The Tavistock Centre, which has treated thousands of gender dysphoric children and youth, has been deemed unsafe in its “gender-affirming” practices and is slated to close next year, replaced by regional clinics with more holistic approaches to care.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service’s (NHS) only youth Gender Identity Development Service, the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation and Trust, made headlines in 2020 for losing a court case to 23-year-old detransitioner Keira Bell.
Now, after an independent review headed by paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass — former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health — found that the clinic’s standards of care failed its minor patients, the infamous Tavistock Centre will be closed down by early 2023. She wrote in an open letter to England’s National Health Service:
“My interim report highlighted the gaps in the evidence base regarding all aspects of gender care for children and young people, from epidemiology through to assessment, diagnosis, support, counselling and treatment.”
Invasive, Irreversible Procedures
A miserable tomboy with divorced parents, the 14-year-old Bell discovered American transgender activists on YouTube. Feeling that this was the answer to her problems, she obtained a referral to the Tavistock Centre in north London, where after just three counselling sessions she was prescribed puberty blockers at the age of 16, followed by testosterone a year later.
“Her voice dropped, hair sprouted on her face and body, and her sex drive increased. Her bones started losing density, she suffered symptoms commonly associated with menopause, and her tears dried up — at moments of extreme emotion she would react with a lump forming in her thickening throat rather than shedding tears.”
In 2017, aged 20, Bell underwent a double mastectomy. However, a year after that, she realised that she did not fit in with men: “I would always be female no matter how hard I tried. I just am a woman… And that is it.”
Sorrowful that she may never be able to bear children of her own, she added: “I think they’re evil — those promoting the idea that you can be born in the wrong body and lying about the nature of these drugs.”
Malign Pharmacology and Social Contagion
Under its “gender affirmative care” model, the Tavistock Centre often prescribed puberty blockers to children without addressing the root causes of their gender dysphoria, such as family trauma, sexual abuse, bullying, or various mental health issues.
The blocker, Lupron, is not meant for extended use, and is conventionally meant to treat prostate cancer, endometriosis and precocious puberty. Given to healthy children and adolescents, it often causes sterility and other long-term side effects.
A panel of three High Court judges found that “it was highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers. It was also doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty-blocking drugs.”
Referrals to the Tavistock Centre rose from just 97 in 2009 to 2,590 in 2018, with girls comprising 76 percent of cases. As Bernard Lane reported:
“… a few leading American practitioners of the gender-affirming treatment approach have broken with the dogma, and conceded that some of these sudden trans declarations probably do reflect the influence of social networks — and may be more likely to end in detransition, regret and harm.
Atypical gender dysphoria, a distressing sense of conflict with biological sex, up until the 1990s tended to be first diagnosed among a minuscule number of pre-schoolers, mostly boys. The majority of these boys grew out of the condition without medicalisation…
Social contagion has been documented more recently in eating disorders, and in South Korean girls’ emulation of celebrity suicide. Adolescent females as a group are considered especially vulnerable to this kind of network influence.”
The closure of the Tavistock Centre does not mean that British youth will no longer have access to healthcare for gender dysphoria; instead, there will be new “regional centres at existing children’s hospitals offering more ‘holistic care’ with ‘strong links to mental health services’”.
Sweden has banned puberty blockers for the treatment of children and underage teenagers. The Karolinska Hospital stated:
“These treatments are potentially fraught with extensive and irreversible adverse consequences such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, infertility, increased cancer risk, and thrombosis.”
“Those who undergo transition surgery risk impaired brain development, sterility, cancers and premature death. The risk that goes with the treatment provided at Tavistock can be seen in the suicide rate among those who receive transition treatment — 19 times higher among these youngsters than the suicide rate among their peers.”
The new British centres will be required to collect data on the impacts of treatment, such as puberty blockers — which the Tavistock Centre neglected to do for those under 16. The Post-Millennialreports:
Cass believes that a diagnosis for gender dysphoria should not take centre-stage and become the focal point of care. Instead, she said that “Staff should maintain a broad clinical perspective in order to embed the care of children and young people with gender uncertainty within a broader child and adolescent health context.”
May the sombre lessons of the Tavistock Centre truly inform better healthcare for youth struggling with gender dysphoria.
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