We believe that there are many routes that may lead to the development of distress over an individual’s gender. Equally, there are just as many routes out of such distress.
That’s why we would like to see a wider range of treatment options and more evidence-based approaches to gender-questioning children and young people.
What does Genspect strive for?

We want to see schools, colleges and higher education establishments hold neutral space for students as they explore their gender, sexual orientation and identity formation. We value supportive environments for students, so they feel neither encouraged nor discouraged to follow certain paths. 

We advocate for an evidence-based approach to gender distress, and we would like health care professionals to take the time and care to evaluate the low-evidence base for the current affirmative approach, looking more closely at the harms that medical treatment paths can cause. We recognize the high occurrence of comorbidites such as autism and ADHD among children and young people who are questioning their gender.

We would like to raise public awareness of the issues facing gender-questioning children and young people. We wish to help create a society that supports gender non-conformity — one which doesn’t require the heavy burden of medical treatment. We acknowledge that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are often gender non-conforming; rather than suppressing hormonal urges with medication, we support an approach that allows adolescents to explore their sexuality with freedom and acceptance.

Finally, in this fast-paced world, we advocate for a slower, more thoughtful approach to any difficulties that children and young people face.

Is Genspect affiliated with any political or religious groups?

No. We are a non-partisan, independent organization, with members hailing from across the political spectrum and holding a range of personal beliefs. Our interest relates exclusively to the well-being and safeguarding of children and young people, and does not extend to party-political or religious allegiance. We welcome people of all faiths and none.

What is Genspect’s position on sexuality?

Genspect wholeheartedly supports the rights of sexual minorities in society and is proud to include many gay and lesbian members of our team. We abhor homophobia and biphobia and have a zero-tolerance policy towards such forms of discrimination. We stand alongside members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities in continuing to fight prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation.

Why do you say “gender-questioning” instead of “trans”?

Identity in children and young people is often flexible, changing throughout adolescence and early adult years. We challenge the idea that gender identity is a permanent property: using terms such as “trans kids” indicates immutability, and may conceal a far more nuanced and fluid reality. A change in gender identity can sometimes manifest as a concrete physical solution to a psychic trauma that leads to a belief parts of the self can be discarded or left behind. It is the role of the clinician to encourage the young person to understand their less conscious, inner defenses and motivations. This can be painful work and should be done in an empathetic and slow paced manner, respecting the young person’s defenses.  When we use the word “trans,” we are talking about people who have undergone medical transition — sometimes more explicitly termed “transsexuals” — and not making a statement about gender identity.

Is Genspect welcoming to trans people?

Yes. We value open and honest discussion between the trans community and others to ensure that strongly held beliefs about sex and gender do not overpower one another. We have no prejudice against trans people in any way: one of our advisors is trans, as are many of our supporters.

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Our stance is that contentious issues should be worked through respectfully: so long as that condition is met, we welcome contributions from transgender people. Some people think we should change our bodies; others think we should change our minds. Both viewpoints have their merits, and discussion between the two should be possible.

Is Genspect welcoming to people who are transphobic?

No. We treat everyone with respect and dignity, whether or not they are trans. Transphobia is real, and it’s ugly: Genspect will not tolerate hateful or dehumanizing rhetoric towards trans people under any circumstances. We believe that members of the trans community deserve the same fundamental rights as all of us.

What is Genspect’s position on medical transition in children and young people?

We do not believe that children are equipped to make life-long decisions about medical transition procedures. Adolescence and young adulthood is a key developmental stage during which identity is evolving. We believe that young people should be encouraged to accept — and to love — their bodies. We do, however, support the rights of mature adults to make informed healthcare choices regarding medical transition.

So why not support medical transition, if you don’t believe in discrimination?

Human sexuality requires no medical interventions. In contrast, medical transition carries a heavy burden on the body. If left to develop naturally, many kids who are exploring their gender would grow up to be gay or lesbian, so setting them on a path of medicalization can be seen as a form of homophobic discrimination in itself.

What are puberty blockers?

Puberty blockers are drugs which change young bodies in ways we have yet to understand, and may be permanent. This is an experimental treatment program: puberty blockers have never been licensed to treat children with gender dysphoria, in any country. They block sexual development, sexual desire, organ growth and cognitive function — and that doesn’t even cover the unknown long-term effects which we are yet to understand. By prescribing puberty blockers, clinicians are interfering with the emotional, developmental and social stages which every human must experience to become a fully-functioning adult. When a child enters into a simulated chemical puberty through the means of cross-sex hormones, there is no indication that this has the same impact as natural, biological puberty.

