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Bullshit Health LGBTQ+ Media

Good news, bad news

The UK government’s plans to roll back trans rights suffered a setback this week when tens of thousands of cisgender women emailed the Prime Minister to say “not in my name”. I don’t believe for a moment that the plans have been dropped – as today’s Guardian notes, Dominic Cummings was focus-grouping trans rights in the Autumn as a topic the conservatives can use to attack Labour – but it was a welcome reminder that anti-trans voices do not speak for most women.

As was this, in the LA Times: it’s very typical of the US response to JK Rowling’s blog post.

Poke a prejudice, almost any prejudice, and pretty quickly the conversation goes straight down the toilet. Those opposed to civil rights, LGBTQ rights and the Equal Rights Amendment all have historically boiled their bigotry down to some wild-eyed fear about what equality in any form will mean to the state of our public restrooms. Black people peeing with white people, men with women, straight people with gays people, trans with cis — oh, the horror, the horror.

As I’ve written before, the difference between the mainstream US media and the mainstream UK media is dramatic. Last night BBC’s Newsnight – which previously gave extensive coverage to an anti-trans piece in the BMJ without revealing that the article it was covering was written by the journalists who were covering it – once again decided to scaremonger about trans teens’ healthcare by getting the same journalists to essentially tell the same story again.

There was lots of scary music and lurid claims from conveniently anonymous sources, but no time to explain how the system currently works. Coincidentally, knowing how the system actually works is at odds with scary tales of children being railroaded at high speed into irreversible treatment.

The parent of a trans kid detailed the process in the I Paper last year, when waiting lists were shorter – they were 20 months for a first appointment then; it’s now 27 months and climbing.

Once you are seen for the first time, there follows a lengthy assessment process, involving a minimum of six appointments with two psychologists who assess and challenge the child over a period of at least six months, often stretching to years in limbo. Each appointment is a lost day of education and work, with long journeys to London, a second Gids centre in Leeds, or a handful of satellite clinics.

If this long assessment period is ever concluded, “hormone blockers” may be prescribed. These are designed to pause puberty, which allows the young person time to reflect on their gender. The medication is well understood, considered reversible, and has been used safely for nearly 30 years for transgender young people and considerably longer for treating early onset puberty.

Given the timing, it seems rather suspicious that Newsnight chose this of all weeks to reheat the same innuendo from what looks very much like a mendacious campaign. But it appears to have had the desired effect, with endless commenters on Newsnight’s social media comparing trans healthcare providers to Dr Mengele, claiming that this is a scandal akin to Thalidomide and describing an NHS facility as a “child abuse clinic”.

You may recall similar rhetoric being used before people started bombing abortion clinics or taking assault rifles to pizza parlours in the belief that Hilary Clinton was skinning babies in the basement.