CAN-SG welcome this important intervention by Dr Hilary Cass and support her recommendations that gender questioning young people need a comprehensive patient and family centred service, run by experienced providers of tertiary paediatric care to ensure a focus on child health and development with strong links to mental health services. We support her view that the services should have established academic and education functions to ensure that ongoing research and training is embedded within the service delivery model.
We have been concerned for many years about the unforgiveable lack of data collected by GIDS, and the Tavistock’s refusal to take on board the many very serious concerns raised about the service (by many staff, Tavistock Governors, parents, judges who heard the judicial review, the Care Quality Commissions damning report).
GIDS is not unique and there are significant difficulties in challenging the practice of gender clinics around the world, frequently due to the ardent and extreme reactions of those within the services who adhere to gender identity theory. This is a belief system that requires us to believe we have an innate gender identity and that individuals should be able to have medical interventions (hormones and surgery) to try and make their bodies match this identity.
What we know about child and adolescent development is that their sense of gender identity is part of a complex inner sense of self that will flux and flow over this important developmental period. Medicalising young people on the basis of this theory is wrong, as there are a myriad of reasons why people feel dysphoria, disgust or cut off from their physical bodies, and each person suffering from such distress needs space and time to understand these feelings, and begin healing.
So, while we welcome this important step, we would strongly advise the government to look closely at materials that are being taught in school by Stonewall, Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence, and many other groups, who teach children gender identity theory as if it is fact. Until this is addressed young people will be at increased risk of interpreting their difficulties as proof they are ‘trans’.