A member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet signaled last week the government may move to ban transgender treatments for minors out of a desire to prevent “irreversible” damage.
Liz Truss, who is the Minister for Women and Equalities as well as Minister of State for Trade Policy, made the comments to a parliamentary committee Wednesday.
“I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit,” she said, according to Sky News. “But I think it's very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.”
The government’s new rules would apply to those under 18.
James Kirkup, a writer for the British magazine The Spectator, noted puberty-blocking medications taken by children might reduce fertility in adulthood. He also repeated a truism among supporters of Truss: “A transgender child is like a vegetarian cat. You know who’s really making the decisions.” In other words, parents often are the ones pushing children to transition.
“Some people involved in the trans debate have been screaming for years now about this,” he wrote. “They say that the result of successful lobbying by trans campaigners, groupthink among clinicians and lack of oversight by politicians intent on staying out of the trans minefield is that a significant number of children are being subjected to serious, possibly irreversible and possibly harmful, medical treatment – a situation that will one day be recognised as a national scandal.”
The two sides, he noted, have opposing worldviews: One side wants to protect children from making irreversible harmful decisions, while the other side wants to protect children “from the harm that might befall them if those medical interventions are not carried out.”
Further, Kirkup asserted, both sides rely on faulty stats and arguments.
“A lot of the ‘facts’ thrown around the trans debate about juvenile self-harm are zombie stats generated by campaign groups, not objective experts,” he wrote. “Second, the narrative that trans kids are at greater risk of self-harm generally ignores co-morbidity: a lot of the people concerned also suffer mental health problems; self-harm rates among gender-variant children may well be in line with those in the wider population of all children and adolescents with mental health problems – still too high and still something that should be addressed, but not something unique to the 'trans' group.
“Third, and probably most important, the 'if you’re a trans kid you’re going to kill yourself' narrative is irresponsible and potentially harmful in itself. It flies in the face of guidance from the Samaritans and is at odds with the accounts given by some clinicians working with trans children, who say that many such children are happy and robust.”
Truss’ comments came four months after a Sky News investigation discovered that National Health Service doctors were “over-diagnosing” gender dysphoria for children out of fears they would be branded “transphobic.” The charge was made by former staff.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.