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‘Failed in Their Most Basic Duty’: U.K. Psychologists ‘Ashamed’ of Promoting ‘Gender-Affirming Care’

April 26, 2024

In an open letter, a group of British psychologists are apologizing for the role their industry has played in harming children through “gender-affirming care.” Sixteen unnamed “senior clinical psychologists” published a letter on Sunday saying that they are “ashamed of the role psychology played in gender care” and of how psychologists “failed young people at Gender Identity Development Service clinics.”

Responding to an op-ed article claiming that the “medical profession” has to consider its position on gender transition procedures for minors, the psychologists wrote, “These were psychology-led services. Whether intentionally or not, and many were doing their best in an impossible situation, it was clinical psychologists who promoted an ideology that was almost impossible to challenge…”

“We write as clinical psychologists with longstanding concerns about the scandal unfolding at Gender Identity Development Service [GIDS] clinics. Some of us are former Gids clinicians,” the letter’s authors stated, referring to the controversial GIDS clinic at Tavistock, which the British National Health Service (NHS) closed down in 2022. The psychologists noted that many of their colleagues “largely failed to carry out proper assessments of troubled young people, and thus put many on an ‘irreversible medical pathway’ that in most cases was inappropriate; and who failed in their most basic duty to keep proper records.” They continued:

“It is also our professional body, the British Psychological Society, that has failed (despite years of pressure) to produce guidelines for clinicians working with young people in this complex area; and that, forced into making an official response for the first time, now minimises its own role in events and calls for ‘more psychology’ as the answer. We are ashamed of the role psychology has played.”

The psychologists concluded that the dangerous “gender-affirming care” approach adopted at the GIDS clinic at Tavistock and at other “gender clinics” across the U.K. “was a multi-factorial systemic failure,” but that there must be “accountability for the managers and clinicians who pursued such unethical practice and caused avoidable harm to young people…” They wrote, “[W]e believe the role of our own profession should be fully examined.”

The letter is centered on the groundbreaking Cass Review from the U.K. Concluded earlier this month, the four-year investigation and analysis led by esteemed pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass warned of the “remarkably weak evidence” that clinicians relied on to promote and practice gender transitions for minors, often with little or no safeguards to ensure the protection of children and their health. As The Washington Stand previously noted, “The report’s comprehensive review of all literature about efforts to transition children found the ‘gender-affirming care’ model flawed or unsupported at every turn.”

Among other things, the Cass Review concluded that there is “a lack of high-quality evidence” to support the claim that gender transition procedures are in fact beneficial, there is “no evidence” to support the claim that gender transition procedures prevent or reduce the risk of suicide, a plurality (and in many cases a majority) of children diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” have other psychological comorbidities which often go untreated, scientific debate of gender transition procedures is stifled by “toxic” public debate, and practitioners of gender transition procedures consistently failed or refused to maintain proper records or conduct follow-up studies on the impacts of their interventions.

It was Cass who advised the NHS to close the GIDS clinic at Tavistock, two years before her final report was due to be submitted. She expressed serious concerns over the clinic’s myopic focus on gender dysphoria, poor record-keeping, and proximity to the transgender activist group Mermaids, as well as numerous other concerns.

Already, the final version of the Cass Review is halting the “gender-affirming care” model, at least in the U.K. and Europe. Roughly a month before the report’s publication, NHS England officially ended the prescription of puberty blockers and hormone drugs to children, writing that “there is not enough evidence of safety and clinical effectiveness” to continue prescribing the drugs. Shortly after the publication of the Cass Report, Scotland also halted its puberty blocker and hormone drug program for children.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.