Hyperbole, Hysteria & Doubling Down

Reactions to the Keira Bell Case

This week there was victory for Keira Bell and Mrs A in a landmark High Court judgement regarding the prescribing of puberty blockers to children.

Three judges ruled that a 13-year-old is “highly unlikely” to have the competence to understand the effect of these drugs on future fertility and sexual function, that it is “doubtful” a 14 or 15-year-old could knowingly consent to them, and that they are so experimental and life-changing, it is appropriate for doctors to seek a court order before prescribing them to 16 and 17-year-olds.

It should not have required a High Court ruling to adjudicate that children cannot make informed decisions around the taking of untested drugs which could cause irreparable damage to their health and to their bodies. But then again, it’s 2020.

As Keira herself said, “This judgement is not political; it is about the protection of vulnerable children”.

Of course, it was too much to hope for that all those who purport to care about the well being of dysphoric and gender non-conforming children would welcome this guidance and accept the expertise of the court.

Far from it; the lobbyists and their cheerleaders - who have been pushing puberty-blockers on younger and younger children for years - demonstrated exactly the sort of reckless behaviour which led us to this sad situation in the first place.

MERMAIDS:

Of course, first out of the trap was murky ‘charity’, Mermaids. With an income that has increased almost tenfold over the past four years, the speed and scale of their reaction isn’t really surprising.

Their barrage of tweets contained all the usual scare-mongering and hyperbole. It’s “An unforgivable & shameful betrayal of young people’s rights to autonomy over their own bodies” they said. It will cause “Irreparable damage to young trans people”. Apparently, NO OTHER young people will face this barrier to healthcare”. None of which is true.

Young people” you will notice. It’s a phrase used a lot in these carefully worded tweets. According to their own bio, Mermaids are concerned specifically with “Transgender kids”, yet there is no mention of the word “Children” in this response to the court’s judgement. Why could that be?

The hand-wringing continued into the evening with (untested and potentially dangerous) puberty-blockers being described as “life-saving”.

This implication of suicide is both dishonest and hugely irresponsible. But it was employed yet again, this time on national television, when Mermaids CEO, Susie Green, appeared on BBC’s Newsnight. She bandied about lots of unevidenced and anecdotal claims about the efficacy and safety of the puberty blockers. She also alleged that withholding these drugs would cause an “Inevitable rise in self-harm and suicidality”. As presenter Emily Maitlis pointed out, there is no proof to support such a claim.

STONEWALL:

Instead of rejoicing that, thanks to the action of a brave young lesbian, gender non-conforming gay and lesbian teenagers will now be afforded protection from potentially disastrous medical treatment, Stonewall declared the judgment a “Dangerous precedent” for the rights of all young people.

Again, there was much talk of “Young people" but no acknowledgement that the court’s ruling was primarily about CHILDREN.

PINK NEWS:

Pink News had no qualms about making wholly unsubstantiated and irresponsible claims that puberty blockers, “Save trans kids’ lives”. According to GIDS’ own website, it is unhelpful to make a link between patients and suicidality and that it is very rare for the children referred to the service to attempt self-harm or suicide. (Something Susie Green may also want to bear in mind.)

Astonishingly and, apparently without a trace of irony, Pink News quoted disgraced gender doctor and laughing stock, Helen Webberley.

That’s the Helen Webberley who was found guilty of operating an illegal gender clinic from which she flogged illicit hormones to 12-year-olds. The same Helen Webberley whose offshore clinic was involved in a dodgy operation selling hormones online. The same Helen Webberley whose livelihood depends on transing kids.

Here she is, still flogging her private offshore clinic, even after the High Court ruling.

Is that really the best you could do, Pink News?

JOLYON MAUGHAM:

Of course, vulpine-averse QC, Jo Maugham, had much to say about the ruling.

He does not appear to share the concerns of the judges regarding the experimental nature of puberty blockers, the lack of any robust evidence as to their efficacy or the absence of even the most basic data on the children who have been prescribed them.

But he is concerned with offering advice to parents who intend taking their children abroad to pump them full of untested drugs.

Even more crassly, Maugham’s “Good Law Project” has re-opened its funding page (closed for the briefest hiatus following the ruling), the intention of which is to facilitate minors being prescribed puberty blockers more quickly.

Outside of the usual suspects, other reactions to the High Court ruling proved exactly why it is so important. (Guess online social contagion isn’t just limited to teenagers.)

“I don’t want to risk a referral to social services…”

Thank you to Keira Bell, Mrs A and everyone who assisted and supported them. You have saved countless children from a nightmare.

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