Left-Wing Guardian Admits ‘Horrifying’ Book Detailing Trans Kids Clinic Practices ‘Reads Like a Dystopian Novel’

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A review of a book examining the practices of the controversial children’s transgender clinic in Britain by the left-wing Guardian acknowledged that the so-called treatment that has been offered to youngsters “reads like a dystopian novel”.

The findings of the recently released Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by former BBC Newsnight journalist Hanna Barnes have been described as a book that “cannot be easily dismissed2, in a review by the left-wing Guardian newspaper’s Sunday sister publication The Observer, both of which may be said to have been otherwise broadly supportive of the transgender movement. 

“This is the story of the hurt caused to potentially hundreds of children since 2011, and perhaps before that. To shrug in the face of that story – to refuse to listen to the young transgender people whose treatment caused, among other things, severe depression, sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis and stunted growth, and whose many other problems were simply ignored – requires a callousness that would be far beyond my imagination were it not for the fact that, thanks to social media, I already know such stony-heartedness to be out there,” the Observer’s Rachel Cooke wrote.

“At times, the world Barnes describes, with its genitalia fashioned from colons and its fierce culture of omertà, feels like some dystopian novel. But it isn’t, of course. It really happened,” she said, adding: “As Barnes makes perfectly clear, this isn’t a culture war story. This is a medical scandal, the full consequences of which may only be understood in many years’ time.”

The book from Barnes comes just months after the National Health Service (NHS) ordered that the Tavistock Centre and its controversial Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) be shut down by this year after an independent review from Dr Hillary Cass found that the treatments offered were “not a safe or viable long-term option” for children.

According to BBC journo Barnes, questions first started to arise in 2005 over the practice by GIDS clinicians to prescribe hormone-altering drugs to children over the age of 16, however, the programme was steadily increased and expanded to younger children, with at least one 10-year-old being put on the drugs by 2016. The book claimed that the doctors at the clinic initially claimed that the effects of puberty-blocking drugs were reversible and that they were effective in reducing the distress of children experiencing gender dysphoria.

Yet, this was not the case, according to the book, with many of the effects of the drugs not being reversible and the clinic’s own research finding that they appeared to have no real impact on the mental health of those children who were prescribed the drugs.

The Observer review also pointed to “horrifying” statistics published in the book, such as over a third of child referrals to the transgender clinic having symptoms of autism, compared to less than two per cent of the population as a whole. A high proportion of children seeking care at the centre were also victims of sexual abuse.

In one instance recounted by the book, a boy suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), who refused to leave his room with the exception to shower — which he did multiple times per day — was immediately recommended to begin hormone-blocking therapy as they assumed his issues would subside if he was treated as a female. Ultimately the family rejected the course of action and he now lives as a gay man.

The claims for the book back up numerous reports from whistleblowers, including the former governor at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Dr David Bell who revealed last year that the clinic often used dubious methods of testing whether children should be placed on hormone-altering drugs, such as if girls failed to show interest in “pink ribbons and dollies“.

In October, the Association of Clinical Psychologists UK (ACP-UK) said that the decision to close the clinic was “precipitated by a number of systemic failings” such as the clinic taking an “approach that was predominantly affirmative, rather than exploratory”.

“Barnes is rightly reluctant to ascribe the Gids culture primarily to ideology, but nevertheless, many of the clinicians she interviewed used the same word to describe it: mad. And who can blame them? After more than 370 pages, I began to feel half mad myself,” the Observer reviewer revealed.

“At times, the world Barnes describes, with its genitalia fashioned from colons and its fierce culture of omertà, feels like some dystopian novel. But it isn’t, of course. It really happened, and she has worked bravely and unstintingly to expose it.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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