The accidental vindication of Doctor Az Hakeem
Patrick Strudwick botches a hitjob, by Dennis Kavanagh
This is one of those great blunders trans rights activists can’t help making.
I met Doctor Az Hakeem and Stella O’Malley (who is being smeared in a similar way in Ireland by the deeply dishonest Mick Barry) only this Friday along with some other fascinating people, Helen Joyce, and Heather Brunskell Evans among them, and while he couldn’t tell us about the patient that Strudwick had interviewed without breaking doctor-patient confidentiality, he did let us know that Strudwick’s hitjob was coming. He seemed entirely nonplussed about it…carefree, I would say, and now I know why.
Poor old Patrick Strudwick has, along with Nancy Kelly, proved that basic talking therapy would be made illegal in the world that they’re fighting for. I was about to explain all this in a post when I saw that Dennis Kavanagh had already written the piece. He very kindly gave me permission to re-publish it here.
That’s TWO gay people of colour whose livelihoods Stonewall have now targeted. And as to Dennis’s contention that Doctor Az has a credible legal claim to make against Nancy Kelly, I want to use this opportunity to tell the doctor that the second I tweeted about a Pink News story accusing me of supporting conversion therapy, they took it down, without even the need of a solicitor’s letter. Nancy Kelly has made a grave mistake.
Anyway, over to Dennis!
Must be an interesting gig being Stonewall’s lawyer, certainly not one lacking in excitement or “challenges” as they say. That was my reaction, at least, to this statement from the CEO on Sunday. It’s the gender borg queen in full cancellation mode attacking a (surprise surprise) homosexual man on the basis of an article that conveniently appears just at the point where it might serve her political interests. As will become clear, this amateur hour defamation is dubious in the extreme and one doesn’t have to dabble in conspiracies to regard the timing as deeply suspicious. As I’ll demonstrate, this has the appearance of a coordinated hatchet job and for Her Majesty here to describe it in the terms she has done is what us lawyers would describe as “unwise”.
The political background
For anyone new to this issue, Stonewall are currently furious that the British Government accepted arguments made by organisations like the Gay Men’s Network, Sex Matters, Transgender Trend etc. regarding the misleadingly called “conversion therapy ban”. The nub of it is basically this: gay conversion therapy has a long (and deeply saddening) history, it happens infrequently now (thank goodness) but there’s nothing wrong in principle with banning it particularly in the case of young gay people facing conversion therapy practices often carried out overseas. (I should add though I personally know about five lads who’ve been through this awful experience both here in the UK and the USA).
“Trans conversion therapy” is by contrast not a thing. Patients presenting with gender dysphoria can and should have access to high quality talking therapies so a “ban” in these circumstances would simply criminalise therapists trying to help vulnerable young people who in the main grow up gay. The point is essentially this: conversion therapy by gender is still conversion therapy and these bans world wide have seen gender non-conforming children mass medicalised by doctors scared of prosecution.
We weren’t alone in this concern, the statutory regulator for the Equality Act, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the following in their response:
“We are supportive of measures to end harmful conversion therapy practices, but the likely significant and wide-ranging implications of the Government’s proposals for a legislative ban for criminal and civil justice, clinicians and therapists, families and religious organisations require careful and detailed consideration. The consultation document contains no clear definition of what will amount to “conversion therapy” caught by its proposals, nor of the meaning of “transgender” – a term which has no clear legal meaning, is potentially wider than the concept of gender reassignment in current UK law, and is understood by different people in different ways.
Nor does the consultation address the possible need to consider a differentiated approach in relation to sexual orientation and being transgender so as to ensure, in particular, that clinicians and therapists are not prohibited from providing appropriate care and support for individuals with gender dysphoria. Given the documented lack of evidence about conversion therapy in relation to being transgender, recent attention and litigation on the implications of medical and surgical transition, and the ongoing NHS-commissioned independent review of gender identity services for children and young people led by Dr Hilary Cass OBE, we consider that these matters require further careful and detailed consideration before legislative proposals are finalised and the implications of them can be fully understood.”
As you can see, strategically this left the gender borg with two significant problems. First, they could point to no evidence of anything outside therapy that might constitute a social harm. Second, various organisations has cottoned onto the fact the ban had potentially disastrous implications for the free exercise of clinical judgment. (Let us just put to one side that Stonewall is in theory a gay rights charity and you might think it would be concerned by homophobia being identified as a safeguarding risk at gender clinics. The truth of the matter is Stonewall has no concern for young gay people facing that life changing and deeply damaging risk and is now obsessed with biology denial to the point it’s taken leave of it’s senses.
