Tavistock: 1989-2018

This is based on this youtube presentation by a member of staff at Tavistock in March 2018.  You can watch this: here. 

Here’s a transcript of the talk TAvistock part 3

I have covered the physical interventions we are visiting on children/youth, who present with Gender Dysphoria, here TAVISTOCK PART THREE (A)

I now want to examine what this talk tells us about how we diagnose these children and include a few quotes that didn’t make into part A. .

662F82EF-94C0-49B6-8C6A-1563ACD6C958We are basing this diagnosis on the belief that, somehow, Gender Identity exists independently of biology and is sometimes in conflict with our biological sex.

This slide shows that Dr Kelly recognises biological sex, sexual orientation and sexual identity exist.  He also identifies, separately, Gender Roles, Gender Expression and Gender Identity.

Biological Sex is the easy one.  Despite efforts to destabilise the definition of sex we are a sexually dimorphic species.  Differences/Disorders of Sexual development (also referred to as intersex) don’t disrupt the “binary” of sex. Here are two people qualified to comment on the issue of sexual dimorphism.  Claire’s comment, below,  is a good one to keep handy as her article, published in the journal Nature, is often wheeled out to claim the opposite of what she meant. It is actually a fascinating  Article


Dr Kelly defines our Biological sex as our anatomy and says it is an important part of  our sexuality and sexual identity.  I am not sure how sexual attraction is only partially reliant on biology, except that this matters in Transgender Ideology.  Additionally,  what does “sexual identity” mean here?  It maybe to accommodate people who identify as the opposite sex (not just gender). Alternatively it is, perhaps, to include people who identify as a particular sexual orientation regardless of their sexed body. That is to be inclusive of self-described “male lesbians”, or female’s who identify as “gay men”. 

Gender Identity is here described as a “personal and individual thing” which is not necessarily fixed.  Yet another reason why it is not a good idea to base legal concepts on something undefinable and shifting. If Gender Identity relies on a personal, subjective feeling how is it sensible to codify it into Law?


Gender Expression.  This seems to mean how you “perform” your gender and how you signal  which gender you identify with/as.


Here Dr Kelly, an obvious biological male, talks about his identity as a man.  We learn how this might be signalled by the way he dresses, manners, his hands and even the way he crosses his legs.  This is all complicated by the notion of metrosexual males who may even cross their legs in a feminine way but still identify as male.  Confused?  Don’t worry. It is, apparently, complicated and kind of hard to think about.  God help those of us with #LadyBrains.

Then there are Gender Roles.  DEE8D583-FE70-493A-9A96-B96D45D2BC57

Here he recognises these rely on gender stereotypes.  Am I a woman because I pick up the dustpan and brush? Don’t be silly. That’s just a gender stereotype. We want to deconstruct those don’t we?  And here we come to a startling admission.  “The last thing we want to do is to have a young person changing their body to fit in with… societal rules”.  Dr Kelly would love to take Gender out of this issue altogether.  But, guess what, we have to deal with reality.  I assume he means  gender stereotypes are deeply entrenched and changing society is too hard.  So what does he propose?  We need to “carve out a space” for someone to express their gender, in ways that society will accept.  Are we really carving up the bodies of young people because that is easier than transgressing expected norms of behaviour for fe/males?   I am old enough to remember when Gender Non-Conforming behaviour was widespread.  What happened?  I give you Annie Lennox and Boy George.  I could supply loads more examples.

Next we are introduced to the Gender Unicorn. (See Header).  A slide that Dr Kelly uses to introduce concepts central to his work.  Sex is, unsurprisingly, described as “assigned at birth”.  People with DSDs are othered as a third sex.  Sexual orientation is undermined by the inclusion of romantic/emotional attraction.  We are using this tool in primary schools!  So, is it entirely unsurprising we are seeing rising rates of Gender Dysphoria in girls, and boys? Who amongst us performs our sex stereotypical expectations 100% accurately?

It gets even more confusing when we examine how young children think about gender.  We are provided with this slide which shows how children are socialised into expectations of what makes a boy or girl. A8228010-BD32-4390-B218-A9153523789E

This kind of thinking, in a two year old, is quite cute.  It is less so when espoused by our political, media and medical elite.  I like my politicians to engage with issues as adults not toddlers.

