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Gething urged to change trans treatment policy for young people

16 Apr 2024 7 minute read
Dr Hilary Cass. Photo Yui Mok/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

A gender critical campaign group has called on First Minister Vaughan Gething to scrap the Welsh Government’s current policy that supports medical interventions for young people who believe they were born in the wrong body.

Instead, says the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Alliance (LGBA) Cymru, it should adopt the more cautious approach recommended by NHS England’s Cass Review.

The review, published last week following four years of research, concluded that the entirety of gender medicine for young people was “built on shaky foundations” and said too many had been given puberty blockers, which pause the physical changes of puberty such as breast development and facial hair growth.

Important implications

In a letter to Mr Gething dated April 15, the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Alliance Cymru said: “This report … has direct and important implications for Wales.

“Despite the fact that hundreds of young Welsh people have been referred to the Tavistock Clinic in London over the past decade, the report appears to have gone unnoticed by the Welsh Government. Your silence is astonishing. It seems that you do not even know how many children were involved, and NHS Wales does not know the outcomes of their experimental treatment.

“We hope that the publication of this major report sees the end of this major scandal which has been promoted so enthusiastically by the Welsh Government.”

The letter goes on to pose six questions:

* Will your Government accept the recommendations of the Cass Review in full and ensure Wales NHS and Welsh Gender Services participate as equal partners with NHS England in the follow-up review of adult services?

* Will you now ensure proper regulation of private providers of puberty blockers, as is promised in England?

* Will you ensure relevant Ministers, especially Health, Education, Social Partnerships and the Counsel General now meet with concerned [gender critical] groups, notably ourselves and Merched Cymru, along with Labour Women’s Declaration and Lesbian Labour, to look at these issues?

* Will you recognise that any increase in provision should be as part of a broader increase in services for young people’s health, especially their mental health, through proper funding of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across Wales – rather than simply increasing gender-related services which is likely to increase the funnelling of troubled youngsters into this model of care?

* Will you accept the [Welsh Government’s] LGBTQ+ Action Plan is fundamentally flawed? It is predicated on the now badly compromised model of “affirmation” and science-denial, so that relying on it to guide Welsh service provision is a bad mistake? Can relevant groups, especially LGB Alliance Cymru now be invited on to the Advisory Group, having been excluded and ghosted throughout the process to date?

* Do you realise the potential for lawsuits and damage to the reputation of the Welsh Government and the devolution settlement (see Scotland) from pursuing this agenda, including the self-ID smuggled into the Senedd Reform Bill? [a provision that would allow anyone to identify as a woman and stand for Senedd seats reserved for women]?

Review

The letter continues: “We have been pleased to see the Shadow Secretary for Health, Wes Streeting’s comments that he no longer believes the edict that ‘trans women are women’. We hope that in a proper review of these health services and of the LGBTQ+ Action Plan, you also come to accept the problems inherent in that mantra and take the opportunity to rethink your definitions.

“We, along with other grassroots campaigns concerned about these issues, have written to you and your predecessors several times over the last four years. We have asked repeatedly and politely for meetings, opportunities for briefings and to participate in consultation. We have been ignored and derided. The Cass Review shows us to have been correct.

“We emphatically reject the view that a girl who says she is a boy (or vice versa) must be affirmed in that belief. Dr Cass and her independent researchers found that most of those seeking ‘gender care’ are LGB teenagers, and in particular lesbians.

“The public perception is doubtless influenced by the fact that LGBTQ+ campaign groups, often endorsing ‘gender affirming care’ appear to have a disproportionate influence with your government.”

Unhappy

The Cass Review also concluded that most children who are unhappy with their sexed bodies later desist and a survey of detransitioners found that 23% gave homophobia or difficulty accepting themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual as a reason for transition and subsequent detransition.

The letter continues: “We know that once into the Gender Identity Development Service process a high proportion of youngsters are placed on hormones and that a very high percentage then proceed to cross-sex hormones and surgery. Many groups have tried to raise the alarm, agreeing with Cass that these treatments, especially puberty blockers, are poorly evidenced and experimental when given to children within the normal age range for puberty.

“While we do not know the figures for referrals to the Tavistock clinic, a 2022 FOI revealed 3959 referrals to the adult (17.5+) Welsh Gender Service from 2017 to 2022 of whom at least 281 had ‘top’ surgery … For those two years that’s a surgery rate of 27% at least (assuming only 50% of referrals to be female). ‘Top’ surgery is the euphemism enshrouding double mastectomies – the removal of healthy body parts.

“How is this to be considered ‘progressive’? Given the evidence exposed by Cass, some 89% of these young gender non-conforming girls would have grown up to lesbian or bisexual. These statistics reveal the needless mutilation of hundreds of young lesbian or bisexual women. How does that fit in with an LGBTQ+ Action Plan supposed to make Wales a “safe” place to be a lesbian or bisexual?

“We would like to see an immediate and comprehensive review of support to young people (up to the age of 25) when they present with this currently fashionable dysphoria, including the full consideration of co-morbidities and other issues. This requires a proper model and resources for CAMHS. At the same time, the new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum should be reviewed; teaching children that an ineffable ‘gendered soul’ can take priority over their physical sex is a programme rooted in profound and oppressive stereotypes.”