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Puberty blockers have often been used in cases of precocious puberty, where very young children (e.g. five years old) start to experience developmental changes long before they are ready. However, quite suddenly, in the wake of two Dutch studies, a decision was made to use these drugs to treat gender issues. This new “Dutch Protocol” quickly took hold in other countries, at the same time as — and perhaps due to — the extraordinary explosion in the numbers of gender-questioning adolescents. However, from 2020 onwards, countries in Europe have begun rolling back this protocol.

It is vital to stress almost all children prescribed puberty blockers go on to transition medically. The proportion who take puberty blockers but do not continue to take cross-sex hormones is tiny, at roughly 2%. This makes the claim that puberty blockers are simply delaying a developmental stage until a more appropriate time entirely false. The bone, brain and cardiovascular health issues which puberty blockers engender are infrequently discussed, as is the fact that puberty-blocked boys develop so little penile tissue that subsequent genital surgeries become far more complex and risky.

What is the Dutch Protocol?

The Dutch Protocol is the current basis for medically transitioning youth. Prior to the Dutch experiment, only mature adults (above 30-35 years old) were allowed to transition. Because those results were suboptimal, with persistent distress and mental illness despite the transition, the Dutch researchers hypothesized that through early intervention they could achieve better cosmetic outcomes — and happier and better-functioning adult trans people as a result. This hypothesis leaves a lot to be desired. Genspect calls on other countries to follow the progressive Scandinavian model: not only is it more scientifically rigorous, it also makes space for non-traditional gender roles.

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The Dutch experiment involved identifying 12-14-year-olds who had a life-long persistent and consistent gender dysphoria that worsened during puberty, screening them extensively. They were then administered with puberty blockers between 12 and 14 years old, cross-sex hormones at 16, and genital and non-genital surgeries when they turned 18. 

The Dutch researchers followed their study subjects to the average age of 21. They found that although puberty blockers did not alleviate gender dysphoria, surgeries did, and the patients reported feeling happy with their choices. What the Dutch researchers relegated to a footnote was the fact that, of the original 70 patients, only 55 were followed. Of the remaining 15 patients, a significant number developed complications that made them ineligible for surgery. Several patients refused to participate in the follow-up, which would be extraordinary in any other field of medicine. Tragically, one young patient died following complications from genital surgeries. And yet, the Dutch Protocol continues to be considered the gold standard by so many advocates of transition.

There are many reasons why rolling out the Dutch Protocol across the world is reckless:

  • There are no data on the long-term psychological outcomes for gender-reassigned youth: one year after surgery is not sufficient follow-up. 
  • We do not know anything about the short- or long-term physical health outcomes. However, we do know that one person died, and there were several serious complications among others of the initial 70, which got only cursory mention by the Dutch researchers.
  • The Dutch team disqualified any patients who had adolescent-onset gender dysphoria, the predominant presentation that is now treated with the Dutch Protocol.
  • They explicitly discouraged social transition, as they believed it would harm both the majority of the kids who would desist, and the minority who would persist. The latter would need good knowledge of biology, in order to thrive in their altered bodies that only approximate the desired sex and don’t operate as such.
  • The Dutch gender clinic population is very different from every other country’s gender clinic populations; in particular, the Dutch patients have fewer patients with mental ill health. 
  • While the UK study followed the same protocol as the Dutch, it failed to replicate the results. In fact, the preliminary UK data (published in a separate report but not included in the study) showed that some kids, especially girls, develop increased suicidal ideation while on puberty blockers. 
  • The Dutch researchers recently voiced concerns about the fact that their careful experiment is being promoted worldwide, without the thorough screening, assessment and follow-up which would constitute responsible practice. In particular, they highlighted the possibility that youths whose gender distress began at adolescence may benefit from psychological, rather than medical, interventions. 

Several countries (Sweden, the UK and Finland) have recently banned the use of the Dutch Protocol in minors under 16 or 18 in regular clinical settings, insisting that these interventions either cannot be provided ethically to minors, or should be provided only in rigorous clinical trials with proper informed consent. 

What is Genspect’s position on scientific research?

We believe that good science comes from a spirit of free enquiry. When it comes to issues concerning sex and gender, we have seen a tremendous asymmetry of information, at the expense of scientific rigor. From the harmful effects of puberty blockers to WPATH’s low-quality evidence base, there is much to be improved when it comes to the quality of the research on gender-questioning children.  

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Poor-quality studies that purport the benefits of puberty blockers are published uncritically, and are heavily promoted, despite the many known problems in both the data source and the analysis methods. At the same time, powerful critiques of such studies, which point out the flaws and how these render the positive findings highly unreliable are censored by the same editors.

