So your child thinks they might be transgender? Part 1 – information for parents

Information and resources for parents of trans-identified kids.

Part 1 – information

Firstly, this article isn’t going to tell you what I think you should do, because I don’t know what you should do. I don’t know you; I don’t know your child or your family situation.  Appropriate decisions, approaches and solutions will be different for every family.

Not everyone reading this will have a child who believes that they have a brain/body mismatch, but most of you will know a child, or know of a child who identifies as trans or non-binary.

There are lots of articles out there telling us that these children should always be affirmed. They advise parents: tell your daughter she’s now your son; tell your son that yes, he’s a girl. You won’t have any trouble finding those pieces: organisations with hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding behind them perpetuate these ideas in schools and in the press, encouraging children to believe it is possible for a girl to grow up into a man, or for a boy to become a woman.

It can be hard to access information that questions this narrative. The affirmation model is new, and transition is not always a cure-all for the mental health issues that often accompany it.

Again, I am not trying to tell you what you should do.

I didn’t affirm my child. I told her I didn’t believe a boy could be born in a girl’s body and I didn’t believe that a girl could become a boy. I told her that idea was founded on regressive notions of sexism and stereotyping. This will not be the right approach for everyone and only you can decide how you’re going to proceed.

It might seem like an obvious thing to say but the most important thing is to keep channels of communication open and let your child know they are loved.

Let’s start with what I do know.

I do know how I felt when my 15 year old daughter handed me a piece of paper with “I’m transgender” written on it. In her mind at the time there was no doubt. She was certain that she was a boy somehow born into a girl’s body.  What I felt wasn’t disgust, or anger, or disappointment, it was concern for my child and what the future might hold for her. It was overwhelming love, and sadness that she felt such confusion that she believed herself to be a boy and held such revulsion for her body that she believed she didn’t belong in it.  Rejecting her was something that never crossed my mind.

I do know that most of the information I found online told me that it was essential to agree with her that she was a boy, use her ‘preferred pronouns’, find her a gender therapist and consider enabling access to puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries. To question this solution or consider other options was viewed as hateful: it was bigotry, it was transphobia. It was ‘conversion therapy’.

I do know that about nine months after she told me that she was actually a boy, my daughter desisted, and that in her own words:

I do know that my response to her feelings played only a part in her desistence and that it was a decision she came to on her own after a lot of soul searching.

You can read our story here. There is an increasing number of young people in the UK who are speaking out about desistence and detransition and I link to some of their voices later in this piece.

I do know that there has been an explosion in the numbers of children (aged 3-17) presenting to the GIDS (Gender Identity & Development Service) in the last decade. Referrals over the last nine years increased from 97 (2009/10) to 2590 (2018/19). Over 1,500 of these most recent referrals were aged 14-16.


There are important questions to be asked and discussions to be had, concerning both child autonomy and child safeguarding, and the current political climate does not support this debate.

This is an article in two parts. Part one is an introduction, dealing with some of the key topics surrounding trans-identified young people. The trans-train has many carriages, so bear with me while we take a little trip through them.

The second part of the article, which will be published separately, contains resources, websites, podcasts and videos that deal with the potential problems with transition and the issues that are so often swept under the table in the rush to affirm a child’s gender identity.


The increase in trans-identified young people

More young people than ever are identifying as transgender.  This graph, which covers the last ten years, is based on the Tavistock GIDS own figures. You can check them yourself. Here is the data from 2009/10 to 2015/16 and here is the data from 2017/18.

You may be surprised that more concern is not being raised about these figures. So am I.

Some people claim that prior to recently, young people did not ‘have the words’ to explain that they were trans, and that explains the increase.

Many children who identify as trans have previously come out as lesbian or gay. Many have social media addictions, some are high achievers or on the autistic spectrum. Some self-harm, some have been sexually abused.  Some suffer from depression or other mental health issues. All or none of these factors may be present. Some therapists see transition as a ‘cure all’ for many of these other issues. Others are concerned that gay or lesbian children are being offered transition as a ‘cure’ for their own internalised homophobia, or for other problems, and that transition is merely putting a plaster over a wound.

Many believe social contagion plays a huge part in the increase, via the pressures of social media and the increased online sexualisation of girls. Groups such as Mermaids now go into schools and tell kids as young as five that we all have an innate ‘gender identity’. Children are told that they can choose whether to be a girl or a boy. Some groups claim that if you don’t have a gender identity it’s because you’re happy with the one you were ‘assigned at birth’, which is indeed a Catch 22 situation. I write about this extensively elsewhere on my blog, in ‘but nobody is encouraging kids to be trans!’.


Traditionally, the very small number of trans-identified children were almost entirely boys, who suffered gender dysphoria from early childhood. That pattern has changed and, as you can see on the graph above, girls now make up the vast majority of referrals.

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) occurs when a child who has shown no prior signs of believing themselves to be ‘born in the wrong body’ suddenly identifies as transgender at or around puberty.

Despite many young people, and even more parents, having reported experience of ROGD, most groups established to help transgender young people staunchly refuse to acknowledge its existence, insisting that if a child says they are trans then they are trans, and that a refusal to accept this is harmful and abusive.

This does not explain the existence of detransitioners, nor the desistence rates of up to 80% that have been traditionally noted in children attending GIDS and other clinics.

To dismiss parents who observe ROGD in their own children by claiming they simply hadn’t noticed prior signs that their child was trans- that the child had kept it secret from them or even that the child themselves hadn’t realised- is simplistic and unlikely. This argument is grounded in the idea of bad or inadequate parenting and assumes a closed and unproductive relationship with the child.

Academic Lisa Littman, Assistant Professor of the Practice at the Brown University School of Public Health, carried out a study on ROGD in 2018.  You can read an interview with Littman, where she discusses her work and the response to it, here.


You can read my own ROGD article here.


