On a dull autumn day in 1964, two NHS doctors strapped a 17-year-old boy into a wooden chair in a dark, windowless room and covered him in electrodes. During hours of so-called therapy, they repeatedly electrocuted him while showing him images of women’s clothing.
That’s the start of a BBC profile of Carolyn Mercer, a trans woman.
At work, Carolyn bound her developing breasts to hide the effects of her treatment. But in 1994, a journalist learned she was taking hormones, and Carolyn’s personal life was plastered across tabloids claiming it was in the “public interest” to report the secret of a high-profile head teacher.
It gets considerably more upsetting. Consider this a massive trigger warning.
These stories matter. They matter because anti-trans activists still believe in attempting to “cure” trans people. They matter because newspapers still claim monstering trans people is in the public interest. And they matter because right now someone is doing just what Mercer did: trying to hide who they really are.