A senior psychotherapist who resigned his NHS post over fears parental and staff anxieties about transsexualism are being ignored, has gone public with his concerns.
Marcus Evans – who until last month was a Governor overseeing the NHS’s flagship gender centre for children – warned against hurrying them “down the path of no return”.
He said the NHS’s refusal to debate the issue “justified me leaving my role and speaking out”.
Mr Evans has four decades’ experience in psychiatry and supports radical physical operations in some circumstances.
… the path of no return
However, he quit as a Governor of The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust after numerous concerns about the way its transgender clinic treats young people.
Similar apprehension was aired in a recent BBC Panorama documentary, with former staff members questioning the impact of physical interventions.
Others felt pressured into backing such procedures.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Evans said: “I cannot think of one other area of medicine where it would be permissible to use so extensively medication whose long-term effects are unknown.”
He said he heard concerns over a decade ago that assessments of patients “weren’t in-depth enough”.
More recently, a group of parents whose children had been assessed by Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) said they were worried about a rush to medical intervention.
Evans added: “In my 40 years in psychiatry, I have learned that closing down debate and discussion creates silos that resist thoughtful examination of important issues.
“This is a particularly worrying approach by the GID service. They are treating highly vulnerable individuals who are making decisions which will often have, as yet unknown, consequences for the rest of their lives.”
As part of the BBC documentary, Panorama asked Professor Carl Heneghan, of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, to look at research on puberty blockers.
These are the drugs often used on young people who believe they were born in the wrong body.
Professor Heneghan said evidence was lacking in the area and as such adolescents could not make an informed decision about long term effects.
Neil Evans, a professor of biodiversity in animals, also told Panorama about the striking results of research he conducted with puberty blockers on sheep.
Explaining that the drugs changed the anatomy of the sheep brains, he warned using similar drugs on people “is in some ways a live experiment”.