There is not much to disagree with in the next slide except to wish the Dr would join the dots. Emerging sexuality and associated feelings of shame. (Surely worse for those who realise they are same sex attracted in a heteronormative culture).  Anyone paying attention would see that  the rigidity of the “gender binary” and the impact of parental or societal expectations has significantly worsened in the last twenty years.


Is the new rigidity of Gender Stereotypes a new Backlash  against Women’s rights? As women encroach on male professions is this a new way to put women back in their box?  Is the  Public Femininity display a way to dispel the ball-breaking bitch trope?  Are we displaying hyper femininity to signal we are no threat to men?   This could be labelled compliance, or subversion,  either way omething seems to be going on.

Moving on to the understanding of gender in 8 year olds.  Dr Kelly makes an astute observation about the meaning of gender for young children compared to 38 year olds.  Note that we are following one set of diagnostic criteria for both groups.  Children pick up social cues which reflect the society in which they live. Adults, mainly males, also  absorb expectations from adult depictions of female roles. Some of this in contexts (porn) that, you would hope, your eight year old  has not encountered.  See this interview with Andrea Chu who is remarkably honest about their pathway. You can read up on Chu’s thoughts on the  role of sissy porn and the concept of the female as passive: here


Our kids are navigating such difficult territory.  I was one of 8 children. Six of us girls. All the horrific statistics about sexual violence against women and children were played out on our bodies.  I was a dungaree wearing, tree- climbing, jumper off buildings.  We ran free and I was not unusual.  Sure we had pretty dresses, for specific occasions, but overwhelmingly we lived in “playing out clothes”. These were the norm and we would nowadays, describe them as gender neutral.  I was brought up in a pretty traditional household. Working class father. Manual occupation.  Definitely seen as the breadwinner. Even in that context it was absolutely the norm for we girls to do this. Nowadays this would put us at risk of referral to the Gender Identity Industrial Complex!

Fast forward to puberty.  As Dr Kelly recognises this is a hugely challenging time for young people. It’s a turbulent time for even the most well adjusted teen.


What happens if you throw in some complicated family dynamics?   Below  Dr Kelly outlines some scenarios.  There are multiple everyday reasons why girls struggle during puberty.  Growing up in a society with record violence against women, endemic woman hating porn, hyper-sexualised expectations for young women. No wonder girls are identifying out of their sex.  For young boys, who don’t want to be associated with toxic masculine socialisation, who are gay and on the “femme” side the flip side of this equation comes into play.  Throw in some domestic turbulence and you get some extreme rejections of what it means to be female /male in this society.


And lets not forget homophobia.  Some parents would prefer a faux-straight child to a male child who they might think the behaviour, described below,  signals their son may be a proto-gay male.


Dr Kelly goes on to talk about how people can hold toxic views about gender.  People can also have quite toxic views rooted in homophobia.👇


I find myself bewildered that the Gender Identity Specialists didn’t anticipate this.  The law of unintended consequences.  Spend all your time banging on about undermining heteronormative culture and guess what?  You did a great job of establishing a new, pernicious, way of establishing it.  All your campaigning around “disrupting binary thinking about gender” and what did it achieve? We have actually  established a way to make sex stereotypes “flesh”  ; by carving up the bodies of boys and girls who don’t conform.

I wonder how many people, who have dedicated their lives to the furthering of this social revolution, have  dark nights of the soul?   They should.









Tavistock: 1989-2018

This article is base on this youtube presentation, by a member of staff at Tavistock, from March 2018.  You can watch: here. 

Here’s a transcript of the talk TAvistock part 3

The speaker is Dr Aiden Kelly, a Clinical Psychologist, who works at the Gender Identity Service (Tavistock). He practices at the London base but spends time working with services in Ireland.  The service is for under 18’s only,  it does not cover any surgeries.  I am going to focus here on what he says about the medical interventions. [I will do another piece on what he shares about the diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria].

In the  overview of the service, he is keen to emphasise that the service is not “outcome specific”.  The role of the Tavistock, we are told, is to explore Gender Identity confusion and not  merely affirm a cross-sex /transgender identity. This talk is from 2018, is this is still an accurate description of the service?