It’s important to recognise what a hammer blow the government’s decision to break apart the CT ban was. Everywhere else in the world this trick has worked, the gender borg have snuck “trans conversion therapy” bans onto statute books leaving the mostly kids who play with the wrong toys staring down the barrel of life long medicalisation. The UK Campaign to protect young gay people was unprecedented and while there’s still a way to go, we should all be proud of what we’ve achieved.
How do you solve a problem like having no evidence?
Anyway, what do you do if you have no evidence for your claim and no way of answering the charge this is just going to lead to the harassment of doctors?
Well, if you’re deeply, deeply stupid I guess the answer is you publicly scout around for stories (remember this is after a demand for legislation was made, not before)
In due course, efforts such as this resulted in the article Kelly links to in her tweet, you can read it for yourself here. What becomes painfully clear in the article is that Dr. Az appears to have done no more than any reasonable therapist/psychiatrist would have done, namely interrogate a claim to a gender identity at odds with the biological sex of the patient presumably because, I don’t know, maybe a whole lifetime of medicalisation or irreversible surgery is sort of a big thing maybe? With decades working in the medicine in the field of mental health, Clive does a much better job than I ever could breaking down the quotes in the article and pointing out why the reported questions are entirely appropriate and responsible.
His excellent video is here:
Above: Clive, the second best thing on YouTube after lol fail videos
As Clive’s video suggests, us gay men are frankly less than impressed at seeing Kelly go after a fellow gay man and some excellent threads in response have been penned today, Malcolm Clarke of LGB Alliance’s here and Hassan Mamdani of the Gay Men’s Network here to name but two. Let us be under no illusions as to what is really going on here, for those who don’t know. Dr. Az believes in biological reality and is not afraid to speak eloquently and clearly as to what is really going on in gender clinics. His real crime, and the reason he’s being targeted by the gender borg on cancel mode is that he won’t simply shut up and leave young gay people to the terrible prospect of gay conversion by gender. If you haven’t heard him before, I highly recommend it, here he is speaking at the LGB Alliance conference:
Above: Dr. Az Hakeem (around 1.02) being erudite, morally forceful, decent and pretty damned attractive in my view, should definitely be the next Bond
Back to the law
Given Clive, Hassan and Malcolm have shredded this amateur hour cancel-job the most useful thing I can do it return from whence I came, namely, to the subject of that tweet.
Above: Sort of thing that gives us poor lawyers sleepless nights
The borg may be great at assimilating people, repeating mantras and body modification but I really don’t rate them on the law of libel or the law generally for the following reasons.
In stating that the subject of the article is “conversion practices targeting trans people” the clear and obvious meaning is that Dr. Az is so practicing.
Such practices are soon to become criminal offences in the case of gay people.
Further, or alternatively, such practices would at the very least amount to serious medical malpractice.
The meaning is therefore that the subject is a criminal or as close to one as makes little difference.
Calling someone a criminal and accusing them of medical practice amounting to a criminal offence can only do “serious harm” to a reputation.
Linking the article to a campaign to effectively cause gay conversion by gender obliterates any potential fair comment defence. You are saying people need the protection of the criminal law from a professional. Professionals have money. This may be deeply unwise.
Beyond this, no debate, unfettered access to the corridors of power and cancelling people leaves the gender borg pretty arrogant and ill equipped for adult society. If I were the lawyer for Stonewall I would also be gently making the following points to her majesty:
It is wholly inappropriate to comment on any sort of ongoing proceedings.
There are no findings of fact in this case by the GMC and the proceedings are sub judice
The subject of any investigation could argue you are pushing a political agenda in public and running the risk of potentially influencing an independent tribunal
The Charity Commission may well regard that as rather eccentric as should the trustees of Stonewall
Stonewall have become increasingly erratic of late not least in reporting the EHRC to a UN Committee with the help of ongoing legal sitcom character actors “The Good Laugh Project”. That committee contains Uganda (not a haven of gay rights) and latterly Russia (also not a great place for us gays). Even they found the approach odd and told Stonewall and comedy pals to go away. What we see here is that the more and more Stonewall face embarrassment and defeat at every turn, they more and more turn on their own community. Last week they were in court facing off against lesbian and gay rights hero Allison Bailey, on Sunday their CEO goes for a homosexual man.
Gratifyingly, the whole thing seems to be backfiring, Dr. Az is enjoying enormous support on social media and (as people cleverer than me have pointed out), this episode demonstrates that the original Stonewall position of “Of course we don’t want to criminalise talking therapies” was merely their standard level of mendacity.