Social media and the internet

Where to begin with the omniscient power of social media? Those of us over thirty may have trouble understanding the extent to which it monopolises the lives of many young people who have never known a world without it. Some of us may understand it better than we would like to admit.

Online you can be whoever you choose to be: a better, shinier, idealised you. Online you can easily create the identity of your choice and most kids spend so much time online that it is hardly surprising the boundaries between real life and virtual life become blurred.

This is a state of hyperreality,  which describes as “an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced post-modern societies.”

There are plenty of young people their own age ready to cheer them on, on Instagram and other platforms.

You don’t even have to feel you should have been born the opposite sex:  you can join the gender fluid, who sometimes feel like boys and sometimes like girls, or the non binary who feel neither like boys or girls…

How are these kids computing what a boy or a girl is supposed to feel like? Which boy or girl? On what day? What stereotypes are these decisions being based upon?

When I typed ‘how many genders’ into Google, the top hit of the six hundred and thirty one million that it threw up in less than a second told me this:

“There are more than two genders… gender isn’t about someone’s anatomy, it is about who they know them self to be. There are many different gender identities, including male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, and all, none or a combination of these.”

So there we have it. Oh, wait, there’s more.

“There are many more gender identities then we’ve listed. Gender can be complex…”

It seems it can, and it certainly isn’t just youngsters worshiping at the temple of the gender fairy.

Mermaids speculated on Twitter earlier this year that there might be eight billion genders. Just imagine! More genders than people on the planet!

Earlier this year it was also confirmed that Mermaids had been awarded a £500,000 ‘Reaching Communities’ grant from the National Lottery.

“Mermaids provides trans-inclusive diversity training to schools, organisations, health professionals, public bodies and private companies.” proclaims the Mermaids website.

Even the government’s own Office for National Statistics (ONS) is playing the gender game. It has this to say on the subject:

“Growing numbers of people are identifying as somewhere along a continuum between man and woman, or as non-gendered (neither man nor woman)an individual may see themselves as a man, a woman, as having no gender, or as having a non-binary gender – where people identify as somewhere on a spectrum between man and woman“.

Confused? Don’t worry.


YouTube is full of ‘my transition timeline’ videos with thousands of hits, where trans-identified youngsters celebrate the glory of their new lives.  “My FtM Top Surgery Consultation At 14!” for example, has over 52,000 views and comments such as, ‘You look so masculine and your voice is so deep. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come‘ and others bemoaning how their ‘unsupportive parents’ won’t cough up the necessary cash. Tips on how to dress to pass better FTM’ has 86,000 views and comments include ‘don’t wear red flannel, u will be mistaken for a lesbian’ and ‘your voice is so deep! I’m jealous’. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ash Hardel’s video ‘Calling my mom to tell her I’m trans‘ has – wait for it – over twelve million views.

You can read more about the power of social media influencers in my post ‘but nobody’s encouraging kids to be trans!’.

If you think your child is spending too much time online, encourage them to switch off and spend more time in touch with the physical world. I know that can be easier said than done. Can you go on a long walk with your child, or even an outdoor holiday? Can they leave their phone plugged in in the hall at bedtime?  Can you turn off the wifi at night?  Ask your child to think over the course of a few days about how going online really makes them feel. Some studies suggest that most of us feel more anxious after spending time on social media.

A September 2019 study of over 6,000 American teenagers showed that those who spent more than three hours a day on social media were ‘more likely to develop mental health problems including depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior’.


Child suicides are thankfully incredibly rare. The idea that trans-identified children will kill themselves if not transitioned is irresponsibly promoted on television, on websites, in interviews and perpetuated by the media and transgender ‘support’ groups.   It is almost as if the idea of suicide ideation is marketed to confused and unhappy children as a bargaining and silencing tool and an essential facet of a trans-identity. Such reporting contravenes Samaritans guidelines, whose research shows links between media coverage of suicide and increases in suicidal behaviour.

You can read Transgender Trend’s piece ‘Suicide Facts and Mythshere.

If a young person is threatening suicide there are likely to be multiple reasons. If you feel your child may be suicidal, seek help as soon as possible from a professional who is willing to look at the bigger picture. Help for suicidal thoughts should be sought from counsellors trained specifically in this area.

Social transition

There have been nearly a dozen studies undertaken into gender dysphoria and desistance. Current evidence suggests that following the traditional path of ‘watchful waiting’ around 80% of children outgrow gender dysphoria by the end of puberty, and that many grow up to be lesbian or gay. The new fashion is for ‘affirmation’, changing pronouns and perpetuating the idea that a girl is actually a boy or vice versa.

Is social transition more likely to lead to a child following the route of puberty blockers, which almost inevitably lead to cross sex hormones and potential sterility?


“For some families the social transition can work as a kind of ‘it’s all going to be fine’ and actually the system is way more complicated than that.”

Dr Bernadette Wren, Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock

“We have never recommended complete social transitioning” said Polly Carmichael of GIDS, “but it has become a really popular thing and many advocacy groups really promote it.”


Earlier this year, five clinicians resigned from the Tavistock, asserting that charities such as Mermaids were having a harmful effect by allegedly promoting transition as a cure-all solution for confused adolescents.

We are told that children as young as six are attending school ‘incognito’ as the opposite sex. This is especially concerning in the light of one study which suggests that children up to the age of seven may believe that a boy who puts on a dress literally becomes a girl. Can children this young really understand the concept of ‘gender identity’?

“It is beyond children’s cognitive abilities to understand the biological impossibility of a male child growing up to become an adult woman or a female child growing up to become an adult man, that a ‘girl’ is not who you are, but what you are and that no amount of medical innovation can change the biological reality.” writes Davies-Arai.

“Unquestioning affirmation of a child’s belief is not a neutral act of kindness, but an active intervention that shapes and changes a child’s understanding and development. Affirmation by trusted adults forms or reinforces a child’s perception of reality. Living, and being affirmed daily as the opposite sex will affect and change the child’s developing sense of self, which risks creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.”

