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Holyrood summit hears from teens, parents and experts who claim children are pressured into swapping genders

© Andrew CawleyA summit at Holyrood heard from teens, parents and experts.
A summit at Holyrood heard from teens, parents and experts.

A brave teenager left ­politicians in tears as she told how social workers persuaded her that she was “born in the wrong body” rather than treat her trauma over a horrific sexual assault when she was just five.

Despite never having ­spoken publicly about her escape from being sent down the nightmare medical transition route – which would have rendered her infertile and undergoing a double mastectomy – she begged MSPs to remove trans ideology from schools before others are harmed.

Just turned 17, Katherine told a special closed session at Holyrood, attended by MSPs, parents and childcare experts: “I didn’t even know what transgender meant until I was introduced to it at school when I was 10 or 11 years old.

“I was in care, and social workers told me as I reached puberty that my discomfort over my developing body was because I had been born in the wrong body. That I was a boy, not a girl.

“They did not talk about my abuse as a reason for my discomfort. They just ordered me tight chest binders and told me that, with hormone pills and surgery to change my body, I’d be happy.

“They never said a word about the life-threatening side effects of taking powerful drugs, or the awful physical effects of radical surgery, which would change me forever.

“They made is sound so easy – no wonder I believed them.”

Douglas Ross MSP at the meeting. © Andrew Cawley
Douglas Ross MSP at the meeting.

In the silence of Holyrood’s Smith Committee Room, the air stilled and several of those present wept as Katherine laid bare the horror of discovering the harsh reality of transitioning and the realisation that she had been lied to. She told politicians from the SNP, Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems: “What I’d been told wasn’t true. I was hours away from going down a road of medically transitioning, something that I finally discovered was irreversible and harmful.

“I was saved from making that awful mistake because I left care and returned to my mother, who allowed me space and time to find out who I was, free from the pressure of being told I was transgender.

“I hope politicians will do something to remove this harmful ideology from schools because far too many very vulnerable children like me are being pressured to believe the lies they are being told.

“Children like me feel alone. We don’t fit in and that makes us an easy target.”

Meghan Gallacher hosted the meeting. © Andrew Cawley
Meghan Gallacher hosted the meeting.

One mother told the ­meeting that she felt “devastated and betrayed” when a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services worker, supposed to act as a counsellor when her autistic daughter started cutting herself, reported the mum for child abuse because she refused to call her child a boy.

She said: “The pain of being accused of being a child abuser simply for trying to protect my very vulnerable and susceptible daughter left me broken.

“It has caused unimaginable damage and a breakdown in trust which I don’t know how to heal. I reached out for help for my daughter, who was cutting herself, because I was so concerned she would cause herself terrible harm. But, instead of getting that help, I was accused of child abuse. It was an unforgivable betrayal. My daughter was told she could change gender and socially transition and she did not need to tell us. She was told the school did not need to tell us.

“If we wanted her to change classes there would be a huge rigmarole we would have to go through, with all sorts of permissions needed. But she can have her gender changed and nobody needs to even contact her parents.”

The former head of ­education workforce development for the Scottish Social Services Council told MSPs that she has been writing to local authorities to ask what steps they will be taking to remove trans ideology, described as harmful in the Cass report. Mary Howden said: “Letter after letter claims they can do nothing to challenge this harmful ideology because they are waiting on guidance from the Scottish Government.

“Schools do not need to wait for government guidance. They can remove this stuff from classrooms tomorrow as there is no statutory requirement to teach it.”

Educational psychologist Carolyn Brown. © Andrew Cawley
Educational psychologist Carolyn Brown.

A deeply moved Scottish Conservative MSP, Stephen Kerr, said: “I left the meeting feeling upset and angry that this has been allowed to happen to so many vulnerable children and their families.”

Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader Meghan Gallacher said: “I was proud to host this event in the Scottish Parliament and hear directly from these families.

“Far too many families have been repeatedly – and badly – let down by gender care services in Scotland. I was struck by the bravery of those who attended when they were relaying their stories to me.

“We cannot see these grave mistakes ever repeated again. The SNP Government cannot keep dithering on implementing the recommendations of the Cass review in full.

“The wellbeing of our young people must be the top priority for ministers, who cannot leave young people feeling abandoned again.”

Alba’s Ash Regan MSP said: “For those of us who have examined in detail how gender ideology has been embraced in schools and across society, the Cass report’s conclusions and recommendations on the affirmation and promotion approaches of doctrines with no evidence were welcomed.

“The event in Parliament last week showed the incredible resilience of young people and their families in sharing their harrowing experiences to ensure lessons can be learned. It also demonstrated to legislators who attended the ripples of consequences for children, young people, and their families of dropping the pebble of ideology into settings where safeguarding was once the assumed foundation.

“Hearing the experiences of young people, their families and professionals who have spent careers supporting distressed children and young people was sobering, but this does not mean politicians can shy away. We all are responsible for listening in the round to evidence and experience and informing ourselves before we conclude the best way forward.

“Families whose lives have been in turmoil due to decision-makers’ lack of professional curiosity towards an ideology with no evidence must not be abandoned by the Government.

“They need to be assured that the Scottish Parliament can be a place where they have the power to be heard and their concerns addressed.”

Scottish Labour’s Carol Mochan said: “I think it is only right that the recommendations of the Cass review are implemented, that young people are respected throughout, and that the voice of parents is also heard and acted upon in relation to the future of their own children.”

Paediatrician ashamed at silence over ‘worst disaster in 100 years’

Dr Jennifer Cunningham. © Andrew Cawley
Dr Jennifer Cunningham.

A top paediatrician and autism expert revealed she is ashamed colleagues stayed silent, allowing “the worst medical disaster in a century” to harm children.

In an astonishingly stark statement, Dr Jennifer Cunningham told MSPs at Holyrood that she was aware many clinicians had not “stood up to be counted” over children being given puberty blockers or being harmed by trans ideologies in schools and social care.

She said: “It is deeply disappointing that only a few brave GPs spoke out about their concerns and the dangers while most of my colleagues remained silent, allowing the worst medical disaster in 100 years to harm so many children.

“I’m ashamed of that silence.

“If they had spoken out, I believe fewer children and families would have been harmed.

“They now have the Cass report available to them, and they must take their cue from that well-evidenced clinical report.”

Cunningham said: “People do not realise this medical scandal started on the basis of an extremely small study carried out by Dutch researchers looking at the effect of using puberty blockers on those who appeared to have gender dysphoria.

“That study and methods would not be deemed scientific today but, on the basis of it, gender care took off in the US. By the time it came to Scotland and the ideology was adopted by the NHS and expressed in schools, nobody even thought to question why there were suddenly lots more children saying they had gender dysphoria.

“Of course it made no sense.

“The major escalation was simply reflecting the increasing number of children being exposed to trans ideology.

Cunningham added: “The real evidence shows that nearly all children who express gender dysphoria will be reconciled with their own bodies once they go through puberty, and they mature.”