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Experts demand end to prescribing puberty blockers to young children

Annie says her 13-year-old daughter’s school refuse to listen to her concerns.
Annie says her 13-year-old daughter’s school refuse to listen to her concerns.

Experts and parents are demanding an end to prescribing puberty blockers to children as young as nine, and the removal of “harmful” ideologies in schools and nurseries aimed at children as young as three.

They want clear guidance from the Scottish Government in the wake of the watershed Cass report, which laid bare the scandal of irreversible harm done to thousands of children in England given puberty blockers and exposed to ideologies that “normalise” transitioning.

The publication last week of the 400-page report by world-renowned paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass lifted the lid on how England’s controversial Tavistock Clinic, which prescribed puberty blockers to children as young as three, ignored evidence that 97.5% of “trans children” also had autism, depression, anxiety, eating disorders or had ­suffered sexual abuse.

The Cass Review. © Yui Mok/PA Wire
The Cass Review.

Cass, who met with the Scottish Government, made 23 recommendations to keep children safe, including ending access to puberty blockers, and stating that social transitioning – telling a child it is OK to change gender and pronouns – is not a neutral act and can have harmful consequences.

Carolyn Brown, retired depute principal educational psychologist for Fife Council, said: “The same harmful ideologies identified in the Cass report have been happening across Scotland for years now as senior officials in health, education and social work failed to listen to concerned voices and adopted the ‘Three Wise Monkeys’ attitude while vulnerable children were harmed.

“Schools should be providing an ­environment that supports and facilitates children’s resilience in learning and emotional wellbeing. Parents and carers should be able to feel secure in the knowledge that, when their child attends school, they are safe, both physically and psychologically.

“Many children going through puberty do question their gender, their identity and their bodies. That’s just part of growing up. The danger comes when officials affirm those questionings and tell a child they can change gender. This is ethically and morally irresponsible as well as psychologically harmful and more likely to compound the mental health issues the child already has and reinforce the child’s self-perception that he/she really is trans.”

Her views are echoed by Mary Howden, former head of education and workforce development at the Scottish Social Services Council, who said: “Children are being socially transitioned at school without their parent’s knowledge or permission, and trans ideology is even found in nurseries and primary schools where we’ve been teaching our children they can be born in the wrong body.

“There is no child development theory that supports a child can be trans, despite the educational material given to them in Scottish schools. This material is being given to children inappropriate for their age and development, and it also leads to the breakdown of safeguarding barriers.

“There is also no child development ­theory that supports the idea of children being born in the wrong body. Gender ideology is something that has been constructed by adults.

“The Scottish Government needs to ­withdraw its transgender guidance and review school materials to ensure they are age-appropriate, as they are clearly not.”

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher has repeatedly called for the Scottish Government to commission its own version of the Cass report. She said: “My call for action fell on deaf ears. It’s extremely disappointing the SNP government is so reluctant to explain or defend its position.

“Ministers mistakenly rushed into ­significant gender reforms, ignoring the wellbeing of children, and have continued to allow the use of puberty blockers, despite a concerning lack of evidence around their efficacy. Ministers must heed the recommendations of the Cass Review and, in the meantime at the very least, immediately pause the use of puberty blockers.”

Dr Hilary Cass. © Yui Mok/PA Wire
Dr Hilary Cass.

Alba’s Ash Regan said: “Dr Cass’s report supports the concerns I’ve raised on the continued prescription of puberty blockers to children in Scotland based on the ‘affirmative care’ model promoted by the now-discredited World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

“For the Scottish NHS, this is an unfolding scandal on a par with the contaminated blood scandal, but it goes way beyond the health service.”

The Scottish Government said: “The Cass review’s final report will be closely considered by us and Health Boards, in the context of how such healthcare can be best delivered in Scotland.

“The Supporting Transgender Young People in Schools guidance does not recommend pupils are encouraged to socially transition. The guidance is clear that schools should support all young people, including those considering their identity.”

Stonewall, which campaigns for the rights of LGBT+ people, declined to comment.

My daughter used to be so happy. Now I weep and fear for her

A Glasgow mum – we will call her Annie – was stunned when she called her 13-year-old daughter’s school for support while the autistic teen struggled with puberty and questioned her gender.

She said: “I made the call which would change our lives forever, only to find that as soon as I mentioned my daughter was questioning her gender, her name and pronouns were being changed to a boy’s.

“I did not know it then, but that was the moment our world shattered and turned into a crazy, surreal universe where nobody would listen to me as a concerned mother.

