an investigation because the Trust discovered the clinician was commenting in a personal capacity.
Parents accused of “obvious imbalance”
However, in a formal letter to parents last May, Mr Jenkins added: “As part of the investigation, we were disappointed to see that all of the links on your site were to gender-sensitive sites. We were also very disappointed to see activity on social media that showed a clear lack of balance and moderation in the way issues were handled.
He said it was “considerable disappointment, therefore, to see this material which I fear will make it difficult for the service to work with you in the future”.
Bayswater, which denies any accusations of transphobia, has a website with links to mainstream organizations and advice for parents concerned about evidence-based gender care for children and the influence of ‘trans affirmative’ charities. » such as Mermaids and Stonewall.
The group’s surveys of its parents found that 50% of their children came out as gay before identifying as trans, and 80% had been bullied at school.
Campaigners argue it shows why the government is right to exclude trans issues from the ban on conversion therapy, to allow counselors to explore wider reasons for identity confusion.
The parents’ group pointed out in letters to the Trust that NHS England, which contracted the Tavistock to run gender identity services, requires it to “collaborate and engage with community groups who provide services to clients with gender dysphoria and their families/caregivers”. .
Prior to last year’s letters, the group had held meetings with the Trust to share their ideas.
When the parents complained to the Trust’s chairman, Professor Paul Burstow, he responded last June to say he ‘saw no reason to overturn his finding regarding the transphobic links on your website referred to in a private Facebook group. ”.
Prof Burstow said while he was open to engaging with ‘all parents’, the group was ‘not neutral’ and its website ‘makes it harder to have constructive dialogue’.
Concern about irreversible treatments
A mother, whose 16-year-old child has been on the Tavistock waiting list for two-and-a-half years, told the Telegraph: “I consented to my daughter’s referral to Tavistock because I trusted the NHS and I thought the clinic would take an exploratory approach.
“Now I fear that her self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria will lead to irreversible treatments that she may later regret.
“My daughter’s school introduced her to the concept of gender identity, but kept the contents of the lessons and presentations from activists secret. Then they changed his name and pronouns without our consent.
“If a teenage girl who was a lesbian is now a straight man, isn’t it true that she went to gay conversion therapy at school?”
The GIDS clinic in Tavistock was deemed ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission last January, but its staff have defended the support it provides to children in sexual distress.
A Bayswater Support Group spokesperson added: ‘We are surprised that an NHS clinic is refusing to engage with parents for ideological reasons, particularly when our concerns are evidence-based and reflect many of the issues raised in Cass Review’s recent interim statement.
“Why are the views of bands like Mermaids and Stonewall considered, but not ours?”
A spokesperson for the Trust said: ‘The Gender Identity Development Service works with each young person on a case-by-case basis, supporting them in exploring their gender identity development, with no expectations as to what which could be the result for a given individual. .
“The Trust opposes conversion therapy for gay and trans people and cannot work with groups affiliated with those seeking particular outcomes for these vulnerable young people.”