He  shares some quite dramatic information on the  rise in clients. EC2EE99C-C2B3-4F30-BBEB-4DA678B7DC73 He explains that referrals in 1989 numbered three, by 2010 rates were doubling annually and, by 2016/17, they hit 2000. At the same time the sex ratio of referrals had  completely inverted to comprise  predominantly females.  75% female whereas only a decade earlier the service would have catered to  75% males.  Aiden  is puzzled by this growth and appeals to his audience for help: C1E0FE16-C795-4635-AA7F-3F8021F962FD

Over the same period there has also been a significant rise in male referrals, who are sometimes forgotten, however the shift to females is very pronounced.  The  surge in numbers and the changing sex ratios, should have given the service pause for thought. Were the  existing treatment protocols fit for purpose for a new demographic?  The  obvious angle would be to look at this through the lens of “sex”. Does this not occur to the speaker because he sees through the prism of  “Gender Identity”?  By framing sex as something “assigned at birth”, and treating it as a post-modernist, pick and mix are we enticing refugees from femininity with an, illusory, escape route?

One  response to the growing numbers is to increase staff/services able to deal with rising referral rates.  However, it  was not the only possible response.  Here an ex member of staff , and Tavistock whistle-blower, suggested an alternative: Halt the service until you figure out what’s going on .611E6C3B-0403-4F84-A58B-D1E700E34717

The above clip is from this article in The Times.  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/it-feels-like-conversion-therapy-for-gay-children-say-clinicians-pvsckdvq2

In reality the response was  service expansion. Furthermore the people disseminating the training, for new providers, are drawn from the existing pool of specialists. This pool of early adopters tend to be deeply committed to the idea we all possess an innate gender identity and sometimes this is at odds with our biological sex.  Here is how Dr Aiden sees his role.  De-mystifying what he does, over-coming the fears of new practitioners and dispelling the notion this is some sort of magical or crazy process.  042A4D5F-6E9D-46D8-A99A-601D1C21174B


The jury is in out on whether what we are doing to young people comes under the heading crazy. 

Here is a slide Aiden shares on the interventions that GIDS provides, for kids presenting with Gender Dysphoria.  He is keen to emphasise that it is not all about physical interventions, although it does include them.  The approach he describes sound’s eminently reasonable. It moves from reversible to irreversible.  D6AEFB04-C15E-4760-91D4-AA19E4CBE3B7The first stage is Puberty Blockers. As of March 2018 these were still being described as a “pause”.  This has been a contested statement for years. I have blogged about this in earlier posts. Here:  Puberty Blockers. Part One & here Puberty Blockers: Part Two

Additionally, on the day I write this, a segment on Radio 4 has finally covered the revised NHS guidance which no longer calls puberty blockers “reversible”.  (Link here though it will only be available for 30 Days)  Radio 4 link re Puberty Blockers

Here is a transcript of the Radio 4 segment done by a twitter user (handle included and permissions sought)  Transcript. Radio 4 30th June

Summary: They are not just a pause, not fully reversible and are largely experimental, for kids with Gender Dysphoria. (They also have their critics when used for Precocious Puberty, though this is established medical practice).  In this talk Dr Day  claims701B52DF-2EF9-4F90-9A83-682E614EF03DC516F988-9356-4B64-9E94-99F6F33C0BE6 they are fully reversible and only pause puberty.  This would now appear to be recognised as false.  Note also that, as of March 2018, the Tavistock protocol is that children be allowed to go through a partial puberty, as he explicitly says in this second clip This is important for young people to get an idea, not just of their Gender, but also their Sexuality.  Below, Dr Aiden, expands on this important issue. He concedes  a few important points. 840990E4-9947-464C-AB87-CBCF005F6982The lack of research. The experimental nature of the treatment. The fact that many of them won’t persist in a wish to change sex. Here Dr Day uses an estimate of a 50/50 split between those who would persist and desisters.  I have done many blogs looking at  rates of desistance and, whilst the research is contested, a figure of 80% would seem to have  more validity than a split of 50/50.


In this clip we are conceding that puberty is pivotal. The clinicians work with the family to identify the right approach but then put the responsibility on the parents! Why? Because the don’t have the evidence to know which kids would have been among the  desisted community. Let that sink in. The clinicians are not sure so they are making it the responsibility of the parents. They also fear that these kids may come back to them in 10 or 15 years time. Dr Kelly uses an example a returner who says they did the right thing, but its clear the fear is  regret from those subject to early interventions. This extract illustrates the clinic have a very nice get out clause.  It was you/your family that agreed to this.  [I see many de-transitioners accepting a personal  burden of regret. I look forward to the day when they externalise this anger and direct it at the people who perpetrated this medical malpractice]

Here are a few startling admissions.  In theory the blocker C5FEFDC9-6E2B-44D8-BABB-C351899B8919could be available as young as 10!  The current , public, protocol published by the Tavistock has an age limit set at age 12.

