Gender dysphoria

On 6th July this year, a case I hadn’t previously heard about was decided. It was a claim by a registered charity called ‘Mermaids’. It had applied to the court for an order that a rival charity, the LGB Alliance (note the lack of ‘T’), should have its charitable registration removed. The fight was because LGB Alliance opposes the ‘trans ideology’ of Mermaids.

To me this is the equivalent of the C of E asking for the charitable status of all Sikh temples to be removed because they’re not Churches. So then, not good. And a demerit for Jolyon Maugham and the ‘Good Law Project’ for deciding to take on the case for Mermaids.

It is of course true that LGBA has its HQ at 55 Tufton Street, the address for so many organisations of a rather extreme right-wing persuasion. So we can see whom they align with and who might be supporting them financially. On the other hand, the founders of the LGB Alliance are two lesbians and so they’re entitled to oppose views which, they consider, are contrary to their interests.

The two judges determining the case said that, although the point did not need to be decided by them, they could not actually agree between themselves whether LGB Alliance was entitled to its registration as a charity. For LGBA simply to attack other charities, such as Mermaids and Stonewall, looked more like the activity of a political organisation than a charity.

The judges however went on to decide the case simply on the basis that Mermaids did not have the required legal standing to challenge the Charity Commission’s original decision. And so the registration stood.

Having looked at the web-site of LGB Alliance, I’m not convinced that they are really trying to do anything very constructive for the LGB community. On the other hand, they’ve had an existential fight on their hands for the last year or two - one which will have cost money (lawyers’ fees) and a lot of time. So perhaps they’ve been distracted from their core purpose.

They would say, however, that Mermaids and others holding similar opinions are attacking the very nature of homosexuality. Although I have no skin in the game, I disagree completely with the absolutist stand taken that we all have a ‘right’ to be regarded for all purposes as the gender we have decided to adopt, with all that that implies – and the nonsensical contortions in our vocabulary which go with it. Not to mention the much discussed effect that has on the safety of (biological) women.

Mermaids have a policy, along with Stonewall, of refusing to engage in discussion about the question, simply reasserting each time their ‘truth’ - that a trans ‘man’ is a man and a trans ‘woman’ is a woman – for all purposes. No debate will be entered into. Their new gender has been ‘deemed’ into existence. And so Mermaids is fully committed to the notion that gender identity trumps biological sex.

At the same time, it supports and advocates irreversible bodily treatments to make the person claiming a particular gender identity look and function like a person of that opposite (biological) sex. Of course, none of these actually change the person’s sex, and they can lead to a loss of sexual desire, function and fertility.

LGBA instead focuses on the rights of same-sex attracted people. For these rights to be protected, it is essential that sex is accepted as a biological reality which cannot simply be erased by the social construct of gender.

They take the view, no doubt, that conversion therapy – in this case that gender dysphoria means that the only answer is to physically take on the characteristics of the opposite sex - aimed at persuading people not to be homosexual is morally unacceptable, as well as ineffective.

LGBA is focused on LGB people of all ages. Mermaids concentrates on children & adolescents: making physical and hormonal changes early on to turn them into their desired ‘other’ gender obviously produces a more realistic-looking outcome.

So why the stand-up fight between the two charities? Because LGB Alliance see that the likes of Mermaids are wanting to deny the ‘reality’, as LGBA would see it, of homosexuality, in favour of producing a person deemed to be a person of the opposite sex, so ‘transing away the gay’.

Research shows, however, that about 80% of children & adolescents with gender dysphoria who have psychotherapeutic support, but no physical treatments typically come to be happy with their bodies as they are, and turn out to be gay or lesbian -  [see below for an extract]

We also hear that at
the main treatment centre for trans children, the Tavistock Clinic (until recently closed down), staff used to joke that soon there would be no gays left, because they were encouraged to transition.

Given a choice to live happily as a gay or lesbian however, which is now most certainly possible, or alternatively to have what are brutal treatments to seek an impossible goal with a lifetime of corrective surgery and drugs, most, if properly informed, would surely choose the former. Now that we have as a society accepted gay relationships, surely it would be absurd not to encourage the kinder and more humane path of simply accepting the reality, provided to us by the research, that the vast majority of those with gender dysphoria are indeed gay or lesbian.

The outcomes of GDC have been discussed in terms of its persistence and desistence. For most children with GDC, whether GD will persist or desist will probably be determined between the ages of 10 and 13 years,26 although some may need more time.27 Evidence from the 10 available prospective follow-up studies from childhood to adolescence (reviewed in the study by Ristori and Steensma28) indicates that for ~80% of children who meet the criteria for GDC, the GD recedes with puberty. Instead, many of these adolescents will identify as non-heterosexual.17,29 Steensma et al26 interviewed adolescents with different outcomes of GDC (persistence or desistance). The adolescents mentioned social environment, the anticipated results of bodily changes and first romantic and/or sexual experiences as central factors in the desistance or persistence of GD. “

15 July 2023

Paul Buckingham

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