Dr David Bell

Dr David Bell, retired consultant psychiatrist, former staff governor and Tavistock GIDS whistleblower writes of his concerns about the conversion practices bill.

I have been involved in this issue since 2018  when Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) clinicians  came to see me as their  Staff Governor .  

They brought concerns about the  damage to children as result of the penetration of trans ideology into the service .They  were too frightened to see me in my room at  the Tavistock , emblematic of the climate of fear in organisations which have been ideologically captured. 

The extent of this  capture has been extraordinary and well planned. A prominent political journalist wrote: 

During a long Westminster career, I have never encountered a movement that has spread so swiftly and successfully, and has so fiercely rejected any challenge to its orthodoxy …………..The  transgender movement has advanced through Britain’s institutions with extraordinary speed. The only thing more extraordinary than the rapid spread of this new orthodoxy is how little scrutiny it has faced and the aggressive intolerance directed towards those who question it.   

James Kirkup

My report on GIDS was part of a chain of circumstances eventually leading to the Cass Review   – then   the NHS decision to close GIDS. Similar action has been taken in other countries such as Sweden and Finland.  

It is vital to distinguish between gender dysphoria and transgender . The former refers to childhood disturbance in relation to the sexed body, the latter is an umbrella term and is  easily  used to foreclose exploration  

Gender dysphoria is most commonly transient, as evidenced by the high proportion who desist, its socially contagious nature in teenage girl peer groups, and by the testimony of large numbers of detransitioners Its common comorbidities suggest that it is probably one contemporary means of expressing adolescent distress, alongside depression, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders, among young people with histories of childhood trauma and those on the autistic spectrum ). For these children, a therapeutic approach which is neutral and exploratory is essential, locating their gender dysphoria in the context of their personal histories, and recognising that it may be a temporary expression of their wider distress .    

Gender dysphoria is, then the manifest problem but the routes to it  multifarious.  

Here I would like to stress that all psychological disorders are very highly permeable to cultural context . The same kind of psychological  problems present in  different ways depending on context- many of the detransitioners I have spoken to had suffered  from anorexia/bulimia (although the GIDS clinicians had not made the obvious link to disturbance in raltion to their sexed bodies)  . There is evidence that as gender dysphoria rises, anorexia bulimia is falling.  

The associated conflicts  include –  

  • Internalised homophobia, –
  • confusions about sexual identity,
  • autism (35%) 
  • histories of trauma and abuse,
  • profound family problems –
  • and children who are just confused and lost in the world.

There is  understandable  confusion  as regards homosexuality -do  we need to be wary of the repeating the mistake of the past? . That history has been weaponised.  But  these situations are entirely distinct (see appendix).  

So there is  double damage- that which arises from putting the children rapidly on the pathway to irreversible damage and that  which arises from the fact that the  underlying  problems remain   unaddressed , as seen only through the lens of ‘being trans’  ( a point made by the Cass interim report)  

Apart from the massive  increase in yearly referral  (90- 3500) , there has been a reversal in natal sex – that is girls not boys now predominate (80%) ,  the reason are not understood but include the internalisation of misogyny – that is hatred of the sexual body (relatively common  in pubertal girls)  massively amplified by the   cultural context.  Many of these girls do not so much believe they are a boy,   it is more that they  seek to get out of  their  female body. Affirmation can easily collude with the  belief that the female body is disgusting and with the illusion that  that it can be exited. 

The normalised high levels of exposure to pornography has done, I believe considerable damage in contributing to girls negative self-perception .   

I attended a conference of de- transitioners , all women , in 2020 They were all gender non-conforming and all lesbian. It was a very disturbing experience.

One of the woman said:   ‘I speak for a generation of children who have been robbed of the capacity to have an imagination’- meaning the ordinary  imagining of being of the other sex  is not possible in this peculiar binary climate.  

Another said “I look in the mirror  and I do not see man , I see a mutilated woman.. that is now what I live with”   Here  I would like to draw attention to the bizarre Orwellian newspeak . ‘gender reassignment’,  ‘top surgery’.  

These terms serve to obscure the extent of the damage  being done to children and young people  –  irreversibly bodily damage brought about by puberty blockers and opposite sex hormones  and then surgery – double mastectomy, removal of  genital and pelvic organs and creating pseudo genitalia leaving them sterile and lifelong patients many facing  catastrophic complications.  

There is  understandable  confusion  -do  we need to be wary of the repeating the mistake of the past as  regard homosexuality? . That history has been weaponised.  But  these situations are entirely distinct which I can explain further.  

We  need to be clear that the issue here is not social justice but medical ethics – which  is why I called my paper ‘First do no harm’.



There is  understandable  confusion  – do  we need to be wary of the repeating the mistakes of the past as regards homosexuality?  That history has been weaponised.  But  these situations are entirely distinct   Many of us  campaigned in the sixties to put an end to medical conversion of gay men. The psychiatric and medical establishment, involved in this ,  were part of a whole context in which homosexuality was illegal. There is no  legal basis for any discrimination against trans people  who a re rightly free to express their gender and sexuality as they wish   The trans ideologists,  conversely,  are campaigning to support the medical and surgical  intervention in children and young people (intervention that interferes with their normal development). The Lesbian , Gay and Bisexual Alliance view this as conversion treatment – as many of these young people / are confused about their sexuality and if supported in a different way will desist from being trans and emerge  as gender non conforming gay and lesbian people