It is hard not to have some sympathy for Jayne Ozanne, James Morton and Ellen Murray, three experts who have this week resigned from the government’s LGBT Advisory Panel. Each have staked their reputation on an ideology that is crumbling under the weight of public and governmental scrutiny.
Ozanne, who quit on Wednesday, criticised Equalities Ministers Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch as having created “a hostile environment for LGBT people among this administration.” All three mentioned a change in attitude to ‘trans rights’ but it was the apparent reluctance of Badenoch to immediately agree to the banning of conversion therapy that was the final straw. Badenoch’s argument was more nuanced than has been widely reported, she noted there is legislation already in place which could be used to prosecute those attempting to undertake conversion therapy.
As Kate Harris and Bev Jackson of the LGB Alliance note:
“Fortunately, whatever disgusting practices existed in the past or exist elsewhere, this no longer occurs in UK clinical settings. A Memorandum of Understanding on conversion therapy has been signed by all professional mental health bodies. The approach it recommends for clients coming to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity is exactly the same. It is a neutral approach – seeking neither to affirm nor deny.”
“There are certainly victims here. They are especially the many young women who were “affirmed” as teenagers and now realise they are lesbians. We are determined to protect them from this misguided and potentially damaging legislation.”
“Any religious fanatics or others who apply coercion in an attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, whether in a family setting or elsewhere, can be prosecuted for abuse.”
“So who is driving the campaign to legislate against “conversion therapy”? It is driven by Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence, Mermaids and so on. In our view, it has little to do with protecting anyone from conversion therapy.”
“We hear from therapists who tell us they are pressured, in spite of the Memorandum of Understanding, to “affirm” teenagers identifying as the opposite sex without exploring, in the appropriate neutral way, the various factors that may be in play. There are certainly victims here. They are especially the many young women who were “affirmed” as teenagers and now realise they are lesbians. We are determined to protect them from this misguided and potentially damaging legislation.”
Between them, Ozanne, Morton and Murray have spent decades campaigning for the right to love and live without prejudice, secure that they were ‘on the right side of history’ but they failed to acknowledge a conflict between the rights of the LGB and the T. Thankfully, Badenoch and Truss were paying attention and listening to the valid concerns of the people their own advisors had ignorantly dismissed as prejudiced.
“It would be utterly wrong for the government to ban any form of therapy that explores issues of gender identity and gender dysphoria, particularly with vulnerable younger people. Indeed, it can be argued that affirming such young people on a one-way track to a gender change is a new form of conversion therapy, if with a new ‘gender identity’ they become ‘straight’.”
As the group Conservatives for Women noted:
“In recent years there has been a serious effort from some people to use the term ‘conversion therapy’ to apply to gender identity as well as sexual orientation… It would be utterly wrong for the government to ban any form of therapy that explores issues of gender identity and gender dysphoria, particularly with vulnerable younger people. This is particularly so, given there is evidence that a disproportionate number of the young people seeking help with gender identity are same-sex attracted. Indeed, it can be argued that affirming such young people on a one-way track to a gender change is a new form of conversion therapy, if with a new ‘gender identity’ they become ‘straight’.”
The three LGBT Advisory Panel resignees have simply been following the mainstream line, a narrative which argues transgender people are uniquely oppressed and at risk. It is true that in parts of the global South transexuals in prostitution are at risk, but thankfully in the UK people who identify as trans are statistically at a low risk of violence.
The idea that asking questions is harmful should raise alarm bells. One of the most dangerous myths promoted by members of the LGBT Advisory Panel is that any questioning about the belief that people can be born in the wrong body is rooted in hostility and ignorance. It is well known that people who have suffered abuse are at risk of feelings of dissociation from their bodies. Similarly, those with ASD and co-morbid mental health problems are also more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria. Hormones and invasive surgeries are a last resort for those who cannot be reconciled with their sexed bodies, and therapists must be free to ask questions in order to reduce instances of post-transition regret. Follow-up studies with those who have undergone medical transition suggest that far from alleviating mental health problems, it can in fact increase the risk of suicidal ideation. Naturally, these facts do not support the industry that has been built upon the notion that those with gender dysphoria are best served by medical intervention.
How otherwise intelligent people can be sucked into an ideology with such shaky foundations is a testament to how vulnerable each of us is to fashionable group think.
How otherwise intelligent people can be sucked into an ideology with such shaky foundations is a testament to how vulnerable each of us is to fashionable group think. There is no reason why the notion of ‘gender identity’ should sit alongside sexual orientation, but the sly addition of the ‘T’ to the ‘LGB’ has lulled many people into assuming any challenge to the ideology of gender identity is rooted in bigotry. This is particularly galling when one considers the very basis of sexual orientation is undermined by the theory of gender identity; after-all homosexuals are same-sex, not same ‘gender’ attracted, the clue is in the word.
Common sense has not always been popular, and it is easy to forget the punishments meted out to those in the past who dared to challenge the mainstream orthodoxy. It took around three hundred years before the model developed by Copernicus showing the sun at the centre of the solar system was accepted, and in the interim those who supported heliocentrism were persecuted and punished by the Catholic Church.
Such unenlightened thinking is not a thing of the past, today’s heretics like the LGB Alliance are considered ‘unclean’ by those who have staked their reputation and livelihoods to transgender ideology. Let’s hope it doesn’t take three centuries for common sense around sex and gender to roll back round.
Jo Bartosch is a writer and campaigner for the rights of women and girls.