Some GIDS psychologists assert that parents risk psychologically damaging their children by allowing them to socially transition. Others fear schools are rushing to allow pupils to change their names, uniforms and gender pronouns as soon as they “got a whisper that a child might be querying their identity”.

“Where are the parents in all of this?” asks Madeline Kearns in the Spectator“They are often not told if their child is worried about their gender. During my (teacher) training, we were told to avoid ‘outing’ potential transgender children to their families. If the child so wished, we might want to keep mummy and daddy out of the loop.”

“There is no way that professionals can possibly pass on concerns… without being considered transphobic or bigoted,”  a Child Protection officer told Jo Bartosh. “Many of us share the same concerns… I see children changing their name, turning against their family, rewriting their past.”

While GIDS clinicians concur that children should be allowed to explore behaviours more usually associated with the opposite sex (such as clothing or types of play) many agree that actions such as changing a child’s pronouns and affirming a child in the idea that they can ‘change gender’ can be harmful.  They warn that ‘to formally socially transition before puberty risks pre-determining the outcome’.

If you aren’t letting your child cut/grow their hair and dress (within reason) in clothes they choose themselves, ask yourself why not? If you’re forcing your daughter to do ballet, or your son to play football, encouraging a girl with no interest in performing femininity to “make herself pretty” or berating a sensitive boy to “man up”, this may be part of the problem.  Gender roles are everywhere and often we don’t even consciously notice them. While many people slip fairly happily into the behaviours and clothing choices society expects from them, many don’t.  And that’s just fine. There are plenty of happy, successful and super-cool people who don’t ‘perform masculinity or femininity’.  Sometimes, but not always, they’re gay.

“Trans the gay away”

While some trans advocacy groups accuse parents who don’t affirm their child’s transition of conversion therapy, many of us see the opposite as true. People who feel their gods may have a problem with homosexuality, or who feel uncomfortable with it themselves, may feel more comfortable with a ‘born in the wrong body’ narrative. Converting your gay child into a straight trans child may seem a viable option, especially if the idea is instigated by the child itself.

Many trans people report that their parents and peers were unhappy with their inability to perform the gender stereotypes required of their sex. Sometimes they had homophobic parents or they themselves hated the idea of being gay.  Paris Lees (MTF) says he was bullied at school for being ‘too weak to fight back’ and that his dad mocked his accent and accused him of “talking like a poof“. Munroe Bergdorf (MTF) called one of his Twitter followers a “hairy barren lesbian” and expressed a desire to ‘gay bash’ a TV star. Alex Bertie (FTM) told Janice Turner of the Times. “I was known as the ‘weird lesbian girl’ and nobody would speak to me… my sexuality tainted their perception of me entirely”. After declaring herself a boy she found, “suddenly, my teachers looked out for me in class.”

In an article in the METRO this month, transactivist Owl writes,“I was six years old when I was first told I was a sissy, because I threw a basketball ‘like a girl,” causing academic Susan Matthews to observe  that the idea of ‘throwing like a girl’ is a misogynist comment that also hurts girls. Embracing the stereotypes, such as ‘girls throw basketballs badly’ seems to be at the heart of an ideology which goes nowhere without emphasis on clothing, hair and make up choices; which hobbies someone enjoys and how bad or good they are at certain things.

One of the clinicians who recently resigned from the Tavistock recently told the Times  “many children decided they wanted to change gender after suffering homophobic bullying”.

Strong Lesbian Role Models

Our culture is still incredibly homophobic and hetronormative. When mainstream TV series do celebrate lesbians they can be amazing- but they are always pretty, skinny and pert: think Willow and Tara, Waverley and Nicole, Alex and Maggie.

The media does not celebrate young women who don’t want to play the patriarchy game. They are invisible. Think I’m exaggerating?

Try to think of a famous woman, a good role model for young women, who is a lesbian and doesn’t perform femininity. Most people are stumped.

Then they say “Oh, Ellen Degeneres!”

Degeneres is brilliant, charismatic and talented and has done a great deal to promote lesbian visibility; however she also fronts several ‘beauty campaigns’ as the face of Cover Girl make up and Olay ‘ageless foundation’.

So think again.

Big Boo – IKR

“What about Big Boo in Orange is the New Black?” someone once offered. Lea DeLaria who plays the character is a powerful actress and singer, but they weren’t referring to DeLaria. They were referring to Boo.

Think about that for a moment.

I asked someone to name a strong, gender non-conforming, lesbian role model and the best they could come up with was a prison inmate in an American sit com.

Are we surprised when some of these girls start thinking that maybe they’re boys?


‘Chest binding’, the action of wrapping ones breasts up so tightly that they become less visible, is popular among trans and non-binary-identified girls.

A survey of 1,800 women who bound their breasts showed that 97% of respondents reported at least one negative outcome from binding. Surprisingly, commercial binders were the binding method most consistently associated with negative health outcomes. Young women who identify as trans or non-binary may bind using methods including from cling film and duct tape to wearing multiple too-tight sports bras.

We reject foot binding and chest ironing as barbaric practices, yet some schools enable this process of breast-crushing. Some UK schools have official policies to help girls in this endeavour. While acknowledging that binding ‘may even impair breathing‘, they suggest  ‘short breaks could be offered discreetly’ to ease the discomfort of girls who want to bind their breasts. Even mainstream magazines like Cosmopolitan run articles on ‘how to do it’.

Some of the symptoms reported in the study mentioned above include: back pain, overheating, chest pain, shortness of breath, posture problems, itching, shoulder pains, rib fractures, spine problems, shoulder joint popping, numbness, headaches, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, heartburn, abdominal pain, muscle wasting, digestive issues, breast changes and tenderness, scarring, swelling, acne, coughs &  respiratory infections.

