Comments from signatories

We have received many valuable comments from those who have signed the declaration and we will post 10 at a time, changing them regularly:

I am concerned also with accurate, timely and necessary record keeping and the distortion of important data needed for informed decisions about care, treatment and research which would be lost when records are not accurate, not followed up, not checked for rigour. 

On a personal level I was a (as we call it now) gender non-conforming girl and teen who cried every day about being a girl and who hated my breasts so much I fantasised about chopping them off. I remained uncomfortable in my early 20s but my extreme discomfort ceased round about the age of 15. I still occasionally hate my female body and keep myself slender to keep the size of my breasts down. In adulthood I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, ADHD and dyslexia which explains so much about my difficulties around feeling different to other girls. 

I have been, and to some extent still am, heavily involved in male-dominated extreme sports including mountain climbing but mostly love and appreciate being a woman and a mother. Even better is that I managed to work all of this out by myself through all sorts of mistakes, traumas, joys and explorations and I think other children should be supported to do this as well, but also have recourse to exploring gender-affirming care later, when they are old enough to understand the lifelong implications, and if they have not come to terms with their bodies and sexualities by then. 

I know I would have bullied, badgered and blackmailed to get to the gender clinic if I were a teen now. I was so headstrong could never say I was wrong, could never come down from a strongly-held position even when I knew I was wrong and as a result and may have had irreversible treatments before resolving my own issues. I know I would have been distraught later had this happened to me, and I’d damaged my body and/or found myself infertile at the point of wanting children. 

I have watched my gay (now adult) son go through almost the exact same dysphoric struggles as I went through. Like me, as an adult, some of those struggles remain but he is strong now in his identity as a man, albeit a very wonderful, gender-nonconforming one.” (Forensic specialist mental health nurse) 

I am concerned about the growing number of adolescents with social anxiety disorder turning to gender dysphoria as an explanation for why they feel awkward, self-conscious and different. I’m alarmed that my specialty and the greater profession of medicine seems to readily disregard what we know about child development to jump on the social-political bandwagon of gender identity theory. “Trans-kids” are a phenomenon of the past decade and a half due to social contagion and generational angst, whipped up by social media and fascinatingly prodded along by schools and radical doctors, therapists, and activists. The current trend in gender affirmative care is harmful and the panicked reports of risk for suicide dishonest.” (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist)

“I am horrified that we as GPs (in NZ) are being encouraged into medicalising children who are gender non-conforming and who make have other reasons for presenting as trans eg gay, h/o abuse, in care, mental health problems. We are sterilising these kids and taking away their sexual function. They can not consent to this. They do not have ability to understand the ramifications of this “affirming treatment”. It’s a scandal.” (General Practitioner)

“The belief system that underpins gender identity theory is harming children. It forces on developing minds the idea there is something magical inside them that gives them a gender. This is not true.

All the young people I have seen in clinical practice who define their identity in this way have serious attachment difficulties/emerging personality disorders, have experienced trauma (often sexual trauma), are on the autistic spectrum, or have profound difficulties accepting they are homosexual. 

Affirming their gender beliefs will prevent them from healing, from understanding their own minds/bodies, and may set them on a path of lifelong medicalisation and all the adverse affects that go with that.

You cannot change your sex, and allowing people to believe they can, is cruel.” (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist) 

“As a mental health nurse of over 25 years experience I am deeply concerned about the easy availability of hormones and surgery to young people without wider investigation of any other needs they may have. many young people wanting to transition I am aware of have an asd, and/or mental health needs eg survivor of serial abuse or other childhood trauma, needs which are often ignored or downplayed but which could be having an influence on their decisions. They are pushed too far too soon. Plus, as man I am disturbed by my female family members and friends having their right to all female spaces removed.” (RMN) 

“I am a psychotherapist who disgrees with gender identity ideology. I have found that the ‘affirmative’ model required by the Memorandum of Understanding has a chilling effect on controlling and prohibiting neutral, exploratory therapy which is the standard in every issue excepting gender identity concerns, even prior to a ban, and I am deeply concerned by the ideological takeover, by the extreme ‘trans lobby’, of my accrediting body which ascribes to the MOU2. I support the call for gender identity to be excluded from the upcoming legislation and I support all points of the declaration.” (Psychotherapist)

“I’m particularly concerned with the automatic affirmative model in schools by school staff, which may preclude any exploration by school based therapists to help a child think about their emotional distress as having to do with anything but gender. Right now school based therapists are often the first therapeutic input children have access to. School based Child therapists are unable to carry out their usual assessment processes, as the answer to all the child’s distress has already been ascribed to gender. Whilst gender dysphoria is very real for some children, others may be reaching for gender dysphoria as an explanation for their distress which may be due to other factors such as experiences of homophobia , trauma and the multitude of challenges that a changing teenage body and mind can present a child with. We need to protect child therapy in schools so that children receive appropriate interventions based on a thorough, considered assessment over time that takes account of concurrent developmental process which distinguishes child from adult therapy and from adult political ideology.“ (Psychotherapist)

“I’ve been in trouble at work for not subscribing to the Affirmation-model and defending the open exploratory approach. Vulnerable children, inc.over representation LAAC/ASD/girls/lesbian & gay youngsters et al, are being funnelled into irreversible damage and are denied access to open mind space in which to slow down, take a breath and explore.” (Trainee Psychological Therapist) 

“I am committed to evidence-based practice and there is a dearth of evidence in gender dysphoria treatment outcomes. Recents trends in CYP referrals to GIDS suggest social contagion effects and this needs to be researched. Health interventions and policy must be based on evidence, not ideology, which I fear has been the case. Gender is a difficult concept to assess quantitatively and as such poses challenges fir EBT – gender identity must not replace biological sex in health records- sex is a material reality which provides often essential information in health care settings. Much more stringent legal definition is required around terms such as gender identity and they must be distinguished from ( and not replace) biological sex.” (Child Psychologist)

“I suffered from gender- dysphoria as a child and teenager in the 60s and 70s. It was not recognised, or diagnosed. Instead, I was depressed, delusional, suicidal, dysfunctional at school, constantly bullied, became alcoholic, dropped out of school at 16, was labelled with ” Personality Disorder”, was sectioned to a psychiatric hospital at aged 16, for 6 months, then became a guest of her majesty for 3 years, all before the age of 20. I used the contraceptive pill to stop my menses, and wanted serious body modification, ( a jaw re-alignment) to stop me looking like the women in my abusive fathers family. I did have this surgery later, in my 30s. It was not allowed in my teens, because the dentists said my bones were still growing up until my mid 20s. The parallels with the girls this is happening to today are striking, except that I grew up before the internet or mobile phones. I did not go to higher education and battled with alcoholism all my life. I believe gender dysphoria to be a form of PTSD from abusive and dysfunctional childhoods, it certainly was in my case. If the modern pathway of puberty blockers-hormones-surgery had been available, I am sure I would have been put on it at a young age. Children from abusive childhoods need compassionate therapeutic care, not sterilisation.”(Politics Cartoonist and Civil Servant)