Response to The Psychologist publishing misleading claims about trans healthcare reforms
Thu Aug 4, 2022 · 689 words · 4 min

This letter was sent by a Trans Safety Network researcher to the editor of The Psychologist on 4th August 2022.


Dear John Sutton

I’m writing concerning the publication of a letter in the psychologist yesterday which is seriously misleading and contains outright falsehoods. As a trans person, trans hate group researcher and former BPS graduate member I’m extremely concerned that The Psychologist is allowing itself to be used to legitimise misleading and false anti-trans talking points. As a volunteer monitor of organised anti-trans harm I’ve seen the effect slipping false claims into reputable places can have. It rapidly becomes treated as a fact, especially by those unware of the distinction between a peer reviewed article and a letter to the editor in your magazine. It spreads extremely fast and is very difficult to counter effectively.

To give an example of one of the results of the publication of your piece, it is now being promoted and quoted by anti-trans Green Party politician Shahrar Ali, with the headline in your organisation’s tweet serving to lend the authority of your publication to this one-sided agenda.

The piece claims “The interim report recommended a new service model which acknowledges multiple routes in and out of gender dysphoria.” This is flatly untrue. The interim report from the Cass Review is available in PDF form here. Searches for the phrase “multiple routes” “into gender dysphoria” and “out of gender dysphoria” all return no results. The 112 page document simply does not discuss routes into or out of gender dysphoria, and this is not the reason for switching to a new model. The idea that there are “multiple routes into and out of gender dysphoria” is one promoted by anti-trans conversion therapist Stella O’Malley. Attributing the rhetoric of conversion therapists to the Cass Review is extremely inappropriate and risks undermining public perception of the Cass Review as an unbiased and objective investigation.

The reason for switching to a new model is that it is not possible to provide timely and appropriate care with a single specialist centre in London. This is clearly stated in the summary on the Cass Review website, and is also clear from the BPS statement on the matter. It also follows on from the CQC report in which one of the points on which the GIDS service was told it must improve was unacceptable waiting times (over 2 years) for a first appointment.

“The rapid increase in the number of children requiring support and the complex case-mix means that the current clinical model, with a single national provider, is not sustainable in the longer term.” - Cass Review

A single London based clinic is only a functional model for very rare conditions, and with the average age trans people come out dropping significantly in the past decade, the Tavistock has been overwhelmed for years, and trans children have had to travel hundreds of miles to receive treatment.

The entire letter functions on the premise that the Cass Review interim report was hugely critical of elements of Tavistock practice that it simply was not critical of. It is vague and misleading, and gives the impression that the Cass Review has decided that children were harmed by being given access to medical transition, when the primary criticism is in reality that children spend years on waiting lists with no access to medical transition or any form of support.

Allowing anti-trans actors to mislead readers about the contents of the Cass Review, and putting the burden on trans people to debunk the lies you’ve chosen to print is not acting as a forum for debate, it’s just spreading misinformation.