You can read my article Bind Me here.



Bradley in conversation with Soh – see ‘podcasts’ at the end of this article for a link.

Austistic Spectrum Disorder studies in the UK suggest roughly 1% of the child population places somewhere on the autistic spectrum. In the USA approximately 1.7% of children are diagnosed with an ASD. Brugha’s 2009 survey of adults in England found that 1.8% of men and boys surveyed had a diagnosis of autism, compared to 0.2% of women and girls.

Yet almost HALF of trans-identified children seen by GIDS in the UK are on the autistic spectrum.

“Between April 2011 and August 2018, 48% of children and young people who were seen in GIDS and whose parents completed the social responsiveness scale (SRS), a quantitative measure of autistic behaviours in children and young people, scored in the mild to severe range” report Clarke and Spiliadis of the GIDS.

As Jane Galloway observes in her article Autistic Girls, Gender’s Silent Frontier‘:

‘If there was any other connective factor affecting nearly 50% of all children referred to a particular service, there would be huge national interest and attendant press coverage.

“Adolescents by definition, have very little filter, no long term outlook, and a gigantic desire to have their desires indulged right now;” observes Galloway, “not because they are spoilt, but because impulse control and delayed gratification are far off distant concepts when you are a teenager.”

If a child doesn’t ‘feel like a girl’ then it may seem a logical progression to conclude that she must be a boy. Trans-lobby groups guidance does not addresses the issue of autism beyond suggesting  trans-identified autistic children may need to have transition options explained to them more carefully.

The ‘Autism Speakswebsite suggests that encouraging health providers to “use preferred pronouns during an office visit can go a long way toward establishing trust with your (undiagnosed, trans-identified, autistic) child.” Yet many critics feel that the affirmation model may be particularly damaging to autistic children.

Physical transition

In the UK surgeries are not performed on children under the age of 18, and NHS gender clinics have long waiting lists. However, those who are willing to pay privately can access hormones and surgery with relative ease. In the USA and Canada girls as young as 13 have had their breasts removed. Complications with the coyly named ‘top surgery’ are not infrequent. Testosterone has been privately prescribed to girls as young as 12 in the UK. Susie Green, CEO and figurehead of the UK charity ‘Mermaids’ took her child to Thailand where, on his 16th birthday, his male genitalia were crafted into a semblance of a vagina. The minimum age for this operation was changed to eighteen shortly afterwards (the two events were unrelated).

Trans ‘support’ groups in the UK advocate not only for social transition but claim that some of these medical interventions are harmless or reversible.

Susie Green gives out mixed messages on this issue. In 2016 she tweeted “between your ears needs match what’s between your legs. Not your choice.” She has also told newspapers,  “Medical intervention is very important, especially for teenagers who are already in puberty. It’s absolutely vital.”

Yet Mermaids claims to support both ‘trans and gender diverse’ children and according to an Independent article of December 2018,  ‘primarily exists to support the families of trans and gender non-conforming children, not to coordinate their transition. It has no agenda.’

Dr Norman Spack, a paediatric endocrinologist at the Boston Children’s Hospital (USA), who treated Green’s child, has prescribed puberty blockers to ‘about 200 children’.

He believes trans-identified children should be given blockers at the start of puberty, moving on to ‘sex-change’  hormones and surgery. He claims all of these 200 children have moved on to hormones and that ‘no one changes their mind’. He also recognises one of  the more disturbing side effects of this combination:

When young people halt their puberty before their bodies have developed, and then take cross-hormones for a few years, they’ll probably be infertile.

“We don’t reassign a person’s gender,” he told The Guardian, in another interview, “we just acknowledge what it really is and fix it.”

Do these children really need ‘fixing’?

Remember that under the pre-affirmation model of  ‘watchful waiting’ guidelines, around 80% of young people have desisted. It is not such a stretch of the imagination to consider that perhaps an affirmation model – with or without drugs- may be playing a part in fixing the idea of being ‘in the wrong body’ in children’s heads.

Currently around 40% of children seen by the GIDS service go on to take puberty blockers. These drugs are used ‘off label’ and have been linked to problems with bone density. Almost all children who start on puberty blockers go on to take cross-sex hormones. The combination of the two is a recipe for sterile and inorgasmic young people.

You could be the most transgender friendly service in the world and you would still have to consider some very, very grave issues. The timing of puberty suspension, for instance. Whether they can tolerate enough treatment to develop the lower part of the body so they develop physical sensations.Bernadette Wren, GIDS

“Transgender youth may be interested in becoming biological parents, and should be counseled about potential risk of fertility impairment and fertility preservation options before initiation of hormonal or surgical therapies which may impact reproductive potential.” reports the Journal of Paediatrics in an article entitled ‘Understudied and Under-Reported: Fertility Issues in Transgender Youth’.

Dr Michael Biggs, an associate professor at Oxford’s Department of Sociology, has carried out research that suggests that puberty blockers can increase suicidal feelings; after a year of treatment a significant increase was found in female patients self-reporting to staff that they “deliberately try to hurt or kill myself”. Parents also reported “a significant increase in behavioural and emotional problems” and a “significant decrease in physical wellbeing” in these children after a year on medication, he told the Telegraph.

At the WPATH Symposium in Amsterdam in 2016, GIDS (UK) reported  statistics showing that children put on puberty blockers did not desist, as opposed to children not put on blockers, of whom 90% desisted.

The same report said children felt ‘happy and more confident‘ in the first six months on blockers, but after a year reported ‘an increase in internalising problems and body dissatisfaction, especially natal girls’.

“We have shifted to make the treatment (puberty blockers) available earlier and earlier,”  Bernadette Wren of GIDS is quoted as saying in The Guardian“But the earlier you do it, the more you run the risk that it’s an intervention people would say yes to at a young age, but perhaps would not be so happy with when they move into their later adulthood.”

