A psychologist, who worked at the UK’s only clinic that offer sex-change services to children, has raised serious concerns about the work conducted at the facility.
Kirsty Entwistle was a clinician working at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) in Leeds, which is operated by the “Tavistock Centre” — a London-based clinic that offers services to young people who are thinking about transitioning to a different gender.
The publicly-funded clinic is “for children and young people, and their families, who experience difficulties in the development of their gender identity,” and is “the only one of its kind in Great Britain,” according to its website.
Now, however, as it takes on a soaring number of young patients, the facility has come under increased scrutiny.
In a damning open letter written to Tavistock’s service director, Dr. Polly Carmichael, Entwistle said she sought to outline her grave “concerns” surrounding the ongoing work of GIDS — including dishonesty on behalf of clinicians as to the wide-ranging impact gender transition can have on young people.
“I think it is a problem that GIDS clinicians are making decisions that will have a major impact on children and young people’s bodies and on their lives, potentially the rest of their lives, without a robust evidence base,” Entwistle boldly declared.
In addition, the psychologist noted that workers were constantly assuring children and their families that the administering of puberty blockers, and the effects thereof, are “fully reversible.” The reality, however, is that the effects of these drugs are still not fully understood.
“GIDS clinicians tell children and families that puberty blockers/hormone blocks are “fully reversible” but the reality is no one knows what the impacts are on children’s brains so how is it possible to make this claim?” Entwistle wrote.
Despite the false assertions being made by staff, the clinician noted that staff were afraid to question the clinic’s work out of a fear of being labeled “transphobic.”
“It is also a problem that GIDS clinicians are afraid of raising their concerns for fear of being labelled transphobic by colleagues,” Entwistle wrote. The psychologist also gave some damning examples of instances when she was ridiculed for raising legitimate questions about the work being undertaken.
“Shortly after starting at GIDS I was in a meeting with three other GIDS clinicians. I said that it was curious to me that there had been so little discussion on gender identity in the field of psychology,” she wrote, adding that the lack of psychiatric research into gender identity was bizarre, considering the prominence of the issue in today’s culture. As such, in a meeting, Entwistle asserted that the issued had “come out of the blue.”
As a result, the psychologist was labeled as “transphobic” by one of her colleagues, “X.” Why? Because she was asking critical questions about the nature of conducting medical work which has little to no evidential basis — work which also has a profound impact on the lives of young people.
At a later date, the same colleague lied to senior staff about Entwistle’s assertions.
“Several weeks later when X and I had a joint meeting with senior staff X claimed that in the above meeting I had said that transgenderism was a trait of personality disorder. I had said nothing of the sort,” she explained. “I have never thought transgenderism is a kind of personality disorder and would never have said this.”
Indeed, when Entwistle suggested that her colleague was far too quick in prescribing puberty blockers to a pair of young patients, she was again met with accusations from her co-worker.
Any dissent came with the threat of being labeled “transphobic” — something that Entwistle said “causes clinicians to feel anxious about raising concerns.”
Concerns not being taken seriously
Above all, Entwistle said that she aims to, through her open letter, shine a light on the inherent issues surrounding medical transition. And she is not alone. With their concerns not being taken seriously in the clinical arena, many psychologists are approaching the press in order to get their message out there.
“Polly, as I’m sure you know very well, Clinical Psychologists are not known for going to the press but several former GIDS clinicians have done so anonymously,” Entwistle wrote. “I cannot think of another time when Clinical Psychologists have gone to the press about concerns for the welfare of the children in their service, you have to take them seriously.”
‘Not allowed’ to suggest early trauma may cause desire to transition
One key criticism raised by Entwistle was in relation to the lack of attention given to the link between early experiences and the desire to undergo a gender transition.
“There are children who have had very traumatic early experiences and early losses who are being put on the medical pathway without having explored or addressed their early adverse experiences,” she wrote.
“At GIDS no one directly tells you that you’re not allowed to suggest that perhaps these early experiences might be connected to a child’s wish to transition but if you make the mistake of suggesting this in a team meeting you run the risk of being called transphobic.”
Entwistle added that she “went to work at GIDS expecting to do complex assessments and differential diagnosis” but that the “reality is that you run the risk of being called transphobic if you propose that, say, a child might have Body Dysmorphia rather than Gender Dysphoria.”
Instead, even if the child’s psychiatric background suggests otherwise, there is often a blanket-diagnosis of “transgender” made by clinic staff. It is “highly unlikely that any child presenting there will be told that they are not transgender,” Entwistle added.
The psychologist added that there was an “unspoken rule” among staff which prevented clinicians from reassuring parents that their child was “not transgender.”
“I frequently voiced my concern that colleagues were not seeing abandonment/estrangement by a parent as an indicator of complexity. For me, this was another reason that made me feel so disoriented. In my Clinical Psychology training and in other services the loss of or abandonment by a parent would be something to be explored and the impact understood but I felt that at GIDS this factor was often minimised or dismissed. “
Mermaids: ‘no proper scrutiny of its practice’
Entwistle also raised concerns over the number of referrals made by “Mermaids” — a British-based lobby group which advocates for gender transition amongst children.
The psychologist said she was “concerned to see that Mermaids continues to receive financial support and endorsements from high profile people whilst not being subjected to any proper scrutiny of its practice.”
Recently, vicar and Church of England school governor, Rev. John Parker, was forced to resign after Mermaids conducted a trans education training session with school staff and refused to let Parker share his own views.
“I believe a real threat is posed to schools from organisations such as Mermaids. They implement a new ideological tyranny – and any disagreement is at best silenced, and at worst, punished,” Parker told advocacy group, Christian Concern.
More support for de-transitioners
Entwistle urged that more support is needed for those who have sought to “de-transition” after undergoing medical gender reassignment at a young age.
“Many of these young people talk about feeling as though they have been in a cult and that they did not have access to any information or responses other than the affirmative approach,” she wrote.
Entwistle urged her former boss “to look up the stories of “detransitioners” (currently mostly American and Canadian young people) who report that they were not offered differential diagnosis of their gender dysphoria and that they were either coerced into medical transition or were not mentally well enough to give informed consent.”
“I believe it is only a matter of time before we start to hear similar stories from British young people and that there needs to be a service available to give them support,” she concluded.