I'm a member of an email group for psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand called Auspsyc. In 2020, there began a vigorous debate triggered by legislation in Victoria which affects psychiatrists who work there.
Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021, which passed into law, criminalises attempts to convert gays into being straight, and also attempts to dissuade people from gender transition. This is threatening to psychiatrists, especially adolescent psychiatrists who might see patients with gender dysphoria.
Another part of the Act concerns the possibility of the complainant's identity being anonymous.
Understandably, a number of psychiatrists were horrified that, after about 15 years of training, they might find themselves in a situation where they face a jail sentence of 10 years for basically doing their job.
Meanwhile, whereas Victoria was essentially criminalising counselling, another story has been playing out in the United Kingdom.
The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations is a well respected centre for psychotherapy in London. In 2009, Tavistock and Portman Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) was established to treat people with gender dysphoria, or discomfort with the gender they had been born into.
What Went Wrong at the Tavistock Clinic for Trans Teenagers? Special Report from The Times (June 17th, 2022).
It led to an independent review run by Dr Hilary Cass. The Cass Review. Following this review, GIDS was closed down.
A comprehensive book on the topic is: Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children, by Hannah Barnes.
Keira Bell, who began taking puberty blockers when she was 16, then medically transitioned and had surgery to remove her breasts as an adult. She later regretted this.
She sued the clinic, arguing she had been too young to consent to treatment as a teenager. The court agreed but this ruling was overturned on appeal in 2021.
Bell v Tavistock case and appeal.
The matter of 'detransitioners' is complicated by research of uncertain reliability. In general, trans-activists tend to say detransition is very rare and a distraction from their campaign of trans liberation. Detransitioners, on the other hand say that trans regret and detransition are common.
A survey of 203 people who detransitioned.
This article is by a transgender activist. Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children Debates by Julia Serano.
A video-blog reply to this article by Cari Stella, who detransitioned.
The number of people presenting at clinics for gender dysphoria have rocketed over the last few years. The sex ratio has also changed from being more male than female to a lot more female.
A chart of children referred to GIDS, the Tavistock and Portman Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service clinic in northwest London. Overall case numbers had risen – from just 72 in 2009-10 to 1,807 in 2016-17 – but there was something more puzzling. Female referrals, once a fraction of males, now made up 70 per cent: from 32 to 1,265. The number of teenage girls with gender dysphoria (ie profound discomfort with their biological sex) had risen by 5,000% in 7 years.
There are two distinct areas of dispute around transgender politics.
1) The medical management of teenagers with gender dysphoria
The matters discussed above concern medical practices, and whether they are being carried out appropriately, particularly with young people who may or may not be old enough to adequately provide consent. As seen in the graphs above, this particularly concerns teenage girls seeking F2M transition, many of whom can be thought of as lying on an autistic spectrum. Before the upswing in medical intervention, many of these girls would have become butch lesbians.
Supporters of medical transition for teenagers are often driven by fear of suicide. The evidence that medical transition reduces the risk suicide is by no means conclusive. E.g.:
Is Social Gender Transition Associated with Mental Health Status in Children and Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria? Archives of Sexual Behavior (4th April 2023)
'The present findings, although preliminary, suggest that social gender transition is not associated with mental health status in children and adolescents, at least in the short term.'
Many of these gay teenage girls on the spectrum do not do particularly well when they go through transition. There are high rates of detransition.
2) Conflict over access by M2F (Male to Female) trans people into protected women's spaces
The second area of conflict concerns tension between natal male transgender people, and women who feel that their protected spaces (women's sports, bathrooms, prisons, rape centres, etc) are being invaded. This conflict has played out in many public altercations in which trans-activists have attacked prominent feminists. There are many instances where the trans-activists have successfully cancelled speakers, or people who are in public positions in universities and elsewhere. The term TERF means trans-exclusionary radical feminist. It is a term of abuse aimed at women the trans-activists claim are trans-phobic.
Here are some examples.
Kathleen Stock is a philosopher who was hounded out of her job at Sussex University by trans-activists.
Various Youtubes here.
The problem with ‘trans women are women’ by Kathleen Stock. More of her writing on Unherd.
J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling is the famous author of the Harry Potter novels. She has spoken about trans-gender issues and has been a target of some attacks by trans-activists. Her views are summarised here.
A podcast called "The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling", is interesting.
J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues. A précis of the views she expresses in the podcast.
Aka Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull is a speaker for the group Standing for Women. Often her speaking engagements have been attacked by trans-activists. An event in Auckland led to violence towards her.
The shameful persecution of Posie Parker in New Zealand The Spectator, 25 March 2023
Isla Bryson case concerns Isla Bryson, a 31-year-old Scottish transgender M2F person from Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, who was convicted in January 2023 of the rapes of two women committed prior to Bryson's gender transition.
The case caused controversy after Bryson was remanded to a women's prison to await sentence.
3) Splitting in organisations triggered by transgender politics
Splitting is a defense mechanism that involves viewing people, situations, or events in black and white terms, without any shades of gray. This can lead to a person idealizing one person or group while demonizing another, without any attempt to reconcile their differing views or beliefs. Splitting can be especially prevalent in situations involving heated debates or disputes, where emotions run high and people feel strongly about their positions.
In relation to transgender debates, splitting can manifest in several ways. For example, some people may view all transgender individuals as either heroes or victims, without considering the complexities of their individual experiences. This can lead to a lack of empathy or understanding for those who have different viewpoints or experiences.
Similarly, cancel culture can be seen as a form of splitting, where individuals or groups are quickly and harshly judged based on one aspect of their beliefs or behavior. Cancel culture often does not allow for dialogue or understanding, and instead relies on extreme reactions to perceived offences.
Many organisations have been split by transgender politics. Here are some examples.
UK political parties. Gay and trans rights issues divide both Tories and Labour
Scottish National Party. Top SNP leadership candidates split over LGBT+ rights
The Australian Greens
Victorian Liberal Party
The Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Melbourne Comedy Festival