Shutting down Tavistock gender clinic is not the victory the Right thinks it is.
When it was announced on Thursday that the NHS will be shutting down a children’s gender identity development service (not a noun I ever thought I would use), the Sophie Corcorans of the world jumped onto Twitter claiming this as a victory in keeping children away from trans ideology. However, what those so keen to jump on the celebratory bandwagon fail to recognise is that the reason that this clinic is being shut down is not because it was over-providing its services, but the fact that it was seen to be under-providing them.
While there have been some concerns raised about the overdiagnosis of gender dysphoria, the main reason for the service being shut down has been due to concerns of under provision. The number of referrals to gender specialists across the country has increased from around 140 in 2010, to around 2,300 in 2020. Whereas in the past gender dysphoria mostly affected men who believed themselves to be women, the inverse is now true, and much of the additional referrals come from teenage girls; the same group who are targeted by all others who seek to create a groupthink craze. These stretch from the relatively harmless, like One Direction fans back in the day, to the magazines promoting anorexia in the 90’s – and in the true spirit of throwing the baby out with the bathwater – the same publications now using Tess Holloway to promote ‘health at any size’.
Because of the immense increase in referrals, waiting times to be seen at Tavistock are now five years. According to Hillary Cass, who was tasked with reviewing the service and writing a report which was published this spring, the service was under ‘unsustainable pressure’, with the long wait times causing patients considerable ‘distress’ and ‘declining mental health’. While the right picked up the quote that the clinic was ‘not safe’ for children, they failed to see that the reason this was claimed is that their supposed needs were being ignored, as opposed to being sated.
What this argument seems to ignore is that long wait times are good and necessary when dealing with children with no medically urgent needs. Given the number of young adults seeking to de-transition (aka reverse the alterations done to their bodies during their adolescence), forcing those seeking such services to have a long wait period to consider the permanence and impact of such a decision is an entirely sensible policy. In accordance with the government’s focus on levelling up, a new network of ‘regional hubs’ is being planned to replace Tavistock, despite the fact that for someone in Birmingham or Manchester seeking such a service, the need to make a trip to London may make them consider whether or not their reasons for doing so are legitimate.
However, the long wait times that have been tacit government policy for decades (and quite successfully, given the negligible numbers of de-transitions until very recently) are now being undermined by private providers with even fewer scruples than the NHS. Given that upper middle-class children of guardian-reading intellectuals are most likely to want to transition in the first place, there has been an increase in private provision of cross sex hormones and surgery, as well as an increase in people going abroad for cheaper surgeries. In order to gain the Brownie points of ‘supporting their trans child’, the parents will do whatever is necessary to fast-track their child’s transition without giving them the chance to change their mind.
In conclusion, shutting down Tavistock is not a victory for conservatives but a loss. The ideologically driven medicine that was once contained in London for those determined enough to make the journey will now be spread out across the country in order to reach more and more children. If the government keeps allowing supply to grow to keep up with the supposed demand, we will end up with a generation where fewer and fewer young people have healthy bodies, and even fewer with healthy minds. However, the worst offenders in creating this contagion among young girls is TikTok and an educational culture which defines its role as helping children ‘unlearn’ their biases, as opposed to learning the realities of the world: until this changes, nothing will.