The potential medical complications involved with ‘gender reassignment surgery’ (GRS) are multitudinous.  The procedures- for example ‘skinning’ a female arm or thigh to create a roll of flesh which is attached between the legs to mimic a flaccid penis- are complex and the results are not always as desired.  A boy moves from puberty blockers to cross-sex hormones and then desires vaginoplasty as a young adult, his pre-pubescent penis may not provide enough skin to create the neo-vagina and portions of gut may have to be used.

In one ‘phalloplasty regret‘ video on YouTube, a phalloplasty recipient tells viewers “There’s no erectile ability, there’s no ability to urinate, it’s basically just a piece of tissue sitting there.”

A Swedish study from 2011 suggested that “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.”


Desister Charlie Evans, who has written and spoken about her struggle with gender dysphoria.

There are a growing number of young people, primarily young women, talking about desistance (stopping a social transition) and detransition (stopping a physical transition).


Desister Charlie Evans has recently co-founded the Detransition Advocacy Network in England. Their website is currently under construction. You can read more about it here.

The Pique Resilience Project

The Pique Resilience Project is a  ‘collective of detransitioned & desisted women igniting inspired and nuanced conversation that empowers’All four young women experienced ROGD ‘and subsequently identified as trans men for several of our teenage years. We have all since detransitioned/desisted, and have been able to explore other individual factors that may have caused or exacerbated our dysphoria.”


PART TWO of this article (coming soon) will link to useful groups, resources, articles, studies, videos and podcasts.

Think of it as a little library….


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Hackney ReSisters – Women & Girls Under Attack

“Are you concerned about child safeguarding, safety in prisons, securing the future of women’s sport, single-sex NHS wards, sexism- pay equality?” demanded the leaflet. Well, yes, I am indeed, two tickets please. I arranged to meet Lesley near the venue, dug out my ‘Adult Human Female’ notebook and pen and I was ready to go.

It’s getting colder in London, and darker earlier of course- sunset at 4pm FFS!  By the time I headed out of the house, clad in a coat that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Antarctica, the sky was dark and the streets were illuminated with the premature glare of precocious Christmas lights.

the new venue

Happily munching on a Gregg’s vegan sausage roll and swigging from a flask of warm coffee, I arrived at the place where I thought the meeting was going to take place to find windows shuttered, doors locked and not a soul in sight.

Checked my messages- ah yes, two texts and an email telling me the venue had been changed at the last minute. I texted Lesley (who was stuck in traffic somewhere halfway round the M25) the new postcode, and turned around.

I had plenty of time to retrace my steps to the new venue, where organisers were already busy setting up chairs and recording equipment and covering the windows with newspaper in case any troublemakers turned up (they didn’t).

covering the windows

There was a small cafe at the back of the hall, so I put my bag and coat on two seats in the front row while I grabbed another cup of coffee and a piece of cake.

Each chair sported two leaflets, one from OBJECT and one from Hackney Resisters, the organisers of the event. I admired the artwork on the front of the Resisters leaflet, then turned it over to read the back.



The leaflet laid out the aims of the Resisters and named the night’s speakers: Allison Bailey, barrister and co-founder of the LGB Alliance, and Stephanie Davies-Arai, founder of Transgender Trend and author of ‘Communicating with Kids‘.

By the time the meeting was ready to start there were close to a hundred people in the room, mostly women, and Jan had to call for quiet several times before we fell silent.

I checked my phone quickly. Lesley was still stuck on the motorway.

The venue fills up as we grab coffee and seats before the first speaker.

Jan Williams (left) and Heidi

Jan Williams praised the centre for allowing us to meet there and introduced herself as the Chair of OBJECT  ‘the first mainstream feminist organisation to come out on the trans issue’.

After introducing the ‘three wonderful speakers‘ Jan reminded us that question time was for actual questions, adding that she hoped there would be extra time at the end for discussing what sort of action we could be involved in.

“I’m sure there will be loads of questions and comments: please be brief.” She emphasised the importance of action as well as talk. “It’s very easy to sit here and say ‘this is awful’ but will be much more effective if we co-ordinate and act together for change.”

To much whooping and applause she handed the microphone to Allison Bailey.

Allison Bailey

Allison Bailey, barrister









Bailey is a barrister with almost twenty years experience. She came out as a lesbian at the age of 17 and ‘never imagined I would have to defend the right of women to speak about our rights‘.

The idea that a man should be able to self-identify as a woman is ‘absolute madness‘ and Bailey described Stonewall’s ‘acceptance without exception’ policy as ‘a big sign welcoming every predatory, unhinged man who hates women to come forward with impunity… an obscene violation of our hard-won rights’.

Women & girls need single sex spaces because of the danger that men present to them. De facto self ID is not just happening in prisons and hospitals: Allison also referred to the Canadian  Rape Crisis Centre that lost its funding because it refused to accept ‘male-bodied people’.

The current state of the law in this country is being completely ignored and Bailey has lost count of the times she has seen organisations claiming gender identity is a protected characteristic under current legislation. The result of this is that not just these organisations, but now government departments, are acting as if self-ID is the law.  It is not.

“None of our politicians seem to have the courage to speak up and say this is unacceptable.

The current Labour manifesto has committed to two wholly incompatible aims. To keep single-sex provision but also support the self-declaration of sex.  Bailey says she is left with no idea who to vote for: ‘this feels like a complete stitch up between the parties… there is no real choice being offered’.

Bailey asserts that the many ambitious barristers who made their names on  human rights issues, yet have been silent on this issue, will eventually be called to task for their cowardice.

Male-bodied rapists are not receiving the ‘on your bike’ response one would expect when requesting to be placed in women’s prisons. Allison pointed out that a judge does not blindly accept the word of a violent man protesting his innocence, yet men in prison are demanding to be referred to as women- even placed in women’s prisons- on the basic of nothing more than their own say so. There are no provisions to ensure that sex offenders cannot identify as women and anyone pointing out the danger of this is called transphobic.