The letter concludes: “The Welsh Government has consistently ignored and barred many groups raising concerns, allowing Stonewall to tar us as transphobes and worse. We have been silenced and insulted while young members of our communities have found no safe place to assert their dignity and boundaries. This has failed our communities and undermines the Welsh Government’s claims to seek a rich, pluralist and welcoming civic society.

“A new First Minister and Cabinet offers you an opportunity to make a really positive change in Wales for the better by accepting Dr Cass’s recommendations, reviewing your current policies and opening up a genuine discussion with ourselves and other groups.”

Holistic

A Welsh Government spokesperson told Nation.Cymru: “The Cass Review aims to ensure children and young people who are questioning their gender identity or experiencing gender dysphoria, and require support from the NHS, receive a high standard of care that meets their needs and is safe, holistic and effective.

“We are committed to improving the Gender Identity Development pathway and the support available for young people in Wales, in line with the commitments in our LGBTQ+ plan.

“We will consider the review’s findings and continue to be driven by the evidence to support the needs of young people who are questioning their gender.”

The LGBTQ+ campaign group Stonewall has been asked to comment.


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Ali Morris
Ali Morris
1 month ago

Thank you Nation Cymru for finally covering this landmark report (Cass Review). Welsh Government has been pushing forward with this ideological stance for a long time now and burying its head in the sand even when the evidence was saying otherwise. WG has been silent on this issue which indicates to me that it will not admit that it is wrong. Thank god for groups such as LGBA Cymru who are advocating for the gay, lesbian and bisexual children who have been caught up in this scandal.

Jay
Jay
1 month ago

Brilliant work Nation Cymru. The LGB Alliance Cymru has been trying to expose the cruel damage being caused to so many young people in Wales. The Welsh Government has been totally captured by Stonewall. Under Stonewall guidance the Senedd has introduced the regressive LGBTQ+ Action Plan which is nothing more than a Trans rights manifesto. This was concocted by Stonewall devotees, other voices were ignored. The plan has been behind the schools RSE indoctrination program where children have compulsory education on an ideology (belief) that they could be born in the wrong body, and where scientific biological reality is denounced.… Read more »

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

Well said. I wrote to the previous Education Minister with some concerns about the ideology and especially the language being taught in the new RSE curriculum. He did not agree with me.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Agree the Senedd should go with the Cass report and change policy. We have no idea right now about the long term effects of puberty blocking drugs used on many children.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Agreed. Also schools should stop teaching children that gender is a ‘spectrum’. Seriously, this is what is being taught.

I advise all parents to ask their children’s schools to make available to them the resources used to teach RSE. Many parents are not aware that they have a right to see these.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mr Williams
Another Richard
Another Richard
1 month ago

LGB Alliance Cymru’s questions are what are technically known as “no-brainers”. Of course that does not guarantee that the Welsh Government will answer them correctly. The way that gender ideology, an incoherent series of claims as contrary to common sense as it is to established science, has insinuated itself in our institutions has been one of the most extraordinary events of my lifetime.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Government should have made more resources available to deal with mental health issues among young people. That could have avoided much of this controversy.

Alun
Alun
1 month ago

You can’t learn to drive until you’re 17 vote until you’re 16 but children are able to choose to take puberty blockers? It’s madness.

Cedwyn
Cedwyn
1 month ago

Always said the silver lining to the Labour leadership saga was that at least gender zealot Jeremy Miles lost. As minister for Education – Education!!! – he was happy for idiotic pronoun badges to be handed out at last year’s Urdd eisteddfod, to promote irrational & potentially harmful gender ideology to impressionable and possibly vulnerable children. I hope Neagle won’t repeat this irresponsible experiment this year. Welsh government need to start behaving like adults and seriously take on board the finding of the Cass review.

anon
anon
1 month ago

Thank goodness for the Cass Report. As LGBA Cymru says “This report … has direct and important implications for Wales”. Let’s hope Welsh Government comes to its senses, and listens to organisations other than Stonewall. Please take heed from Scotland where self ID failed and the public have shown that it’s not supporting this nonsense. To add to the list of concerned GC women’s and LGB groups, a few brave women within Plaid Cymru have formed Chwiorydd Plaid to push back against this harmful ideology. Let’s get them all round the table with Welsh Government and form a policy that… Read more »

max wallis
max wallis
1 month ago

Stonewall’s response to Cass is on their website – half a welcome, but they still believe in the category of LGBTQ+ children, rather than a neutral fluid “gender questioning” one.
More significant is Ruth Hunt’s interview in The Times on Saturday, being CEO of Stonewall from 2014 to 2019.
She played a pivotal role in promoting the unnecessary medicalisation of children in gender clinics. Yet, in the interview, she sought to blame the scandal on anyone but herself. “I trusted the experts’, she said. ‘And I think we all did that. And that is something we regret.”

blc
blc
1 month ago

All this time and space devoted to an anti-trans organisation and not a single quote, not even a sentence, from a transgender person or a transgender campaign group. Fun fact, by the way: the term “gender critical” was introduced because it’s more palatable than saying “transgender people do not exist and anyone who says they are transgender is either lying, subversive, mentally ill, or just plain wrong”. What many people lose sight of in “the trans debate” (there is no debate by the way, transgender people exist whether you want them to or not) is that you’re talking about your… Read more »

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