Medical evidence over trans ideology: welcome to the doctors’ resistance

 May 07 2023
The Sunday Times
I was at a talk in London recently when I noticed a man waiting to meet me. He was an inner-city GP, he said, and there was a group that wished to speak to me — had I heard of CAN-SG? I have now. Over the past week I’ve spoken to several members of the Clinical Advisory Network on Sex and Gender, set up about three years ago by and for clinicians in the UK and Ireland who want greater understanding of the effects of sex and gender in healthcare.

In other words, it’s a group of medical professionals who are concerned that the creep of gender ideology into their profession is compromising their duty to do no harm. Some told me they had been accused by their own colleagues of transphobia for — in one instance — not using a patient’s chosen pronouns when discussing their case, even though the patient wasn’t present. “It’s confusing to describe a young female patient’s history of sexual abuse and trauma if I have to refer to her as ‘him’,” said an NHS psychiatrist.

Others described their frustration with medical institutions such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which in November publicly rebuked its own members on Twitter for asking questions after an equality, diversity and inclusion training session in which it was claimed, among other things, that biological sex is “socially contrived” as opposed to a scientific fact. In February the college proudly announced it had received a gold award from Stonewall’s LGBT workplace equality scheme, which some have accused of stifling free speech.

Many mentioned the deletion of the word “woman” from some NHS web pages about the menopause and ovarian and cervical cancer, which one GP described to me as “a travesty that will be harmful to women”.

Almost all asked to be anonymous in this article. “The level of fear is pretty strong among our members. We have GPs, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, academics. But about half our members work in the psychiatric professions, because they have been at the sharp end of the risks of gender-affirming care and the lack of evidence,” CAN-SG’s co-chairwoman Dr Louise Irvine, a retired GP, told me.

“Gender-affirming care” refers to the theory that if a patient says they feel their gender does not match their biological sex, the medical professional must immediately agree with them. According to gender ideologues, if a doctor asks the patient questions such as, “When did this feeling start, and could it have anything to do with your sexuality?”, that is tantamount to gay conversion therapy. “Several colleagues have been accused within their profession of conversion therapy just for asking their patients questions, which does make you nervous,” one GP told me. And how old are the younger patients who have come to the GP with gender dysphoria? “Anywhere between 11 and 14. Mainly girls who had previously identified as lesbians.”

At first I was surprised that CAN-SG has to exist at all. Since Dr Hilary Cass published her interim review last year, which heavily criticised the gender-affirming treatment given to young people with gender dysphoria at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, I assumed sense was returning to the medical sector. GIDS is scheduled to close imminently and be replaced by regional hubs. Hadn’t the argument been settled, at least in the medical profession?

“I wish it were that simple. But people who worked at GIDS will work at the new hubs, and then there are the effects of pressure groups such as Mermaids, the LGBT Foundation, the Trans Gap Project and so on,” one consultant psychiatrist told me. “Pressure groups set themselves up as experts in ‘LGBTQIA healthcare’, but those are all very different groups of people with very different needs. The groups obfuscate the differences between sex and gender, which in the medical profession has hugely negative effects, and they all promote transition,” added a GP.

CAN-SG has about 100 members, with more joining every week. It is a support group for its members, and it advocates more evidence-based treatment of those with gender dysphoria. One of the many ironies in gender activism is that the people who claim to care most about those with gender dysphoria are invariably the ones rushing them towards deeply experimental — to say the least — psychological and medical procedures. The clinicians in CAN-SG are trying to adhere to the aims of the profession and help rather than harm their patients. “The Cass report helped to put the brakes on medicalising young people in the NHS, but we mustn’t underestimate the impact of the private sector and the financial element,” a GP told me.