Bailey said that her concern was not around transwomen, stating firmly, “I absolutely support the fact that they must live free from discrimination with protection under the law. That isn’t the issue”.

Her concern is about the ‘wickedly devious’ predatory men who would abuse the system.

Crime statistics

Allison emphasised the importance of how we are recording crime. A murmur of agreement ran round the room when she noted that if the recording of male crimes as female carries on, if the police allow self-ID at the point of arrest, we will lose the ability to measure the crime profile of men who transitioned.

“”We’ve now got a massive increase in women committing rape… In England and Wales, rape can only be committed by a penis-haver, yet here we have, reported in the press; reported by police forces in court; female rapists. It is the height of offence. We have the Crown Prosecution Service putting out guidance to say – this is the stuff of nightmares quite frankly – that a male rapist can rape on Monday and by Wednesday when he’s in the Crown Court identify as a woman and the guidance is that everyone must now refer to this person with feminine pronouns.”

Here she asserted that this is currently only guidance, and there can be no compelled speech of that kind at present, quoting Selina Todd: “politics driven by fear are completely at odds with democracy”.

In the course of setting up the LGB Alliance, Allison and others received abuse from some: “the usual stuff that comes along after they say TERF”. She noted that many of those who had seen this happen still insisted that she must ‘keep in a political alliance’ with those who give out that abuse – and that to try to break free from it is to risk losing her job.

She said she received support from people all over the world and that she felt the tide was turning, citing the current cases of Maya Forstater and Harry Miller.

She concluded that movements can enact change very quickly, citing the importance of  putting pressure on our MPs and politicians, and urged those present at the meeting to come out as gender critical.

“You’re going to have to take a licking, but you know what? There’s an army of women that have your back.”


A woman from Haringey Resisters and the Labour Party asked how we can challenge self-identification generally, that people are self-identifying their race, if they’re disabled or autistic, and asked how this could be challenged.

Bailey responded that while her current focus was concerning self-identification of sex, “we have to have laws based on some sort of verifiable reality, otherwise we are lost,” adding, “if anything the GRA needs to be strengthened and not relaxed… because of the cantankerous and mischievous individuals who will abuse it.”

A woman with a legal background asked what steps could be overcome concerning mixed sex toilets in private institutions such as the workplace and Bailey responded that ‘we need to keep going to law’ and challenging policies, suggesting that one ‘well crafted letter’ can often cause an HR department to back down.

A woman expressed her concern that teachers were being encouraged to ‘look out for’ transgender children rather than dealing with the bullying that gender non-conforming children can face. There was speculation as to how the legal position concerning women’s rights, free speech and protected beliefs might move forwards.

I looked round the room and noticed that Lesley had arrived and slipped in at the back. Question time finished, to much applause, and Williams announced the next speaker.

Stephanie Davies-Arai

Stephanie Davies-Arai, author

The Transgender Trend schools packs and three books to which Davies-Arai has contributed chapters.

“Most of you obviously know her already,” Jan responded to the applause, “but for those that don’t, Stephanie is the founder of Transgender Trend.

Walker told us the exciting news that Transgender Trend is about to  publish its first book for early years children, called ‘My Body is Me’.

Stephanie was going to talk about the particular harms to girls caused by self-ID, and her talk would be accompanied by slides.


Stephanie began by moving to the front of the speakers’ table so that she could use her slides, telling us that she was going to talk about gender identity teaching in schools, and how self-ID is being imposed on children with no question. Children, she said, are not developmentally capable of questioning an ideology that is being taught to them as fact. The graphs and graphics used in this report are taken from Davies-Arai’s slideshow.

Gender identity teaching harms girls in particular. Girls who are gender dysphoric and identify as boys comprise 75% of Tavistock referrals, showing that girls are more affected than boys. The erosion of single sex spaces, such as toilets, in schools also harms girls more than boys.

In 1966, 90% of adult transsexuals were male.  Now in 2019 – 75% of referrals to the Tavistock GIDS are female
, and we have no explanation for that.

Traditionally childhood onset gender dysphoria is a very rare condition that only affects boys. Around 2009 the figure began to rise and a few years later girls overtook boys. This is not the pattern of gender dysphoria we know because it is starting in early adolescence. In girls it was completely unheard of, and Davies-Arai is unimpressed by the explanation that ‘trans people are more visible’ and ‘now children know where to go’ which explains neither the increase in numbers nor the disparity in the sex ratio. The increase in figures for boys need investigation but are ‘completely overshadowed‘ by the increase in girls.

Looking at this pie chart we can see that children aged 13-16 comprise the biggest increase, and the thin, pale blue slice that is 17 year olds is so small because most 17 year olds are being seen by adult services.

“For me, one of the biggest issues is that the age group 17-25, which is when the brain finishes its development, is an age group that completely falls through the cracks because 17 year olds know they can go to an adult clinic and the clinic will do afirmation and informed consent.”

This self-diagnosis is unknown elsewhere within the NHS, Arai-Davies says.

Davies-Arai referred us to Lisa Littman’s study on parental reports of adolescent children coming out with ROGD and the startling statistics surrounding them. 82.8% children were female, with a mean age of  16.4 years.  A huge 41% had expressed a non-heterosexual orientation before identifying as transgender and 62.5% were diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder or neurodevelopmental disability before experiencing ROGD.

Stephanie added that Tavistock figures show ROGD children are more likely to have significant psychopathology and broader identity confusion than identity issues alone. A study in Finland suggests autism spectrum problems are common. Another study showed 10% had experienced sexual abuse. These are ‘our most vulnerable cohort of children’.

In schools, it is now much cooler to be trans than to be a ‘boring old lesbian’ and trans-identified girls have often been previously bullied for being lesbian.

She paused for a moment and sighed. “This is really distressing, I know that.”

