The Health Secretary is set to order an investigation into services at NHS England’s gender identity clinic for children, it has been reported.
An ally of Sajid Javid told The Times newspaper that the Secretary of State for Health believes Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) is “failing children” who are gender-confused.
An interim report published by The Cass Review, an ongoing independent assessment of clinical practice at GIDS led by Dr Hilary Cass, found its “service model” in need of fundamental change.
The Health Secretary views Dr Cass’s provisional findings as “deeply concerning”, the unnamed friend said.
“That overly affirmative approach where people just accept what a child says, almost automatically, and then start talking about things like puberty blockers — that’s not in the interest of the child at all.”
According to a further source, Javid thinks “far too many public figures” have been steering clear of the transgender debate “for too long”, and that there is “a militant lobby that doesn’t want a debate”.
The Cabinet Minister is also reported to have likened sensitivities over the transgender issue to reluctance to speak out about child abuse by mainly British-Asian men in Rotherham for fear of being branded a racist.
In a letter to the Times, chartered psychologist Stephen Munt welcomed the report of a possible inquiry by the Health Secretary “into gender treatment for children”.
He said: “There are many people correctly assigned male or female at birth who, in certain respects, may nevertheless more closely resemble average members of the other sex than they do their own.
“This need not mean, however, that they are ‘really’ a woman trapped in a man’s body or vice versa.”
He argued that, in such instances, what is needed “is not necessarily puberty blockers, hormones and gender reassignment surgery but understanding and help” in navigating the challenges of life.
overly affirmative and bordering on ideological
A support group representing over 400 parents with gender-confused children expressed gratitude that “the Government has finally woken up to the harm being done to children”.
Bayswater Support Group, many of whose members have children who have been referred to GIDS for treatment, also called “for the inquiry to be expanded to cover the education and charity sectors”.
In light of a possible review in England, Scottish Conservatives’ spokeswoman for children and young people Meghan Gallacher said Scotland should follow Javid’s lead, and launch an inquiry.
In Parliament last week, Sajid Javed expressed concern at recent evidence that had come to light exposing GIDS’ failings in caring for vulnerable children referred to its clinic.
He said: “It is already clear to me from her interim findings and the other evidence I have seen that NHS services in this area are too narrow; they are overly affirmative and in fact are bordering on ideological.
“That is why in this emerging area, of course we need to be absolutely sensitive, but we also need to make sure that holistic care is provided, that there is not a one-way street and that all medical interventions are based on the best clinical evidence.”