QotD: “Puberty blockers exacerbated gender dysphoria. Yet the study has been used to justify rolling out this drug regime to several hundred children aged under 16.”
An Oxford University professor has accused the NHS’s only specialised clinic for transgender children of suppressing negative results while undertaking experimental treatment on adolescents.
Dr Michael Biggs, an associate professor at Oxford’s Department of Sociology claims the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) has been giving puberty blocking hormones to children, without robust evidence as to the long-term effects.
It comes after the governor of the clinic based in London with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust resigned last month in protest at its “blinkered” response to doctors who had raised the alarm about “woefully inadequate” care. There is also another centre in Leeds.
Declaring the trial a success, the clinic has continued to treat over a thousand children with the hormones but Dr Biggs’ research suggests that after a year of treatment “a significant increase” was found in patients who had been born female self-reporting to staff that they “deliberately try to hurt or kill myself”.
Parents also reported “a significant increase in behavioural and emotional problems” and a “significant decrease in physical wellbeing” in children born female, he claims. According to his research, there was no positive impact on “the experience of gender dysphoria”, the diagnosis given to those who are described as feeling intensely uncomfortable with their biological sex.
Parents did report their children suffering less “internalising behavioural problems”, however.
Dr Biggs said: “Puberty blockers exacerbated gender dysphoria. Yet the study has been used to justify rolling out this drug regime to several hundred children aged under 16.”
His findings are derived from a 2015 report to the directors of the Trust and an abstract from a presentation to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health in 2015 by Dr Polly Carmichael, the director of GIDS – based on the first 44 children to have been treated.
Full results of the trial remain unpublished.
In announcing the study in 2011, the Trust said treatment with the hormones – known as Gonadatropin-Releasing Hormone agonists or GnRHa – was reversible. Yet a Freedom of Information request to the NHS Health Research Authority showed the study’s own research protocol stated: “It is not clear what the long-term effects of early suppression may be on bone development, height, sex organ development and body shape and their reversibility if treatment is stopped during pubertal development”. In an interview with the Guardian in 2015, Dr Carmichael admitted: “Nothing is completely reversible.”
By acting on the pituitary gland, the drugs prevent the release of chemical signals which stimulate the production of estrogen and testosterone, halting the changes of puberty caused by these sex hormones.
In a four-year period, 61 children were recruited, with puberty blockers administered to 50 aged between 10 and 16. By 2017, 800 patients under the age of 18 had been enrolled on the trial, including 230 under 14, according to the professor’s research published on the website of Transgender Trend, an organisation that campaigns for policies regarding children who identify as transgender to be based on scientific and clinical evidence. According to the BBC, 300 prescriptions were issued last year.
Before 2010, the clinic prescribed blockers to over 16s only. But Dr Biggs claims the clinic’s caution was opposed by Mermaids, a charity that supports children who identify as trans and their families and the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), whose purpose is to improve the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people.
QotD: “The royal college for family doctors has scrapped a course it says is making its members uneasy”
The professional body for family doctors has dropped a course provided by a transgender activist charity because GPs felt it pushed them to guide patients towards gender reassignment.
The course on gender variance, which the Royal College of General Practitioners had hosted on its website since 2015, has been withdrawn.
The college’s decision represents a significant response by the medical establishment at a time of growing disquiet about the surging number of children who are transitioning.
Dr Jonathan Leach, honorary secretary, said the online module, developed and paid for by the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (Gires) “risked creating unrealistic expectations for patients regarding the role of the GP in initiating treatment”.
He added: “We understand that access to specialist gender reassignment services in the NHS is inadequate, and that this is incredibly frustrating for trans patients and their families.
“But GPs should not have to bear the brunt of poor access to specialist services by being put in a position where they are being asked to prescribe treatment that they are not trained to prescribe or monitor safely without expert support.”
Gires said it developed the course to help GPs assessing young trans people and adults. Gires paid the college £7,837 to host the course on its website.
But the two fell out after the college made changes to the course without informing Gires. The college objected to the charity Mermaids, which supports transgender children and their families, being recommended for referrals, saying: “Delete Mermaids from the list of people to use for support and just use Gires. Mermaids have become very controversial.”
