Why gender identity should be left out of the ‘conversion therapy’ ban | Letter

Evidence shows that the majority of gender-distressed children who are not ‘affirmed’ in their cross-sex identification outgrow those feelings, write Maya Forstater and Helen Joyce

Your editorial (17 April) does not fully address the reason campaigners from across the political spectrum warn against including gender identity alongside sexual orientation in plans to ban “conversion therapy”.

Evidence shows that the majority of gender-distressed children who are not “affirmed” in their cross-sex identification outgrow those feelings. The proposals that you endorse would make it harder for therapists to explore what may lie behind gender distress. Common underlying causes include the stirrings of same-sex attraction, undiagnosed autistic-spectrum disorder, trauma from sexual abuse and, for many teenage girls, living in a sexist, porn-saturated world.

You say that including gender identity in the ban would have no effect on reputable therapists seeking to explore such issues. But in countries that have already passed such laws, such therapists now risk being misrepresented as trying to “convert” a child fixated on their cross-sex identity.

The result is that, in these places, gender-distressed children are more likely to be fast-tracked to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, surgery – and a lifetime of medical problems, including sexual dysfunction and sterility. This is the true “conversion therapy”.
Maya Forstater
Executive director, Sex Matters
Helen Joyce
Director of advocacy, Sex Matters

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