Sunday, 23 October 2016

No Helen Lewis, the last thing trans kids need is more “public debate”.

One of the most predictable things about the “Child J” case has been the way those opposed to the existence of trans people have jumped on the case. “One trans child has been found to have been coerced by her parents therefore all trans children are…” goes their logic, more predictable than transphobia in New Statesman.

What is worth mentioning first is that a number of cases like that of Child J have already happened (although the judgments have not always been made public), and been resolved very differently, in favour of the trans child and loving parent who respects that child’s gender expression, despite either being taken away by a court or having had that threat hanging over them for some considerable time. In other words the courts have a pretty dire record when dealing with trans children, they have, indeed, got it wrong in every case of which I have heard up to now. So the chances are that this case will ultimately turn out to be a mistake also.

Lewis’s response has been to argue that “we need more debate” about trans children. Well she would wouldn’t she? She is editor of one of the media platforms that publishes much of this “debate” about trans issues and who stands to benefit in terms of valuable pageviews. Her rag has become so infamous for engaging in “debates" about trans people in such a biased way that it is now more often than not referred to by trans people as “New Transphobe” since Lewis published a particularly vile article written by TERF (transphobe using feminism as a cover for trans hatred) writing under a pseudonym. Indeed some trans people who have written for New Transphobe in the past have now expressed the desire to have their work withdrawn from NT’s archives such is the low level of trust, amongst trans people, in her rag. If there is to be any productive debate then she ends to work very hard to establish trust with the trans community, unless, of course her interpretation of "public debate" is... how should I put it... "different" from that of many others.

The problem with advocating “public debate” about this issue is that what is really meant is "people-who-know-nothing-about-trans-children-but-who-are-rabidly-opposed-to-trans-people’s-right-to-exist-being-given-the-opportunity-to-spout-disinformation-by-media-platforms-like-NT".  Since the experience of the EU referendum campaign anyone who advocates “public debate” in the UK as a means of progress in any area of debate is quite clearly being dishonest. The huge amount of garbage produced every time trans issues are discussed in NT and most other media platforms is evidence that public debate is the last thing trans children need. Advocating public debate when that debate so far has consisted almost entirely of a tsunami of falsehoods spewed out by trans haters is in my view particularly disingenuous. It is telling that in her blog Lewis noted how Mermaids has opposed the Child J judgment but failed to mention why: In my opinion a deliberate attempt to sully the reputation of an organisation which has saved many trans children’s lives. If this is the level of “public debate” we are to expect then many trans children will suffer actual harm as a result. Just one of Mermaids’ criticisms, omitted by Lewis, starts to put a different complexion on things.


“…why were the only NHS clinic providing care for gender variant children's not asked to give evidence?”

Maybe Lewis is an acolyte of Michael Gove; believing that experts should be ignored in favour of biased bigots and haters with hidden agendas…?

If any debate is required right now what might be necessary, to prevent this sort of court case in future, is a debate between professionals in fields of psychology, law, education, social work and gender and representatives of trans children. In other words professionals and parents who have worked with trans children, who know trans children and individuals who have been trans children rather than journalists, who haven’t. Including people in that discussion who fundamentally oppose trans children’s rights (and indeed trans people’s rights) will reduce that discussion to the level of all other open public debates about trans issues, lies (some no doubt published in NT) followed by trans people’s attempts to expose those lies.  Indeed one of the things that is often regarded as preventing discussion within the trans community about serious trans issues, is the threat that such a debate will be hijacked by transphobes for their own purposes.

So Lewis’s attempt to drag into this this the NSPCC’s abortive debate about trans children between Sarah Ditum, a journalist on NT and Kellie Maloney, a boxing promoter, based on Child J’s case is highly disingenuous. Quite what useful knowledge either could bring to such a debate is way beyond me. Neither has any specific qualifications or experience in this area, although it is possible that, Kellie Maloney was a trans child, as was I. If this is the kind of “public debate”; ie, an opportunity for the distribution of distortions, disinformation, falsehoods and fabrications, that she is advocating then in my opinion she is just attempting to justify more damaging mendacity from those who are not interested in anything other than harming trans people and trans children. 


Judging by her blog post, which chooses, for example, to focus on that tiny, and as a percentage, diminishing proportion of trans "regretters", while forgetting to mention the large number of trans children who self-harm and attempt suicide (I went to speak to a trans youth group in the North of England a couple of years ago and almost every young trans person there had visibly self-harmed, and some spoke of suicide attempts) tells us all we need to know about the kind of selective debate she wants. The same kind of debate trans people have always had to respond to; sensationalised, biased in favour of TERFs and based on the legitimisation of distortions, lies and disinformation designed to harm trans children.


Postscript; the following has been released by Mermaids, again something not referred to in the Lewis blog...


"The judge in this case has effectively gagged the Mum which has stopped her from being able to defend herself. I personally (Susie Green CEO) and other members of Mermaids have known this family for 3 years. There have been 2 independent assessments done by psychologists who work with gender variant children, both concluded that the child was very clear about who she was and was not being coerced in any way. Mum was supportive but not directing or causing the behaviour. The independent psychiatrist that the judge quotes also stated there is no evidence that the mum caused the gender identity issues. But that didn't get into the judgement. Why weren't the only NHS centre supporting children with gender identity issues not consulted on this case? The Tavistock are clear that allowing a child to express their gender identity is not a child protection issue. Why did an anonymous allegation of smoking pot that has never been proven or substantiated and is clearly malicious make it into a court judgement? The Mum was subjected to multiple malicious anonymous referrals to social services. Schools are often unable or unwilling to accept gender issues in children and yet the Mum was criticised for removing the child due to bullying. She has been painted as a controlling and abusive character by events being depicted in such a way that makes her entirely understandable protectiveness seem extreme. 

It wasn't. I was party to meetings that were called without the Mums knowledge or participation, the clear disbelief from the school and GP that a child can express themselves and their assertion that it was the Mum. It wasn't. The child knows who they are. I can only imagine the bewilderment and distress she must be feeling now having being removed in the middle of the night and placed with a father she had not seen in 3 years, who the last time she saw him he was involved in an altercation with her Mum through the car window, the car that she was in.

Let's be clear here. Cross gender play and expression does not constitute gender dysphoria. Kids should be allowed to play with whatever they want without any conclusions being drawn. I love sponge bob, but that doesn't make me a boy. Most children are perfectly happy with their birth gender. But some are not. This child consistently and repeatedly asserted that she was a girl. This Mum was undermined by professionals that had no experience or understanding of gender identity issues in children, so Mum protected her child and fought for recognition of her gender expression.

The judge said the mum did not follow the Tavistock recommendations. This was because she decided that her 5 year old, who was happy, outgoing and confident, should not be subjected to appointments with a mental health professional who undoubtedly would know nothing about gender issues for no reason. The judgement states in one sentence that the child was isolated and not even registered with a GP, then in another line says she was registered as a girl. Which is it? This child was home schooled, but was part of a local network of parents and children who met regularly and socialised well. Social services stated in a report that the home schooling Mum was providing was of a high standard.
Do not believe everything you read in the papers. I personally know this family and it is heartbreaking to see the Mum made out to be some kind of controlling abusive parent when the truth is so very different."

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