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Just end the stalling and give us answers over gender-switch children, Mr Hancock

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ON September 16, 2018, The Times reported that ‘an investigation has been ordered into why so many girls are seeking gender reassignment after the number referred for treatment rose by more than 4,000 per cent in less than a decade. The Equalities Minister, Penny Mordaunt, has instructed her officials to look into the cause’. 


In truth, this never promised very much. ‘Instructing … officials to look into the cause’ does not imply that the investigation will be wide-ranging or thorough, or open to the public. However, people immediately hoped.

 In the comments section under the article, one person 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?’ 


But by June last year, a year after the newspaper’s report, nothing further had been heard. The Times quoted Stephanie Davies-Arai, of Transgender Trend saying: ‘In 2019 we are still waiting for news of Penny Mordaunt’s promised inquiry.’  


I then decided to put in a Freedom of Information request to find out the status of the investigation. The reply that came from the Equalities Office confirmed my worst fears – that nothing much had happened.

It promised that there would be action soon. Indeed, it said, it would be ‘going out to tender in the coming weeks’, and ‘the start date will be agreed through that tendering exercise’ and ‘we anticipate that the work will commence this autumn’. That was last September.  

Earlier this year, I submitted a further FOI request to get an update. I referred back to my earlier FOI request and asked to see the tender which had gone out.  The response was: ‘Taking into account all the circumstances of this case, I have concluded that the balance of the public interest favours withholding this information.’ 

In terms of who had won the tender, the FOI response concluded: ‘After weighing up the competing public interest considerations, I have determined that the balance of public interest is in favour of withholding the information requested under Section 43(2) of the FOIA’. 

 So much for Freedom of Information! So much for the open, public approach we had all hoped for and which is so clearly called for. Since then, concerned folk have contacted me suggesting I challenge this decision. So I did. Here now are the relevant parts of the response which I have just received:


‘In your request you asked for information relating to The Government Equalities Office’s commission of research to analyse the trends in adolescent transitioning. I have carefully reviewed the handling of your request and I consider that the exemptions at sections 35(1)(a) and 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act were properly applied.

‘I believe that the balance of the public interest was fully considered for the reasons set out in our letter of 3 January. I have therefore concluded that I should uphold the decision given in our letter.

‘The Information Commissioner understands the term “formulation” of policy to refer to the early stages of the policy process where options are generated and analysed, including information gathering.

‘The exemption covers information which “relates to” the formulation or development of government policy. This is interpreted broadly: any significant link between the information and the activity is enough. It is not limited to information which contains policy options, advice or decisions.’ 

I also asked in my challenge to their decision: Are we to conclude from the FOI response that there will be no public investigation into the surge in gender treatment  when Penny Mordaunt seemed to imply there would be one? Is that a correct conclusion?

The response was: ‘We will still be carrying out research which explores the rise in referrals of adolescents to gender identity clinics as part of a wider piece of work. More information will be made available in due course.’ 

These references to ‘research’ and ‘commissioning of research’ suggest that perhaps there never was going to be a public inquiry. In truth, all the way back in September 2018, there was no further information following The Times’s announcements. It seems like we were perhaps engaged in wishful thinking all along. That we were being spun along.

Well, it is time to stop waiting, to start calling them out and to call again, more loudly this time, for that public inquiry. We need answers from Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and from Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities.

After so many people have resigned from the NHS’s gender clinics, including Marcus Evans, governor of the Tavistock Foundation – whose psychotherapist wife Susan quit the clinic in 2004 –  after so many people have become whistle-blowers and raised concerns about how we are treating gender-confused young people, when will the Government start taking the issue seriously? 


We are hearing, on an almost daily basis, from ever more young people who now regret taking hormones, changing their appearance for life, having healthy breasts removed, rendering themselves infertile, facing unknown further health consequences. This is just one …

How many is too many? 

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Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske is a former adviser to the New Zealand Government, served two terms as a Conservative councillor in Hammersmith & Fulham and is currently a full-time mother. She tweets as @carolinefff

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