QotD: “Maria Miller called me a fake feminist over gender self-ID. Now she says I was right all along”
One of the really, truly, enormously irritating things about writing on “women’s issues” is that people often think you’re talking a load of cobblers – because you’re a woman talking about women, so, duh, partisan – without looking into the subject at all. You get laughed at, called hysterical, accused of making a fuss about nothing.
Then, sometimes, the issue gets wider traction, or someone properly looks into it. And then they discover something incredible. Hang on, this is a big deal! Why didn’t anyone tell us?
I’m used to this happening from, say, lofty columnists who find it all very amusing that politicians go on Mumsnet and talk about their favourite biscuits. (Forgetting that they usually get grilled pretty hard about other issues too, and that “mothers” is a group that encompasses four out of five women by the end of their lives.) But really, I expected better from the chair of the bloody Women & Equalities Select Committee.
Maria Miller has today accused the government of “mishandling” its approach to transgender issues, saying that many trans people cannot access healthcare, which is a bigger issue than being able to self-define your gender. (Currently, the gender recognition certificate process involves two years living “in role” and a medical diagnosis of dysphoria, although it’s easier to just change your passport and other documents.) Service provision, she says, “seems to have been somewhat eclipsed by an announcement by the government on the Gender Recognition Act – that was one of our recommendations, but only one of 33”. Reform of the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 “was not the most pressing issue for trans people that we met as part of the inquiry”. She is now advising ministers to “focus in one getting their services right first and foremost, and also be clear that there is no threat to single-sex services, they are clearly protected in law”.
Well, now. This is a stunning rebuke to… Maria Miller of 2017, who said the only backlash to her report was from “individuals purporting to be feminists”.
As I wrote when the report was released, Miller dismissed feminist concerns “about the erosion of single-sex provision in, say, rape shelters as ‘extraordinary’ bigotry; the Tory dinosaurs weren’t getting upset about it, after all. An alternative explanation is that those dinosaurs don’t give a tuppenny toss about rape shelters either way”.
It is still shocking to me that Miller could be so little versed in feminism that she could sign off a report advising a change to the Equality Act, replacing “gender reassignment” with “gender identity” as a protected characteristic, without realising the profound public policy implications of that change. At a stroke, she advised changing our concept of gender from something that is partially socially constructed – how you are treated – to entirely a matter of internal essence. She entered the realm of metaphysics, asserting that everyone has a gender identity, something which no instrument can measure. That isn’t the kind of thing you can casually toss out in paragraph 4.108 and expect everyone to nod through, unless you have no idea what you’re proposing.
I will let Janice Turner have the last word here:
Consistently no-platforming people could have a chilling effect on free speech on university campuses and should not take place, according to government guidance.
While student unions are free to choose whether or not to invite individual speakers, placing blanket bans on groups that hold a particular political view is likely to breach English and Welsh free speech laws, according to the guidance released on Saturday.
“Free speech is a value integral to the independence and innovation that embodies the higher education sector in the UK, fuelling academic thought and challenging injustice,” said the universities minister, Chris Skidmore.
The release of the guidance, which was drawn up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), with help from the National Union of Students, the Home Office and a host of other bodies, comes amid a growing debate over free speech on campuses.
While it makes clear that a student union choosing not to invite a speaker because of their views is permissible, it says they should not ban such people from using their facilities altogether. And universities must not allow student complaints to censor course content. Exceptions are made for speech that breaks the law, including stirring up racial or religious hatred.
It reads: “Any decision about speakers and events should seek to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression.”
The guidance makes clear that people have the right to protest against speakers within the law. But it adds: “Protest should not be allowed to shut down debate or infringe the rights of others.”
“Monuments across Wales and the UK have been dressed up as part of a new campaign against the erosion of women’s rights”
Monuments across Wales and the UK have been dressed up as part of a new campaign against the “erosion of women’s rights”.
The early morning rush hour crowd were surprised yesterday morning (Monday, January 29) as they came face-to-face with female statues dressed in black t-shirts or draped in banners emblazoned with “woman. Noun. Adult human female.”.
In the past 24 hours, South East Wales Resisters, known as SeWReSisters, alongside ReSisters United, have carried out a campaign across the UK using the hashtag #WomenStandUp. Statues of women all over the country are now dressed in similar attire.
The sculptures in the heart of Newport commemorate the Chartist rebellion.