“Instead, they agreed with everything my child demanded, despite the potential life-long harm that could result.

“I’ve spent the last four years battling to save my daughter from an uncertain future while everyone, school, doctors and counsellors, tell her she is now a boy and affirm the dangerous social transitioning the Cass Report has warned about.

“Like so many other children in this situation, my daughter is autistic.

“All teenagers struggle with puberty, but add autism to the mix and it makes everything feel much more confusing.

“Instead of questioning my daughter’s decision to suddenly become a boy and support her to come through her struggles, the professionals immediately accepted she should change gender, and that was that!

“I feel like I’m stuck on a crazy roundabout and can’t find a way off.

“Parents everywhere need to know what is happening so this does not happen to them too.”

Annie, who has never spoken before about the torment she is going through, said: “It’s been a terrifying experience, seeing the extreme changes my daughter has gone through. She was a happy little girl, loved getting dressed like a princess, and was very creative and clever.

“But things changed from the age of 12. I keep looking at the pictures of her as that happy little girl and look at the tortured teenager she is now, and I weep and fear for her.

“I don’t want my little girl having to take powerful medications for the rest of her life. She’s too young to understand what is at stake here.

“She was barely a teenager when she started binding her breasts up, and who knows what damage that has done. I discovered these are sent free from all sorts of websites. She started dressing as a boy and using a deep voice when she was outside our home.

“The whole trans ideology is everywhere within the school curriculum, in books and lessons. It is impossible to escape its influence, everywhere you turn, the school, teachers, all the support services, they just affirm that she’s now a boy without hesitation.

“I discovered schools are asking children what gender they are and what pronouns they want to use. That is normalising the delusion that they can change who they want to be. Children believe it’s OK because so many adults are telling them it’s OK.

“I don’t think parents have any idea about what is really going on and why our children are behaving like this. I shudder to think where it will end.

“My daughter has been away from the influence of school for some months, and she’s started growing her hair and she’s ditched the bindings.

“She’s getting interested in music, and I’ve seen her laughing and smiling like she used to. I’m holding my breath, hoping she will find herself again.

“She’s a wonderful , talented child and does not deserve to have her life destroyed by ideologies based on lies.”

Laura’s story

Mum Laura, from East Renfrewshire, said: “After almost five years of tears, tantrums, cutting herself and refusing to speak to me, I feel beaten down, silenced, traumatised and terrified over what the future holds for my child.

“My daughter has just announced that, now she is 17, she has placed her name on the waiting list for Sandyford clinic so she can get access to the testosterone which will change her body forever.

“It feels like the final straw.

“My daughter has autism, and because of that, she had no really close friends.

“When she started secondary school, she was attracted by the bright rainbow flags and glitter of the school’s LGBTQ Pride club where she was encouraged to join.

“She was overwhelmed by the lovebombing they used.

“She’d tell us there were lots of different genders. Her new friends told her there were. Because she’s autistic, she believed this nonsense.

“Every other day, she’d change her mind about what gender she wanted to be.

“She wouldn’t listen when it was explained she was going through puberty and questioning the changes.

“Before we knew it, the secrecy started, the trawling of unsavoury internet sites, going behind our backs and getting bindings so she could tie down and hide her breasts.”

Just when the mum thought things could not get any worse, her middle daughter began demanding to be known as a boy too.

Laura said: “We were utterly blindsided by this development. She was only 11 years old, going from primary six to seven at the time.

“But after she was told at a Relationships Sexual Health and Parenthood education class that she could have been born in the wrong body, and she could be a boy if she wanted to be, everything changed for her too.”

Desperate to find help, Laura took her daughters to the controversial Sandyford gender clinic run by NHS Glasgow & Clyde.

Laura said: “They said our middle daughter could get puberty blockers. Thankfully, I did a lot of research on the lasting effects, and we cancelled return visits.”

The mum eventually reached out to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for help.

Laura said: “When we refused to call our daughter a boy, the CAHMS counsellor reported us to social services as ‘bad parents’ for daring to question whether socially transitioning was right thing for my autistic daughter. All the congratulations and affirmation coming from teachers and counsellors about having a ‘new gender’, it made it a million times harder for my girls to change their minds and go back to just being them.”

Laura said things became even darker when both daughters self-harmed.

She said: “Behind all the rainbow flags and unicorns there’s a sinister control going on.

“If we dare not conform with the ideology, there are ‘glitter families’ who do agree, and they will take our place.

“We’re terrified our girls will cut themselves off from us. I’ve seen it happen to other parents.”