Here he demonstrates awareness of  how ill-informed young clients are on the impact of puberty blockers.  The impetuosity of youth should not  be discounted.  In fact  there are many side effects to the blocker and here is a surprisingly honest account. Mood difficulties may be worsened. It also suppresses sexual interest. Here he seems to be avoiding explicity stating that sex drive will go. D5D0ACF3-0CE0-4DE1-94F8-FE697200C347I would never agree to any treatment that I thought would imperil my child’s sexuality.  I fear many affirming parents are not in full posession of the facts and are terrified by the spectre of suicide. They should not be Suicide in the Trans Community

The next stage in treatment is Cross Sex Hormones.

These are not fully reversible treatments and we are giving them to 16 year olds.  Reminder: It is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 under UK Law. We all know people who regret their tattoos, even those done well above the age of 18.

Below are another two clips highlighting that, even if you meet the criteria for Gender Dysphoria, you may find a way to accept your biological sex. (Though he doesn’t use this phrasing)

So we need to know that any diagnosis is based on incontrovertible evidence but we know that this is not the case.  Here we see one tool which is described as a useful way to think about “Gender”.  Yes!  Its the Gender Unicorn. I will do another post on the Diagnostic criteria but for this blog its enough to post this clip.


This slide completely  undermines Sexual Orientation by conflating it with attraction to Gender.  It insults people with Disorders/Differences of Sexual Development /Intersex by calling them an “other” sex.  People with DSDs are not a third sex. Humans are sexually dimorphic. Just a few things wrong with something promoted as a useful, diagnostic, tool.

So, which groups are we medicalising?  People with autistic traits account for a whopping 30%  along with people suffering depression, self-harm, and bullied youth.  Many of the people the clinic sees are already wrestling with a myriad of issues, as is well documented.

I am somewhat surprised to see there is no data shared here about the proportion who are same sex attracted. We know this was a considerable part of the demographic from earlier research.    He does note the prominence of bullying, but its a shame he doesn’t  single out homophobia. We know gay youth are more exposed to negative social interactions which can lead to Gender Dysphoria.

Below is another clear statement made that cross-sex hormones are definitely not fully reversible.


From my observation, and parental report, it does seem  Testosterone operates  quickly, and dramatically, on females.  Who, lest we forget now  who comprise 75% of referrals.  51C019AF-0DFB-42A6-A9D9-54B2596EDDA1

The changing age, and sex, of the referrals is a huge concern.


The parents concerned about behaviour, inconsistent with sex stereotypes, do seem to figure prominently in public proclamations about Transgender Children.  To his credit Dr Kelly rejects pathologizing this sort of behaviour in children as young as five.

He does face a new kind of parent as he goes onto explain. A whopping  90% are being socially transitioned by the time they come to the service.  He is very clear about this. It is a social experiment, they are worried and they don’t know what impact this will have on their pathway. 922F54AE-77EE-4169-A59F-BD7A47862635 The speed of the change has clearly taken the clinic by surprise.  The societal embrace of the “Transgender Child” has swept our society at breakneck speed.  Only a decade ago some of the practices we are seeing today would have been unthinkable.

This clinician positions the clinic as resisting the dominant affirmative narrative and resultant parental pressure.  He claims that the clinic to maintain a middle course.  I would suggest the “try” in that sentence speaks volumes.

He leaves us with some Take Away thoughts.  20EA99C3-1AA4-4811-B4E6-390468F55F30

To answer the final question posed above. My position on gender non-conforming children is they are fine as they are. They may be proto-gay children/ adolescents. They may be heterosexual females who are rejecting limiting sex stereotypes  imposed upon them. They may be autistic females (and males) looking for an explanation about why they struggle to accurately perform, socially mandated, gender roles.

The answer to all of this is that gender roles are not wholly “natural”. They are often performative. We have had Butch Lesbians and Femme Gay males forever.  Why are we making this so problematic? Why are we  willing to medicalise gender non-conformity? Where are so many, prominent, Gay Rights organisations going along with this?