NHS hosts trans health conference over speakers’ ‘anti-trans’ links
An NHS psychiatrist conference on trans healthcare for young people was postponed at the last minute when whistleblowers pointed out that a number of panelists had apparent links to ‘extremist’ anti-trans ideologies .
The event – organized by staff at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital alongside the NHS Health Education England training body and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) – saw more than 100 trainee child and adolescent psychiatrists to hear panels on gender identity and gender dysphoria. , including “how to support young people who are questioning gender”.
A researcher told openDemocracy that the event was “captured by anti-trans ideologues.”
Health Education England decided to postpone the event a day before its scheduled date, after organizers received numerous complaints from trans rights advocates and NHS whistleblowers concerned about the composition of the panels. A spokesperson said: “We will oversee a review to ensure that the rescheduled training meets the needs of all involved, including the trainee program and the requirements for patient, carer and staff involvement. public.”
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In emails seen by openDemocracy, a whistleblower wrote to event organizers expressing concern that “people with a history of opposition to civil rights and medical treatment for trans people [had been selected] speak at an event for NHS clinicians”.
They warned, “There is no way this event can be a ‘safe environment’ for LGBTQ+ and especially trans attendees.
“My concern is that the event, as planned, promotes extremist ideologies and harmful practices such as conversion therapy.”
Links to conversion therapy
According to emails seen by openDemocracy, the proposed speakers’ program included people with close ties to anti-trans conversion therapy proponents who, among themselves:
- Publicly oppose protections for trans people under the UK government’s proposed ban on conversion therapy;
- Intervened in an Arizona court case last year to defend the state’s Medicaid ban on trans health care coverage;
- Arguing that gender-affirming support for trans youth is “abusive” – calling gender-affirming clinicians “new fundamentalists” who “give children permission to attack their bodies”, and comparing them to those who radicalize “lost children” and “drive them to become suicide bombers”.
Many of the speakers scheduled to address the trainees also promoted a widely disputed theory, stemming from a single 2018 study by Lisa Littman – who was scheduled to speak at the event – claiming that a child’s gender can being “led” by peer group pressure or the media. influence and that “social contagion” can cause a person to identify as trans.
Those who spoke about the original lineup included Ruth Pearce, a trans scholar at the University of Glasgow, who wrote to conference organizers at NELFT.
“The majority of people booked for the event had a history of extreme prejudice against trans people,” she told openDemocracy. “Many have openly opposed the banning of the cruel and harmful practice of conversion therapy.”
Links to anti-trans advocacy
Four of the scheduled panelists – Littman, Stella O’Malley, Sinéad Watson and Stephanie Davies-Arai – are advisers to Genspect, an international alliance of so-called “gender sensitive” parents, counsellors, educators and activists who “advocate for the parents of children and young people who are questioning gender”.
Genspect’s website boasts of working relationships with proponents of anti-trans conversion therapy, including Our Duty – a group that recommends talk therapies as a way to “quickly withdraw from transgender ideation.” , which “must be the stated goal of any treatment regimen” for young trans people.
Our Duty has advocated for an “immediate moratorium” on providing gender-affirming treatment to trans people under 25 and opposes the public provision of trans healthcare for all trans people, regardless of age. . (The organization denies being anti-trans, or a supporter of anti-trans conversion therapy. In a message to openDemocracy, Our Duty describes itself as “a teen protection organization, run by parents who want to protect their children of unnecessary medical harm”.)
Among other “achievements,” Genspect claims to have supported numerous legal complaints filed against gender-affirming clinicians and intervened on behalf of parents to ensure trans youth are not able to socially transition at school. without the support of their parents.