The health secretary Sajid Javid sparked outrage by saying trans kids may be “suffering from child sex abuse” or bullying.
Javid told Sky News on Wednesday morning (6 April) that the government is “absolutely right” in banning conversion therapy “for LGB people”.
However, he added: “When it comes to trans, I do think that we need to be more careful.”
Elaborating on why the government has decided to exclude trans people from the ban, Javid said a “more sensitive approach” is needed.
“Is it a genuine case of gender identity dysphoria,” Javid said, “or could it be that that individual is suffering from some child sex abuse, for example, or could it be linked to bullying?”
Gendered Intelligence told PinkNews that the health secretary’s comments “are a cynical attempt to further the division between the rights and healthcare of LGB people and those of the trans community, and to advance an increasingly anti-trans government agenda”.
“We already know that the majority of conversion practices take place against vulnerable victims in settings where they should be safe – healthcare settings, faith communities, families,” the charity added.
“There is no doubt in mind that the government’s backtracking on legislative protection for trans people will massively increase the risk of harm to the trans community, particularly trans young people and trans people of colour.
“To suggest that a single marginalised group be excluded from legal protections – and young people in particular – is to legalise a form of torture.”
The most common forms of conversion therapy in the UK, according to the government’s own research, are spiritual methods and psychological methods such as talking ‘therapies’.
Yet Sky News presenter Kay Burley asked Javid whether it would be acceptable to administer an electric shock to “someone who feels they are in the wrong body”.
Javid said: “No, I don’t think so. No, no, of course not.”
.@KayBurley: Is it acceptable to administer an electric shock to someone who feels they are in the wrong body?@sajidjavid says conversion therapy must be banned for “LGB people”, but says ‘we must be more careful with trans issues’.https://t.co/xq6c692dhn #KayBurley pic.twitter.com/4J3c9zybxP
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 6, 2022
Sajid Javid accused of endorsing ‘barbaric’ torture
Sajid Javid also brought up a March preliminary report into trans youth healthcare by Dr Hilary Cass that recommended such provision be expanded “as soon as feasibly possible”. Currently there is one clinic for trans youth in the UK.
The health secretary said Cass “talked about how the children and young people, when they say they have gender dysphoria, it is right for medical experts to be able to question that and to determine what the cause might be.”
“So I think it is right to take the approach that we have, which is to ban conversion therapy for LGB, but to take a much more sort of sensitive approach when it comes to trans,” Javid added.
Sajid Javid. (Henry Nicholls – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Gendered Intelligence said: “The ‘more sensitive’ approach for which Javid calls is nothing to do with good medical practice.
“We support an exploratory approach to gender identity, and this is already part of the system of gender-affirming care in the UK.
“What the health secretary is suggesting is that practices that are so barbaric and outdated that they ought to be banned should remain legal against a single vulnerable group.”
The trans-led charity noted there is “overwhelming evidence” for both the effectiveness of gender-affirming care and the “damaging effects” of conversion therapy – “both areas in which the UK is falling further and further behind the international standard.”
Javid’s remarks further fanned the flames of outrage from both within and outside of the Conservative Party.
“Shame on @SajidJavid,” tweeted Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon. “Torturing trans people is never acceptable.
“The Tory government lied when it vowed to protect all LGBT people from [conversion therapy].”
There’s absolutely *zero* credible evidence that being Trans is a symptom of “child sex abuse or bullying”
Trans people exist & will, like cis people, be victims of abuse
Abuse however does *not* make cis people Trans
— Adi Daly Gourdialsing (she/her/hers) (@AdiDee_Gee) April 6, 2022
This is an abhorrent thing to say. This is the Government we currently have. How dare they say this!
When all the medical professional bodies stand in opposition to the Health Secretary on this issue, it should call into question the integrity of his position. https://t.co/kYqWLhGGmW
— Adam (@adam_f23) April 6, 2022
Nobody is stopping therapists having conversations with a young person about their gender identity in order to diagnose gender dysphoria.
What needs banning is those therapists who are ideologically invested in a predetermined outcome to STOP people being trans! https://t.co/BZx0xq0yiQ
— Helen (@mimmymum) April 6, 2022
The British Medical Association says conversion therapy should be banned for all LGBT+ people. Think I’ll take their expert view over your uninformed take Sajid https://t.co/7zS7tTvusR
— Jeffrey Ingold (@Jefflez) April 6, 2022
Following the government’s decision to move forward with an LGB conversion therapy ban, more than 120 LGBT+ groups and HIV campaign organisations pulled out of its landmark “Safe To Be Me” conference.
Left in tatters, the government scrapped the conference altogether late Tuesday evening.
Iain Anderson, Britain’s LGBT+ business champion, resigned on Tuesday as he accused the government of fighting a “woke war”.
In the days since the turnabout, many of Britain’s top medical groups, including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, have blasted the government for not extending the ban to trans folk.
Researchers have found that conversion therapy can be deeply “damaging” for trans people, causing life-long “severe psychological distress” and “increased odds of lifetime suicide attempts”.
According to the government’s own data, more than one in 10 trans Britons have been offered conversion therapy.
“I can see no logic in excluding trans people from legislation banning conversion therapy,” tweeted senior Tory MP William Wragg. “Let’s have some empathy.”
Number 10 claims banning trans conversion therapy is “complex” and requires further consideration.
This is despite legal experts and human rights activists saying a trans conversion therapy ban would be anything but “complex”.