SeWReSisters claim: “It is fitting that SeWReSisters honour this working-class movement which fought for the rights of the common people.”
ReSisters United, has co-ordinated this campaign across England, Wales and Scotland, to kick off a global week of feminist action called to protest what it claims is “the censoring of women on Facebook and Twitter and the gradual erosion of women’s rights”.
A spokeswoman for ReSisters United commented: “In today’s climate of hyper political correctness, the factual definition of woman has become taboo.
“The dignity, privacy and safety of women is at risk.
“With this action we send the message that women have the right to speak about our biology without shame, fear or retribution”.
“We’d say that we are not positioning ourselves against trans issues, we are standing up for the rights of women and girls.
“We’re not anti-trans, we are pro-women.”
ReSisters United proclaim that they are “committed to speaking out to protect the right to sex-segregated spaces, without the presence of men”.
Lunapads is a company I would like to be able to support, and to recommend to other women, but I am appalled by your recent behaviour on social media.
Calling women and girls ‘menstruators’ ‘bleeders’ and ‘womb-owners’ is dehumanising and degrading. Putting ‘content warnings’ for ‘gendered language’ (whatever that actually means) on articles about women and girls is turning femaleness into a taboo subject – the tweet (from November 2018) that upset me the most was about Girl Scouts on the International Day of the Girl Child, about “girls lifting up other girls”, apparently that article needed a ‘content warning’.
In a tweet (from September 2018) about ‘patriarchy-free periods’ you talked about ‘all bodies’ being ‘covered’. ‘All bodies’ do not menstruate, only female ones. Obfuscating female biology is not progressive, it’s reactionary, and you do women and girls no favours by making them feel like bigots for talking about their female anatomy.
It’s great that you make ‘gender neutral’ products (but does a woman have to identify as trans or ‘non-binary’ to be allowed to use them?), but if you want to be inclusive, why not just say ‘women and trans men’? It seems obvious to me that this has very little to do with including trans men, and everything to do with pandering to trans women by not using the word ‘woman’ in any context that naturally excludes them.
That this is pandering becomes even more obvious when looking at a photo you posted on Instagram (in December 2018) of a card with a picture of a toilet and the text “Feeling confused or maybe a little upset? Don’t worry! My gender has nothing to do with you and I am supposed to be here.”
Dismissing women’s reasonable concerns about safety in public toilets (and changing rooms, and locked hospital wards, and homeless shelters, and prisons, and overnight accommodation for school trips) as ‘confusion’ or ‘being upset’ is patronising, condescending, and arrogant; the card may as well have said ‘don’t worry your silly little head about it sweetie!’
Do you care about the safety of women and girls at all? You must be aware of the case in Canada of Jessica/Christopher Hambrook, a paedophile and serial sex offender, who assaulted two women while living at a women’s shelter in 2012. Do you think it’s a good idea to tell women and girls to ignore their instincts when they are in close proximity to a potentially dangerous male?
What exactly do you hope to achieve with this mindless virtue signalling? Are there really that many trans men to buy your products? Trans women have male bodies, they do not have uteruses, they will never menstruate, and your products will never have the same fetishistic attraction as scavenging for used tampons and towels from the bins in public toilets.
Have you noticed an improvement in sales? Is alienating your core demographic really a good business strategy?
How do you justify advocating body positivity and self-acceptance on the one hand, but on the other, promoting an ideology that says some women are born in the ‘wrong body’ and that those ‘wrong bodies’ need extreme medical intervention in the form of radical surgery and a life-long dependence on synthetic hormones? What message do you think you are giving to girls who are going through puberty, and all the natural difficulties that major life-change involves, when you put up aesthetic photos of mastectomy scars on your Instagram account?
But what really tipped me over the edge and got me writing this letter to you was a re-tweet (in December 2018) about ‘SWERFs’. ‘SWERF’, like ‘TERF’ is a thought-terminating cliché, designed to shut down debate and critical thinking. Are you aware that many of the women fighting the sex industry, like Rachel Moran and Fiona Broadfoot, have direct, personal experience of being commercially sexually exploited while minors? Are you aware that SPACE International (Survivors of Prostitution Abuse Calling for Enlightenment) have organised a conference in London for this February called Women of Colour Against the Sex Trade? Will you be listening to these women too?
