The UK is changing official guidance, creating a difficult and hostile environment for trans children. The most significant change comes in the section on hormone therapy. The NHS guidance used to say:
If your child has gender dysphoria and they’ve reached puberty, they could be treated with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues. These are synthetic (man-made) hormones that suppress the hormones naturally produced by the body.
The effects of treatment with GnRH analogues are considered to be fully reversible, so treatment can usually be stopped at any time…
Now there is an unevidenced citation that "little is known about the long term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria". However, there are more issues at heart when considering this rather loose statement. Firstly, there is an array of hormone blockers available, as every trans person who has talked with other trans people can attest.
The NHS site makes a cursory mention of GnRHa's, which works directly on the pituitary gland, however, there's also spironolactone, cyproterone acetate, and finasteride - to name a few. But for argument's sake, let's say they just made on oversight and were imprecise about their wording and assume that they just meant GnRHa's. GnRHa's are also used for the treatment of precocious puberty. Let's look at what the NHS says about this identical drug used for precocious puberty:
Well, fancy that. No mention at all about the dangers of their use and no advice about the long term effects. The test for equality is always about whether the same is said about a drug or medication in two situations. For example, something like a steroid medication would have the same advice given, no matter the reason for the prescription. So why is gender dysphoria treated differently? Well, we know as trans people that online hate groups have been trying to dismantle healthcare for trans adults and children, and have been challenging, and threatening most areas which support trans affirmative care. The easy option is always to bow to the pressure, rather than understanding that the source of such concerns isn't the welfare of children - rather the attempted systematic removal of essential healthcare for trans people. Using frightening language like this might deter some parents from allowing their children to access treatments essential for their wellbeing. The cost to trans children of undergoing puberty which permanently changes their body is both social: to society as a whole for expensive extra treatments such as a tracheal shave or chest reconstruction, and to the mental wellbeing of these young people, who, knowing treatment was available to help them, but might be powerless to access this treatment due to fearmongering of anti-trans pressure groups.
Now let's look at the House of Commons briefing paper: Number 08969, 16 July 2020
"Gender recognition and the rights of transgender people".
In it, 6 pages were removed relating to trans children, with no reference to the revisions. If we look at the side by side comparison of the content pages of the pre- and post- revision edits, we can clearly see the difference. The previous edit is on the left, the edited version on the right.
The parliamentary brief is particularly significant, as it comes at a time when the rights of trans people are to be decided - with Liz Truss making the forthcoming announcement on the 21st July - less than 1 week away. So, I hear you say, what has been removed?
ALL references regarding transphobia in schools and the need to protect trans children. That's right. All references to trans children needing safeguarding protections, including from bullying and harassment have been altered. Screenshots below show a side by side comparison:
It represents significant safeguarding concerns for trans children to be under-represented in such an important political document. Trans children's welfare must be a consideration: being a particularly vulnerable demographic - both to transphobic bullying, the effects of non-supportive teachers and families, and the sensitivity of gendered spaces for such children. Leaving them out of a significant document like this gives perpetrators of abuse a chance to significantly affect the lives and livelihoods of trans children. Erasing these details erases highly important aspects of their lives and represents a significant, and deliberate oversight.