IN September last year, an article in the Times seemed to imply the welcome news that the Conservative Government might be admitting to problems in its approach to transgender issues (see more below). The sorry saga began in January 2016 when the the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, chaired by former equalities minister Maria Miller, recommended that people should be able to ‘self-identify’ their gender, with legal gender changes being as simple as signing a form.
Readers of TCW are familiar with the mess that ensued – not that we can blame Miller for all of it; she and her MP allies simply embraced and fast-forwarded a cultural trend spilling out from the internet and the wider flight from science, reason, and ancient morality in the West – resulting in a situation that now challenges free speech, science, reason, women and girls’ safety and opportunities, and freedom of conscience.
When the number of girls seeking gender reassignment surged more than 4,000 per cent in less than a decade, someone must have asked equalities minister Penny Mordaunt if she had any concerns. On September 16, 2018, the Times duly reported that ‘an investigation has been ordered into why so many girls are seeking gender reassignment’. It said: ‘The equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, has instructed her officials to look into the cause.’ A typical reader’s comment below this welcome news said ‘Thank heavens sanity is catching up!! Concerned parents have been tirelessly trying to draw attention to this. Whilst society is dragging their heels, countless youths are now experiments, medically harmed unnecessarily. Who’s going to fix this?’
Many of us welcomed the news and waited to find out how we could participate in Mordaunt’s review.
In June this year, the Times published more figures on young people seeking gender reassignment. It reported that almost three-quarters of children seeking help to change their gender are girls; that the majority (54 per cent) are aged 14 and under, and that the youngest patients are aged three. It quoted Stephanie Davies-Arai, of Transgender Trend, a group that questions the rise in the number of children identifying as transgender, saying: ‘We need an inquiry into why there has been such an unprecedented increase in the number of teenage girls who are unhappy at being girls, and it should be understood within a context of adolescent girls’ mental health. In 2019 we are still waiting for news of Penny Mordaunt’s promised inquiry.’
Reading that last sentence stirred me to action. I submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out the status of this urgent inquiry, of enormous importance to countless families across the country. Guess what?
Nearly a year since the first Times article, it seems that virtually nothing has happened. Was it not urgent enough or important enough? How many teenage girls is urgent enough?
Here are the questions I asked and the answers provided. At least TCW can report that something will happen soon, with a research tender for the review finally being prepared. We will be watching for the tender and will attempt to keep you updated.
I submitted the request on 31 July and received the response on 2 September.
My FOI request (ref no FOI328372 02/09/2019):
Could you please provide me with:
1) The terms of reference of the review
2) The date when work officially began
3) The date at which it will report
4) Who is working on it
5) What evidence and information they will seek
6) Any interim findings that you are happy to publish at this stage.
In response to Question 1, we are currently in the process of developing the research tender and therefore the terms of reference have not been agreed at this point . . . Further details on the terms of reference will be available at a later stage.
In response to Question 2, in a bid to better understand why so many young people, particularly girls, are being referred, the government has been reviewing evidence from gender identity services in other countries since the start of the year. We will be going out to tender in the coming weeks. The start date will be agreed through that tendering exercise but we anticipate that the work will commence this autumn.
In response to Question 3, we do not currently hold this information as the tender has not been agreed with a delivery partner at this stage.
In response to Question 4, the Government Equalities Office are in the process of commissioning this research and will work closely with the delivery partner.
In response to Question 5, this research will aim to improve our understanding of the experiences of young people who transition; the effects of transitioning, both short-and long-term; and the factors behind the recent increase in the number of young people who are seeking medical treatment for their gender identity.
In response to Question 6, this information is not currently held.