The spread of social media is a huge contributing factor and there are hundreds of videos on YouTube documenting the transition, testosterone and ‘top surgery’. Adults, she added, can underestimate the extent to which young people live in a virtual world and the boundaries between the ‘real’ world and the online world can become blurred.

“It has become a glamourised pathway and the myth is sold that it is transforming- you can become a different person.’

While traditionally around 80% of trans-identified children desist with ‘watchful waiting’, under the new pathway of ‘affirmation’ and social transition, 45% progress to medical transition.

It makes sense that if a child is affirmed, they will persist, and persistence leads to a medical pathway. It is claimed by some that social transition and affirmation are benign and not a medical treatment.  Davies-Arai asserts that far from being a benign approach, these are actually extreme psychological treatments which frequently lead to future medical treatment. Even girls who do not go on to have an elective double mastectomy will be binding their breasts, and she asserts that the phrase ‘chest binding’ avoids the reality of what is happening.

Some of the potential side effects of breast binding.

The 2010-11 experiment at the Tavistock has raised many ethical concerns: blockers were intended for a very small cohort of children who had suffered extremely since early chidhood and persisted into adolescence. During the trial, the age of subjects was lowered, and before the trial was over it was declared a success.

Biggs study suggested that girls’ bone density did not increase on puberty blockers and that there was an increase in suicide ideation. Recent trials on sheep have suggested blockers can cause neurological effects, including affecting short term spatial memory.

“There is a window for neurological development and if it’s missed, you’ve missed it… we have tested puberty blockers at time of natural puberty on children before we have tested them on animals- that’s unprecedented.”

Detransitioners are beginning to speak out. Overwhelmingly young women, detransitioners’ bodies, voices and hair have often undergone irreversible changes.

The medical and teaching professions, and the government, are not asking enough questions about the results of the affirmation approach: on lesbians, on autistic children; on children who have been subject to sexual abuse, or present with previous and present mental health problems.

Stephanie referred to the extreme sex stereotypes in childhood marketing, porn culture, homophobia and misogyny and suggested that these things may make some lesbians feel it is safer to be read as men. Social media plays its part, and allows contagion to spread so much faster than it could historically.

“There has been a real targeting of children’s education… of children in schools, but also targeting of gender identity services… who have pressure put on them by groups like Mermaids and GIRES and Gendered Intelligence, for affirmation and for earlier and earlier medical transition. In adult society we are saying ‘yes you can identify as a woman, yes you’ve got a penis’, you don’t have to change your clothes even… yet the same activists are campaigning for earlier and earlier medicalisation of children. That’s a real anomaly to me.”

Stephanie urged parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, to order a free schools pack for their child’s school from Transgender Trend.

Much schools guidance is based on biological sex and current statutory guidance reflects that. Where schools fail to comply with this, parents can object.

Replacing ‘sex’ with ‘gender identity’ in school policies “results in confidentiality/secrecy issues, parental alienation and erosion of sexual boundaries”. The idea that you cannot ‘out’ a trans child means children are being expected to keep that a secret, and “secrets about sex put children at risk”.

Davies-Arai said she often heard of children being transitioned behind their parents backs and then the parents finding out about it. While schools have their own safeguarding policies, promising confidentiality to a child breaks the first rule of safeguarding. She adds that implementation of policies that take away single sex spaces for girls are in violation of girls’ boundaries, and parents should make objections known to schools.

The law states, “separate toilet and washing facilities must be provided for boys and girls aged 8 years and over pursuant to Regulation 4 of the School Premises (England) Regulations 2012, which falls within the exemption provided for in Schedule 22 of the Equality Act 2010”.

A DOE publication from 2018 proclaims:

“Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges: For the purpose of this advice, when referring to sexual harassment we mean ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ that can occur online and offline. When we reference sexual harassment, we do so in the context of child on child sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is likely to: violate a child’s dignity, and/or make them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and/or create a hostile, offensive or sexualised environment.”

Davies-Arai points out that by this definition a girl being forced to share intimate spaces with boys would constitute a form of sexual harassment. To object to sharing spaces with a boy who claims to be a girl sets a girl up as either a prude or a bigot at a time of life when peer approval is so very important, and to put a girl in that position “is emotional manipulation and coercive control.

She recommended using existing statutory guidance to point out safeguarding issues to your child’s school, concluding, “This is safeguarding… and a school will fail OFSTED if it fails safeguarding. Parents, you have power.”

You can download or order a schools resource pack from Transgender Trend  here.


The break

Stephanie stepped down to great applause; Williams announced that we now were halfway through the meeting and we were going to take a short break.  I scooted across the room to meet Lesley.

The break wasn’t really long enough to do much: the more committed fag-smokers popped outside for a puff and Lesley and I had a quick catch up and greeted a few familiar faces.

“Have you started organising your event yet?” somebody asked me.

“Er, no.”

Oh Twitter, how you consume my time…

Nor have I found a publisher, set up a YouTube channel or stitched the twenty foot long banner I’ve been talking about for months.

A bit less time on the Internet would go a long way. Let’s be honest, a bit less time on Twitter would go a long way.



The gender movement

The break was quickly over, we took our seats and the meeting resumed.

A woman told us how her daughter had burst into tears and told her, “you don’t understand, we’ve been taught to accept this.

Sonia does some filming.

Stephanie observed that while the gender movement seems to have become a youth movement, it will pass and become dated. Once young people realise they’ve been conditioned to believe in it by the establishment, they’ll realise it’s not a real rebellion. She told how a friend of hers had been called a bigot by her nephews. A woman said there were not many young people at the meetings now. Someone agreed that it was fracturing relationships between parents and children and asked if schools had an obligation to teach children about grooming. Stephanie said they didn’t, but agreed that part of relationships and sex education should be about recognising manipulative tactics, and the strategies used to teach gender ideology were a prime example of these.

