Sinn Féin appears to have officially backed a comment made by Mid Ulster MLA Emma Sheerin that the party supports access to puberty blockers for “young trans teens” living in Northern Ireland.
Sheerin was responding to a question put to a panel at an event that took place as part of Belfast Pride last week.
Sheerin’s support for legislation to this effect was apparently backed up by a Party official who told the Newsletter that “Sinn Féin supports an update to gender recognition laws in the North to be harmonised with the South.”
Ironically, this “All Ireland” slant has previously been used to justify other controversial positions taken by Sinn Féin including the extension of abortion legislation to the north, and the lowering of corporation tax.
From a practical point of view as a party which has ambitions to return to its primary function of administering the part of Ireland under British jurisdiction, the statement referred to the right of people in the north to “access the healthcare treatments currently available to them on the NHS.”
The British health system has bizarrely become one of the icons of post nationalist Sinn Féin as it remodels itself on the lines of the British Labour Party.
In this context, the “healthcare” available to persons suffering from gender dysphoria under the National Health Service includes referral to the controversial Tavistock clinic, and an option for “a referral to a specialist hormone (endocrine) clinic for hormone blockers for children who meet strict criteria (at puberty.)”.
The site makes it clear that this applies to children under the age of 16, as after that age they may then be given “cross-sex hormones, also known as gender-affirming hormones.” This is despite the caveat contained among all of this that “Little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria.”
So, it would appear that this is what Sinn Féin supports. Their manifesto for the 2022 Assembly elections does not extend beyond equalitarian waffle on this or any other issue, and the Sinn Féin manifesto for the 2020 general election in the Republic confined itself merely to a commitment to “extending the Gender Recognition law to trans youth and non-binary persons.”
It skirted the reality of what any actual procedures to facilitate persons with gender dysphoria in “transitioning” by stating that they would “Reform our trans healthcare towards an informed consent model.”
In 2020, Sinn Féin’s Senator Fintan Warfield said that if the party was in government it would allow children under the age of 16 to take their parents to court in order to change their legal gender without parental consent.
The whole issue of “informed consent” in the context of children opting for life-changing procedures has been an issue of considerable controversy.
In the UK, itself, the High Court ruled in December 2020 that children under the age of 16 were unlikely to be capable of providing such consent. Which of course is the reason why children are not allowed to “consent” to lots of potentially harmful “rights.”
The announcement by NHS England in June of this year that puberty blockers will no longer be prescribed to children who experience gender confusion was welcomed by campaigners who say that the drugs can cause irreversible harm as a seismic move. Puberty blockers can now only be given to children as part of clinical research, the guidance says.
Sinn Féin’s apparent “republican” desire to see the same criteria be applied to the north as in the south would also mean that children can be prescribed puberty blockers.
This continues to be the case despite, as Gript has previously reported, the fact that a report published by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability and Youth in May 2021 referred to exactly the same caveats as are contained on the NHS site.
It also highlighted the conclusion of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health that there be “no medical interventions” – and this includes puberty blockers – in the case of children suffering from gender dysphoria.
The ironic thing about the Sinn Féin stance, and indeed the position of the entire Irish left liberal establishment of which it is a part, is that its putative “progressive” stance on the issue of giving puberty blockers to children is completely against the international trend. Including the far more critical attitude being adopted by sections of the traditional left in Europe and elsewhere.
Countries, including Sweden – which occupies an almost mystical place in the imaginations of Irish liberals, have put in place restrictions on their use – and they have been banned by several hospitals including the prestigious Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. Other countries such as France and Finland have begun to follow suit.
The position of our own liberal left including the Shinners is typical of their ideological myopia, and caught in some myth that they are escaping a dreadfully repressive past. Shorn of any credible claim to be even in the tradition of Irish radicalism they cleave to the clapped-out agenda pushed by the sort of cranks who were scorned by James Connolly as having infested the left even in his own time.
Sinn Féin are entitled to indulge in such crap, but not at the expense of the children they and others would sacrifice to their “progressive” agenda.