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Gay young people being told they are transgender, says Kemi Badenoch

8 February 2024
Kemi Badenoch

In a letter to the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, Minister Kemi Badenoch, has raised concerns suggesting that gay young individuals are being misidentified as transgender.

She highlighted evidence from experts and former clinicians at the now closed NHS Tavistock child gender identity clinic, indicating a trend where children who might grow up to be same-sex attracted are being led towards gender transition, effectively undergoing what some are calling a form of conversion therapy.

The number of children seeking services from the NHS Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) has escalated from 250 in 2011-12 to over 5,000 in 2021-22.

She wrote: “I committed to providing further details on the evidence that children likely to grow up to be gay (same-sex attracted) might be subjected to conversion practices on the basis of gender identity rather than their sexual orientation.

“Both prospective and retrospective studies have found a link between gender non-conformity in childhood and someone later coming out as gay.

“A young person and their family may notice that they are gender non-conforming earlier than they are aware of their developing sexual orientation. If gender non-conformity is misinterpreted as evidence of being transgender and a child is medically affirmed, the child may not have had a chance to identify, come to terms with or explore a same-sex orientation.”

The minister also shared insights from a survey of individuals who regretted transitioning but felt pressured due to homophobia or difficulty in accepting their sexual orientation.

She quoted a German gender clinic saying the potential consequences of early hormone therapy “may interfere with the patient’s development as a homosexual.

"This may not be in the interest of patients who, as a result of hormone therapy, can no longer have the decisive experiences that enable them to establish a homosexual identity."

Badenoch's letter has received support from groups such as LGB Alliance which has long voiced concerns over the medicalisation of gender non-conforming children who are likely to be gay.

Bev Jackson, co-founder of LGB Alliance said: “The evidence is clear. The vast majority of young people being put onto irreversible medical pathways are attracted to their own sex.

“We are literally ‘transing the gay away’ when we should be helping them to understand and accept their sexuality and grow up to live happy, healthy lives as lesbians, gay men or bisexuals.”

Advocates argue for a more cautious approach, allowing children to explore their sexuality without the presumption of a transgender identity, likening the current trend to a modern form of conversion therapy.

Helen Joyce, from the women’s rights group Sex Matters, said: “It has been well-established for decades that children destined to grow up gay are far more likely than other children to be highly gender non-conforming in early youth.

“Such children need to be allowed to grow up in a safe, supportive environment, and to be allowed to discover their sexuality on their own timescale.

“Instead, trans ideology interprets gender non-conformity as a potential sign of a trans identity. This tragically misguided framing is today’s version of the historic atrocities of gay conversion therapy.”

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