“We’re doing bad things to vulnerable kids”: BBC says staff concerns at Tavistock trans clinic were ignored

A shocking report by BBC Newsnight has revealed that staff at England’s only service offering gender reassignment services for young people and children, the Tavistock Trust, believe that real harm is being caused to children because they are being facilitated in rushing to make irreversible decisions about changing sex.  

The testimony of staff in the Newsnight report is disturbing. More than a hundred pages of transcripts of interviews with staff showed that they claim Tavistock is “doing bad things to vulnerable kids” and ‘medicating gay kids .. kids with autism … traumatized children’.

Tavistock runs a programme named the Gender Identity Development Service or GIDS which has become controversial in recent times after the resignation of a former governor, Marcus Evans, who said the service was too quick to give young people gender reassignment treatment.

To be clear this treatment involves firstly medicating children with puberty blockers and then continuing on a treatment pathway which can lead to a series of invasive surgeries including the removal or construction of sexual organs once the client has reached 18 years.



The staff whose concerns prompted the investigative report by BBC said that their concerns about the welfare of children attending the clinic were “shut down” and that young people with gender identity issues were being “medically mismanaged”. They claim that children may be left with a “lifetime of damage”.

Newsnight reveals that staff were discouraged from going to safeguarding officers with concerns about the welfare of children attending the clinic; that decisions about medical treatments were taken too quickly; that some parents seemed to prefer their children were trans rather than gay; and that some parents were pushing children towards transition, according to the transcripts.

Clinicians also felt that their jobs and careers would be under threat if they continued to raise concerns – and claimed the Director of GIDS, Polly Carmicheal, discouraged staff from bringing their disquiet and safety concerns to the Trust safeguarding lead. More than 40 clinicians have left Tavistock within three years.

Of particular concern is the rush to medicate young children using puberty blockers, drugs which “stop a young person’s body developing breasts, periods, facial hair or a deeper voice”, the BBC report explains. They point out that “the NHS has recently updated its guidance on these drugs acknowledging that little is known about their long-term effects or what impact they might have on children’s brains and bones”.

When distressed children are referred to GIDS, the NHS says it is expected that they would attend between three to six “detailed” assessment sessions over several months, before they are prescribed with puberty blocking drugs. In the staff testimonies uncovered by BBC, it is claimed by several staff “that one member of the GIDS leadership, Sarah Davidson, would refer children for treatment after only one or two appointments”.

“I was working with an executive on one case of assessment of a young person and the executive member agrees to refer this person to the medical pathway within the first hour of meeting him,” one staff member testified. “It should never happen because this is a pathway that will lead to huge, huge changes for this young person – you know, it could lead to potentially infertility and so on. We’ve been told that cases like this have been discussed at team meetings .. when some staff raised concerns about the speed of assessment we understand the response was typically that the young person was experiencing very intense and severe gender dysphoria.”

Tavistock has already been the subject of recent controversy and concern. A previous report by Dr David Bell, then the staff governor at the clinic, said Tavistock was exposing children to “long-term damage” because of its “inability to stand up to the pressure” from “highly politicised” campaigners and families demanding a fast-track to gender transition.

Disturbingly, that report indicated that some children “take up a trans identity as a solution” to “multiple problems such as historic child abuse in the family, bereavement” and also “homophobia and a very significant incidence of autism spectrum disorder” – and that they are “coached” to do so online and by transgender activist groups.

The controversy highlighted the role of Mermaids, a trans lobby group which were being ‘placated’ by the Tavistock clinic according to staff, and who, the experts claim, are falsely stating that refusal to treat children more quickly leads many of them to attempt suicide.

Most of the concerns arounf Tavistock are largely under-reported in the media however, as they continue to give prominence to the demands of transgender activists, and, as we have seen most recently with JK Rowling, publish headlines and stories demonising anyone who questions that narrative in any way at all.

The explosion in the number of children wanting to change sex has led the Minister for Women and Equalities in the UK to call for an inquiry. Penny Mordaunt says that a 4,400% increase in the number of girls being referred for gender transitioning might suggest that the role of social media and schools are an issue. Other MPs feel that children as young as 10 are too young to make an informed decision about such a drastic change.

There seems to be no equivalent concern for the safety of children from the Irish political equivalent or from most media commentators, and medical experts who speak out are being largely sidelined by the HSE and the press. Prof Dónal O’Shea, a consultant endocrinologist at St Vincent’s and St Columcille’s Hospitals in Dublin, most recently expressed serious concern  about the speed at which children are being prescribed puberty-blocking drugs in Ireland – and claimed that the underlying mental health issues of young people are not being addressed before starting medication.

He was one of a group of senior medical professionals who called for the suspension of puberty-blocking services being carried out by Tavistock clinicians for children at Crumlin Children’s Hospital, describing the practices as “unsafe”. The HSE didn’t even do them the courtesy of recording their concerns in the minutes of the meeting.

The HSE spent €380,541 in 2018 referring children from Ireland to the Tavistock, with 40 children attending the specialised service in that year. Almost one in four were girls aged between 12 and 14, the figures show.

The recent furore about the entirely sane and logical remarks made by JK Rowling in regard to sex and gender show just how toxic and censorious this debate is. Truth be told, there is no debate at all: there is merely the scientific and biological reality on the one hand, and an angry mob ready to shut-down, vilify and destroy anyone who points out that reality, on the other. Most people simply prefer to avoid acknowledging that a tiny minority of radical activists are succeeding in upending that biological reality and subjecting fragile youngsters to  what amounts to a series of destructive medical experiment because they are afraid of the mob, of cancel culture, and of the consequences they might face for pointing out the blindingly obvious.

As always, it is the most vulnerable children who will suffer the most from our cowardice and our reluctance to stand up to bullies whose social experiments will leave a great many destroyed lives in their wake.


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