“This movement will go full circle,” predicted Stephanie, “and young people will start rebelling against it.”

Another woman wondered why so many TV shows were sexualising young people: and a discussion ensued about the promotion of transition and prostitution, and normalising of pornography in the music industry and media as a whole.

“Why are there more girls than boys?” asked someone else.

“Because girls are oppressed,” replied Stephanie. “Now that you’re a girl or boy based on your internal feelings, of course more girls are identifying as boys.”

When girls see themselves being treated as lesser than boys and want to be treated as fully rounded human beings, why would it not seem to make sense to think you were a boy?

“When I was a child I felt that I was a boy,” she told us. “Now I recognise that I just felt like a human being.”

A woman said it was an overwhelming “international, global, male sexual rights movement intent on exploiting children, girls and women” and that we all needed to start organising together against it.

Stephanie said she felt that radical action is happening now, in many different ways, with meetings, conversations, in courts, in women’s groups; in the Transgender Schools packs which go into schools around the country. Public awareness is on the up and a lot of progress has been made this year. Lisa Littman is doing another study but more research needs to be done.

At the NHS meeting on Gender Identity Services, Stephanie was told, ‘we don’t like the word detransitioners, we see it as just another step on the gender journey‘. This is serious, she warned, “the next bit of conditioning… and of course it lets the NHS off the hook.”

Question time drew to a close and Jan introduced the final speaker “Heidi the radfem pirate.”

Heidi (the RadFem Pirate)

Heidi described herself as a mother and grandmother who used to work as a senior domestic worker specialising in children escaping domestic violence.

She said she was speaking out for all the women and girls who had been forced out of spaces by men pretending to be women. “They’re not women in any way, they’re simply men.”

Most sexual assaults are carried out by men against women, and unisex spaces give men more chances to take advantage of vulnerability. It is gaslighting to expect women to use female pronuns when addressing a man.

Businesses and organisations, from high street clothing companies to the Girl Guides are allowing men into women’s spaces, while pretending they still offer single sex provisions.

She reminded us that women had fought for the right:

“to compete in sports, to vote, to go into bars, to have public toilets, to go to university, to play sports, to wear trousers, to exhibit our arts and crafts, to write books, to join the armed forces, the police, the fire service,” concluding, “our sex is the reason we need safeguards in place.”

This was met with applause.

When single sex facilities are abused, women are put at risk; whether for faith-based reasons or otherwise, women need single sex provisions to protect their safety, especially in places like hospital wards, toilets and refuges where women are most vulnerable. Politicians are supporting this.

“Women’s rights are not only being eliminated but the right to be a woman is also being extended to men. This Orwellian madness needs to stop. This is about the safety of women and girls not the feelings of men.”

“If you wouldn’t lie to your child and tell them they can become Yoda, why would you lie to a child and tell them they can change sex?”

Why, she asks, are men being allowed to claim they are expanding the bandwidth of what it means to be a woman rather than expanding the bandwidth of what it means to be male?

Her ten year old son, she said, was desperate to be Yoda for several years, and would have believed her if she had told him he could do so when he grew up. He would gladly have taken any pill if it had turned him into Yoda. To tell children they can change sex is a lie. How can an adult push a child down this path? Remove the stereotypes and what is there left to transition?

Women must refuse to accept the language men are forcing on us because if we cannot define woman, we cannot protect our sex-based rights.

Inspired by women like Posie Parker, Hannah Clarke, Venice Allan, Julia Long, Meghan Murphy and particularly Magdalen Berns, Heidi says she wears her ‘adult human female’ T shirt for a long list of reasons, concluding, “….I wear it for all the children being sold a horrifying lie, I wear it for women’s rights.. I wear it because I refuse to lie, I refuse to be silent, I refuse to be gaslit, and I wear it because it bloody well needs to be worn!”

She praised Posie Parker “a woman who wasn’t content to sit on her arse and look the other way, a woman who wouldn’t be silent, a woman who, along with many others has been banned permanantly from Twitter and Facebook simply for speaking the truth.”

She said she would finish with her favourite Magdalen Berns quote “Oh fuck off, you wanker!”

Message from Anne Ruzlyo

Georgia read out a message from Anne.

“Hello everyone. I’m so disappointed I can’t be with you tonight. I hope you all have a  fabulous evening.

I was a prison officer at Holloway and Downview and have seen the bonds that women prisoners form with each other. Some build life-long friendships. They help each other through the hardest of times. They have shared experiences of secual abuse, drug addiction, prostitution etc. They are victims of circumstances that have been created by men. Therefore it is not acceptable to allow men – abusive, violent, narcissistic, fetishist, sex offending men into women’s prisons. Ever…

Women in prison deserve to be safe and secure, something the majority of them have never had or felt on the outside. These men are manipulating the system and I am disgusted by the prison service for allowing the safety of these women to be compromised…  there now appears to be no duty of care to these women… finally, I support the prisoner who has taken a legal case against Downview Prison and I would urge you to donate to her crowdfunder if you can.”

“I’ll take that round of applause for being for all our wonderful speakers.” concluded Jan. Please also show your appreciation for the wonderful local resisters. Head out of here, turn right to the pub, so our volunteers can clear up quickly. We’re very grateful to the venue for housing us.”

When the applause died down, we headed for the door.

“That was quite a trek for you,” I said to Lesley. “Bet you’re looking forward to chilling in the pub for a bit.”

“Argh, no,” she replied. “I’ve got a job to finish for the morning. I have to drive home again.”

And she disappeared out into the chilly London darkness, to face that drive all the way back up the motorway. That’s what I call commitment. Or madness. I’m not quite sure which.

Me? I walked to the pub with Stephanie, where the lovely Jan bought me a pint of delicious lime soda. Thanks Jan. That was a great meeting. I lost you in the hurlyburly of the bar, but next time the drinks are on me.


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