What is Genspect’s problem with the research as it stands?

We believe that censorship is the problem. Many studies’ abstracts, available free of charge, cherry-pick the most positive outcomes, with the fine print of negative outcomes and limitations hidden behind a paywall.  A prime example of this is a UK study that compared the outcomes of children who were on puberty blockers with those who were on the waiting list. While the abstract reported that puberty-blocked children had better outcomes at 12 months compared to the control group, the study behind the paywall painted a markedly different picture. After 18 months, there was no clinically or statistically significant difference between the two groups of children in terms of their function: puberty blockers failed to show improvement. 

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These sorts of biases permeate virtually every study published today in the space of gender medicine. Beside the visible results of activism successfully silencing inquiry into the causes of gender dysphoria and how to treat it, the far more pernicious result is invisible: a number of researchers have given up trying to publish, or even study, the topic, as they know their work will not be published, regardless of its quality. This appears to be the desired outcome by the proponents of the medicalization of minors, who openly state that it’s “transphobic” to study gender dysphoria.

Providing medical interventions for the estimated 2-4% of young people who now claim a trans identity is a lucrative, multibillion dollar business for pharma companies, hospitals and physicians who provide these interventions. The parallels are many with the opioid epidemic and the epidemic of overprescribing drugs to youth (Study 329); the pharmaceutical industry has played an unsavory role in ensuring that only positive outcomes are published, and negative ones suppressed.  When it comes to “gender medicine,” we see the history repeating, with similar — if not more devastating — long-term results.

What about gender identity?

In our view, many contemporary ideas about the transgender phenomenon derive from the theory of gender identity, a belief system which posits that every one of us has an invisible, unprovable and unfalsifiable gender identity. We simply don’t believe that the case for gender identity has been made, and we certainly don’t think it’s a basis for medicalization.

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“Gender identity” is a concept that was initially developed by two clinicians in the 1950s and 1960s, John Money and Robert Stoller, as a result of their work with people with Developmental Sex Disorders (also known as intersex). Stoller first hypothesised that every one of us has an unidentifiable, invisible element inside us that motivates us to behave in certain ways and that subscribes to certain gender norms and expectations. John Money agreed, pronouncing that Gender identity is the private experience of gender role, and gender role is the public manifestation of gender identity.”

Gender identity theory posits that we all have an invisible gender identity within us and that some of us have been born in a body that is not matched with our gender identity. Others do not subscribe to this belief, and consider themselves “gender critical.” Gender critical theory argues instead that we are simply born in — and as — bodies, and although gender roles are imposed upon us, these need not be perceived as an identity. They can simply be rejected: many just learn to live with certain gender roles. 

The biopsychosocial model suggests that a combination of biology, psychology and society will drive certain behaviors, which manifests as our identity. The differences between these viewpoints seem to be the root of the majority of the controversy that currently surrounds gender politics. 

All of these theories deserve the right to be heard, studied and debated in academic settings. The dangers emerge when unproven academic theories enter public institutions, and begin to operate as guiding principles for a range of vital decisions that impact the lives of young people. We believe this has occurred with the concept of gender identity, which is now unduly influencing key policies, from law and education to healthcare.

What does Genspect believe about gender?

Gender is a culturally variable set of behavior and personality expectations applied to sexed bodies. We appreciate that identity formation is an important psychosocial stage of development for youths, from pubescence to early adulthood, and this can present as an identity crisis. We believe that a change in identity can sometimes present as a concrete resolution of a trauma, leading young people to believe that they can leave their old selves behind them. 

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We prefer a biopsychosocial approach that includes the holistic view of the individual. Biology probably plays a role in the development of feminine or masculine preferences, but there is also a well-documented 30% overlap between feminine and masculine traits in both sexes. As a result, there will naturally be a small proportion of boys whose tastes and preferences are more feminine than most girls’; the same goes for a small number of girls who will have traits and preferences more masculine than the majority of boys. 

However, whether or not a feminine boy or a masculine girl conceptualize themselves as transgender individuals are subject to cultural and environmental factors. Further, this conceptualization is not fixed in young people, and can change both slowly, as well as dramatically and unexpectedly, in either direction. 

This lack of a durable biological underpinning of a transgender identity is demonstrated best by studies involving identical twins, which show that only 28% of the twin pairs will have both twins developing a trans identity, despite having identical genes. It is also demonstrated that by the fact that 67% of children who met all the criteria of the diagnosis of gender identity disorder (and over 90% of those who experience sub-clinical levels of gender distress) will desist from their trans identity before adulthood. 

