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Controversy over trans activists' role in Scotland’s new child gender services

6 June 2024
Trans rally gender young people

Trans rights activists opposing the Cass Review are helping the SNP to establish a new NHS child gender service in Scotland.

Critics of the Cass Review, which raised concerns about treatment for children with gender issues, are part of a key group on gender identity healthcare – a group formed by the Scottish Government in 2022.

One member of the group – made up of activist organisations and academics, as well as doctors – has been found to be spreading disinformation undermining Hilary Cass’s findings. Meanwhile, another member, Dr Ruth Pearce, protested in Glasgow after a ban on puberty blockers was announced calling the decision “disgusting” and advocating for bodily autonomy for trans individuals, including children.

For Women Scotland has called for the removal of these members, arguing they are misusing their positions to discredit Dr Cass’s comprehensive study. Trina Budge, a director at For Women Scotland, stated, “They should not have been let anywhere near positions of influence over the NHS in the first place.”

“Members of this so-called healthcare group are being allowed to abuse their positions with attempts to rubbish the most comprehensive study of its kind ever carried out,

“They should not have been let anywhere near positions of influence over the NHS in the first place. But given their behaviour, continued membership is clearly untenable and they must be removed immediately.”

She added: “Members of a group like this should have been seriously and dispassionately reviewing Dr Cass’s findings and working out how to implement them in Scotland as soon as possible.

“Instead, they are spreading anti-scientific lies at extremist protest rallies and promoting disinformation to their colleagues.”

An email from TransparentSees urged the group members to review criticisms of the Cass Review, alleging the findings of the review were biased and harmful to trans children. The blog post described the review’s recommendations as prejudiced and accused Dr Cass of promoting “a form of conversion therapy.”

Dr Cass, who has been clear in her opposition of conversion therapy, advocates caution in social transition to prevent potentially irreversible medical interventions. She noted that gender distress in children might naturally resolve without medical intervention.

At a Glasgow rally, Dr Ruth Pearce criticised the ban on puberty blockers and claimed Dr Cass ignored evidence of their benefits. She alleged that the report excluded trans people and healthcare experts, despite extensive consultations.

Other members of the gender identity healthcare group include representatives from LGBT Youth Scotland – who support treatments like puberty blockers – and medical representatives from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which has also criticised the Cass Review.

A Scottish Government spokesman stated, “The National Gender Identity Healthcare Reference Group includes NHS health board representation, clinicians, academics, and the third sector.

"Engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, including those impacted by service or policy changes, is standard practice in the public sector.”

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