I also found a 2016 post of yours on Instagram where you discuss a potential project with Buck Angel, a trans porn performer. Is collaborating with the sex industry part of your ongoing business strategy? What kind of message do you think you are giving to young women and girls by helping to normalise the sex industry?
Your Pads4Girls program (where you again refer to girls as ‘menstruators’) is designed specifically to help keep Global South girls in school and out of poverty. One of the undeniable purposes of keeping girls in school and out of poverty is to help keep them out of the sex trade, or situations where they need to get an older ‘boyfriend’ who can buy them basic essentials like sanitary towels. What impact do you think the normalisation of the sex industry as ‘just work’ has on the life chances of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women and girls?
I look forward to hearing back from you,
Lunapads can be contacted via email@example.com. Screen-caps, of everything described above, in the comments
As she turns 80, Germaine Greer reflects on her career as a Shakespeare academic, public intellectual, feminist and provocateur.
Germaine Greer discusses her passion for Shakespeare and how reading his comedies influenced her thinking for The Female Eunuch; her work championing the work of female writers and painters; how much things have really changed for women; and she shares her thoughts on censorship and pornography and why being outspoken is the best way to provoke change.
So, as many of you are aware, the high-priestess of genderology [Judith Butler] decided to momentarily descend from her exalted academic plinth and relay her ‘thoughts’ on the ongoing internecine shitshow that she, probably more than anyone else, has helped to create. Except of course that, with her usual intellectual integrity, the thoughts she decided to relay about said shitshow totally ignored what is really going on, in favour of pretending that this is a conflict between the wibbly-wobbly-gender-and-sex-is-fluid-rah-rah-liberation crowd, and, basically, um, the Pope. Despite being entirely predictable, this level of disingenuous erasure, is, nonetheless, pretty staggering. As Judy is actually more than well aware, this is a conflict which turns, fundamentally, on the fault-line in feminism that she, in fact, inaugurated – a fault-line between those of us who think patriarchy is a system of sex-based male dominance enacted through cultural mechanisms which we could call – if we can still stomach the word – ‘gender,’ and those who think that patriarchy is…like, seriously, what the fuck do they even think it is….some kind of free-floating cultural system that has nothing to do with actual bodies or their appropriation and domination, a randomly generated set of signs and signifying practices that shape our subjectivity, a thought which leads, in practice, to staking feminism’s whole liberation project on the epic transcendent power of some spectacularly superficial idea of gender-fucking.
Look, I’m a feminist, and a Prince-fan. I like superficial gender-fucking as much as the next woman. (I actually think Prince’s gender-fucking wasn’t merely superficial, but that’s another story). BUT, and this in some sense points towards the heart of the problem here, superficial gender-fucking has fuck all effect on the fundamental patterns of male dominance. As someone said to me yesterday on Twitter, the wires are currently full of male people running around stanning for the absolute progressive power of gender fluidity, who seem to think they are the living breathing instantiation of ‘smash the patriarchy’ because they dare to pair some nail-varnish with their beards, all while acting like exactly the same entitled, narcissistic, dependency-denying, mind-over-matter, female-erasing assholes that they always were. If gender isn’t just a penchant for gold lamé pocketbooks and lace and is actually something to do with the psychic, material, ontological and economic structures which underpin male dominance, then, lo, it turns out you still need an analysis of male dominance if you’re going to actually do a bloody thing about it. And I’m sorry Judy, I know you were traumatized by Dworkin and MacKinnon trying to ban porn, but having an analysis of male dominance doesn’t actually make me, y’know, the fucking Pope.
This week there’s a conference going on at Brighton University, in which a load of ‘critical thinkers’ will sit around and think very critically. Judith Butler is doing the star turn. I was supposed to go with a friend, and put on my polite academic face, and listen while she is lauded by room full of people, many of them male, who cannot get over how fucking psyched they are that ‘feminism’ no longer asks them to even acknowledge, let alone challenge, male dominance. I cannot and will not do it. At this moment the thought makes me rage. And so what I want to do, instead, is to sit here, and try and channel my rage into a (partial) excavation of how, and why, Judith Butler performed the magical and much-rewarded feat of making patriarchy – and the critique of patriarchy – vanish from feminism.