Against the noonday sun of transgender affirmation in Britain a dark object was seen to pass this week. It was a question mark, or rather, several marks in close succession. Two psychotherapists, a re-transitioned woman and a member of parliament cast doubt on what, in a few short years, has become standard practice among health professionals: putting children on the transgender path.

In the Daily Mail Bob Withers, a psychotherapist of 30 years standing, made an impassioned plea for a halt to the surgical transitioning of teenagers, “hundreds, possibly thousands” of whom are being enabled along this path in the public health system. He warns that “in 20 years’ time, I believe we will look back on this folly as one of the darkest periods in the history of modern medicine.”

On public service television (Channel 4) another psychotherapist, Stella O’Malley, presented a documentary, Trans Kids: It’s Time to Talk, in which she worries about the children who might be prematurely given the options of body-altering surgery and a lifetime of hormone pills. It’s something she escaped herself,she believes, only by being born a half-decade too early for the trans wave.

In her programme, ‘Cale’, 25, talks about her youthful obsession with “passing” to the opposite sex, her realisation that it was a mistake, and her later “re-transition” to female. She also talks about the denial and exclusion she met with when she tried discuss her problems with the trans community.

And since these manifestos are prompted by the government’s proposal to change the law concerning official recognition of a gender change, Conservative MP David Davies has chipped in with the complaint that transgender activists have created an atmosphere of menace that is stifling the debate around gender issues that the government asserts it wants.

These people are by no means the first to air their concerns about the social mania that has seen a 2,500 percent increase over nine years in the number of children accessing the UK’s National Health Service for gender services – including 17 in one secondary school.

In April, psychiatrist Lucy Griffin became the first NHS doctor to publicly voice fears about the huge increase in young people receiving irreversible medical treatments after declaring themselves transgender. Radical feminist groups have been increasingly vocal about their space being invaded by trans-women.

Nor are the rebels necessarily moral conservatives (social conservatives have largely fallen in with the trend). Bob Withers thinks society should “celebrate gender variance” and agrees that “conversion therapy” (a term used to discredit all therapy geared to overcoming same-sex attraction) “should be banned.”

OK, but now he finds that the term has succumbed to mission creep:

“Now, powerful bodies including the NHS and major counselling organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding – an agreement on how to practise – which extends the definition of conversion therapy to cover patients who might be transgender.”

“And this well-meaning memorandum is being used by trans activists to stop therapists, psychologists and others from asking rigorous questions about whether or not a patient does, in fact, have genuine ‘gender dysphoria’.”

This is Withers’ first point: the need to distinguish genuine cases of dysphoria from other mental health issues.

Second point: when it comes to treatment, surgery should be a last resort. “We should always begin by working to help the mind fit better with the body before we start altering the body to fit the mind.”

Third point: there is a wider problem of unhappy children.

“What is happening is this: we are bringing up a generation of children who have quite complex mental issues.”

“Identifying as trans can feel like a way to explain that suffering. Rather than understanding where it might be coming from – feeling lonely or isolated, being bullied, having an autistic spectrum disorder or struggling with any number of issues from sexuality to abuse to self-harm — we are allowing them to change sex.”

A therapist should be able to explore what is behind a teenage boy’s desire to become a girl; or whether the “attraction of popularity” might be behind several girls in the same school saying they are trans. “Yet none of these possibilities can now be safely raised by psychotherapists, psychiatrists or teachers.”

Some are scared that if they do their job properly they will be denounced as homophobic and struck off. Others are all too anxious to “signal their progressive views.”

Such is the power, coercive or persuasive, of trans activism. Says Withers:

“Recently 650 trans activists signed a letter published in Therapy Today, the house magazine of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, calling on anyone not practising ‘affirmation therapy’ to be booted out. If the Government presses ahead with plans to allow people to ‘self- identify’ as whatever gender they like, without external validation, I fear that would strengthen the hand of those arguing for trans-affirmative therapy.”

None of the trans groups and activists Stella O’Malley contacted for her TV documentary would agree to take part in the programme. But when she attends a feminist event with various trans-critical speakers, black masked figures burst in to shout it down.

Again, she meets an academic whose research on “detransitioners” — those who reverse the process — was turned down by a university because “it is better not to offend people.” Spineless academics and virtue signalling professionals do young people no favours.

But the great unanswered question in all this is, why so much distress among young people? Why do we have “a generation of children who have quite complex mental issues”?

That’s a question for other articles, but O’Malley’s documentary contains one clue. ‘Cale’, the young woman who detransitioned, had experienced family breakdown, something that is very common and a cause of much unhappiness among children. Broken or not, there is bound to be something in the family background that makes a child or adolescent want to be “someone else”.

In the best fairytales they can. But in real life we have to address the source of the trouble.

This article has been republished from MercatorNet under a Creative Commons license.

[Image Credit: Flickr-Joe Szilagyi CC BY-SA 2.0]