Labour’s ‘trans conversion therapy’ ban is a danger to gay kids

Parents and therapists who refuse to ‘affirm’ a child’s gender could soon be criminalised.

Kate Barker

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

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The Labour Party’s manifesto, unveiled earlier this week, promises to bring forward legislation for a ‘trans inclusive’ ban on conversion therapy. This will send a chill through the consulting rooms of therapists around the UK.

Many therapists have already confided their worries to Dr Hilary Cass, the paediatrician whose findings recently demolished the case for offering so-called gender-affirming care. They fear that asking a girl why she dislikes her body – so much so that she wants to cut off her own breasts – could be framed as conversion therapy.

Therapists who work with children know that the majority of young people claiming to be ‘trans’ and seeking to access gender services are actually kids beginning to come to terms with a sense that they may be lesbian, gay or bisexual. This was confirmed by the Cass Review earlier this year, which, citing figures from the NHS Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), showed that 89 per cent of girls and 81 per cent of boys who were referred to the Tavistock clinic were actually same-sex attracted.

Therapists have good reason to be afraid of Labour’s pledge. In 2022, LGB Alliance patron, Dr Az Hakeem, a consultant psychiatrist and medical psychotherapist, was the victim of an elaborate sting operation. A young woman presented herself for a consultation and assured him that, aged 17, she had decided she wanted to become a man. At the appointment, he invited her to reflect on the long-term consequences of transitioning. It was the only time they met and the consultation lasted less than an hour. Afterwards, the young woman reported Hakeem to the General Medical Council (GMC) for ‘attempting to practice transgender conversion therapy’. News of the case was gleefully tweeted by Nancy Kelley, the then chief executive of Stonewall, as evidence that a ban on conversion practices was essential.

We don’t know who was behind this tangled plot, but it’s clear that the manufacture of grievance is a key driver for this legislation, which has no purpose except to ensure that any child who declares he or she is trans is immediately affirmed – without question and at speed.

Thankfully, the case against Hakeem was eventually dismissed. But what therapist would want to risk his or her professional future if a conversion-practices ban was in place?

There’s no doubt that gender dysphoria is real. Girls, in particular, are expert at turning their adolescent distress inwards. Anorexia, bulimia and cutting are all expressions of self-hatred and fear. These should be met with empathy and counselling. The lobbyists for a conversion-practices ban urge an affirmation-only approach that would assist in the self-harm of girls by handing them control of the scalpel.

Therapists who demur will face challenges from furious lobbyists and may find themselves disbarred, or even criminalised. Those therapists who don’t believe in magical genders, and recognise that trans is a social contagion now primarily affecting young girls, will simply avoid this area of practice altogether. That means reduced provision at a time when child mental-health services are already so stretched that they are failing the most vulnerable.

The timing is terrible on Labour’s part. Its manifesto commitment arrives just as the scientific facts and evidence begin to intrude upon the fantasy of ‘trans joy’. A recently released study, based on outpatient-billing data for all legally insured persons in Germany, shows that the majority of young people outgrow their struggles with their gender identity. It notes that 73 per cent of 15- to 19-year-old females with a gender-identity-related diagnosis desist after five years. Yet Labour, in hock to an old promise, has decided that a conversion-practices ban is the least-worst bone to throw to activists.

It’s no surprise Labour is doing this. It is fleeing from an earlier promise to introduce gender self-identification, which it hastily dropped in 2023, in the manner of Tory MP Jamie Wallis, who infamously ran away from his pranged car and a demolished lamp post in the middle of the night, while dressed in a black mini-skirt. ‘I’m trans’, he later explained as his excuse.

If Labour thinks we will be so easily distracted from the damage being done to lesbian, gay and bisexual young people, then it is sorely mistaken.

Kate Barker is CEO of LGB Alliance.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics UK


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