One of the foremost experts working with people who want to change gender has warned Education Minister, Norma Foley, of the danger of ignoring medical evidence when it comes allowing 16-year olds to change their sex without parental consent.
Prof Dónal O’Shea, the senior consultant endocrinologist with the National Gender Service (NGS), and one of a limited number of senior medical experts in Ireland with experience in the area, said that the Minister and other politicians needed to listen to doctors on the issue – and that young people were being put at risk by the proposals.
In a hard-hitting interview with the Irish Daily Mail he warned that: “Minister Foley is ignoring international medical trends in favour of populist statements.”
He pointed out that other countries, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, had pulled back from such proposals – and he said that the number of people who regretted changing sex and then had to undergo a process of ‘detransitioning’ was growing.
The medical expert also said that gender dysphoria was a “phenomenally complicated area”, but that the HSE and Department of Health were “ignoring” what the clinicians working in the area are saying.
As revealed by John McGuirk on Gript earlier this week, Minister Foley told the Dáil that her government was committed to helping teenagers change gender without parental consent – explaining that they wished to extend “self-declaration to this age group” by removing steps they decided were “onerous”.
Individuals aged 16 and 17 currently require parental consent and a court order in order to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate. In line with the commitments in the Programme for Government, the Government is planning to make this less onerous by extending self-declaration to this age group, with counselling supports for these families. Draft heads of a bill to implement this recommendation have been approved by Government and are being sent for pre legislative scrutiny.
The Gender Recognition Certificate process allows any individual to legally change from male to female or vice-versa by filling out a two-page form, potentially putting them on a pathway for the medical process of transitioning or changing sex.
Prof O’Shea, who has 25 years experience in the field, spelled out the dangers of the allowing teenagers to engage in the process, and said that politicians were “afraid” to say anything that opposed transgender activists views.
He said that 16-year olds were “too young” to make decisions that could have serious and perhaps irreversible impacts on their lives – including irreversible surgery.
“If they have the money and the certificate saying they are female, they can have male-to-female surgery,” he said. “They will get it if they pay.”
He said that transgender activists has “hijacked” the debate, and that politicians were afraid of opposing their views.
Prof O’Shea said that he and other medical experts who have been helping people who are gender-questioning for 25 years were opposed to the proposal announced by Foley because a child of 16 was too young to make that decision – and he added that “there isn’t the capacity to provide family counselling at the kind of level required for them to make that kind of decision”.
On Newstalk this week, Prof O’Shea described the proposals as “incredibly dangerous”.
“Giving a 16-year-old a cert that will allow them to access surgery in another country is incredibly dangerous. We know that people do that once they get the cert,” the clinician said.
And he said that ‘no argument’ can be made sensibly in favour of self-declaration for teens.
The National Gender Service has said that up to 90% attending their service were presenting with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.