The desistance data for individuals whose trans identity emerged for the first time post-puberty is not yet available, but thousands of such young people, known as “detransitioners” and “desisters” are actively engaged in online communities sharing their experiences, which are profoundly traumatic for many.

So, is sex binary? What about intersex people?

Sex is binary. The sex of an individual is based on their reproductive anatomy and is determined by the type of gamete this anatomy is organized, through natural development, to produce. For over 99.9% of people, the sex of a person as female or male is unambiguous, determined at conception, and observable, whether prior to birth (by chromosomal analysis or sonogram) or at birth. We know what we’re talking about on this: two of our team members were born with intersex conditions.

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In a rare <0.1% of cases, people can have a Disorder (Difference) in Sexual Development, or DSD. In most cases of DSD, the individual is still clearly of male or female sex, although additional workup may be required in some cases to clarify the sex. For example, some individuals can be XY females (with female genitalia), and others XX males (with male genitalia), although such situations are extremely rare. Instances when  sex cannot be determined exist, but are exceedingly rare. 

Does this presence of DSDs invalidate the binary nature of sex? Although some activists have leveraged these extremely unusual situations to invalidate the binary nature of sex in humans, this is an unscientific stance. To illustrate this, consider this example: a coin is well-understood to have heads and tails, and if flipped will land on a head or a tail with roughly a 50/50 probability of each option. Yet extremely rarely, a flipped coin will land on its edge. This fact, however, does not invalidate the fact that the coin has two sides, nor the expected outcome of a coin flip — which is that it is highly unlikely to land on its edge.

Sex in humans is binary and immutable. Unlike other species that have environmental sex determination that can change according to environmental factors like temperature (reptiles, for example), humans have genetic sex determination. Undergoing gender reassignment does not change a person’s sex, but can powerfully alter the way the body appears. Recently, the importance of biological sex has been reaffirmed by the Endocrine Society Scientific Statement.

What about brain studies? Don’t they prove that trans identities are firmly rooted in biology?

Scientists have not been able to locate a “gender area” of the brain that is innate and fixed: when controlled for sexual orientation and exposure to hormonal interventions, the brains of trans-identified individuals cannot be reliably distinguished from the brains of people of the same sex who do not identify as transgender.

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That’s why there is really no test to identify if an individual is truly transgender. The diagnosis is based on a self-reported feeling. Although this is not the only condition that’s diagnosed from a subjective state (like depression and anxiety), it’s arguably the only condition where a self-reported feeling leads to a cascade of irreversible, risky and highly experimental medical interventions for young people. 

There is also plenty of evidence that gender identity can change and evolve, especially in young people. This is entirely consistent with what we know about brain function: the brain is plastic, open to influence and suggestion, and responsive to nurture, environment and experience. 

What’s your stance on medical care?

We are deeply concerned with the medical care that gender-questioning and gender-dysphoric children are receiving. Children and young people in the West are treated with a highly experimental protocol that was not designed for the group to which it’s commonly applied: adolescents with no childhood history of alienation from their body. 

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This protocol (known as the Dutch Protocol) leaves children infertile and dependent for life on cross-sex hormones and invasive surgeries, both of which carry serious risks. It is not known if this treatment will help or harm young people long-term. 

We are heartened that the tide is starting to turn in Europe. Sweden, the UK and Finland have sharply curbed the provision of these off-label interventions for young people, and are now prioritizing psychological support. However, the rest of the Western world, especially North America and Australia, is aggressively scaling this treatment model, and even moving to outlaw psychological interventions.  

We believe that only mature and well-informed adults can consent to medical interventions that permanently change their bodies and their psychosexual development trajectories. Until mature adulthood is reached, jumping in with syringes and scalpels to change the body to match the shifting sense of gender identity is irresponsible and — under almost every circumstance — highly unethical. 

What are the risks of medical intervention?

Recently, several systematic reviews of evidence conducted by independent health authorities in Europe (the UK, Sweden and Finland) have sounded the alarm about the significant risks of medical interventions with gender-dysphoric young people, and the weak evidence of benefits. The risks range from adverse effects on bone and brain to infertility — or even premature death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. There are yet more unknown risks, which will emerge as more people stay on these drugs for life. The risks of surgeries themselves are also significant, often involving urinary complications and long-term pain

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The “low certainty” of the benefits — as well as the known risks of these interventions — have led to a landmark decision by Sweden on May 1, 2021 to stop providing these interventions in regular clinical settings for minors. Likewise, in 2020 the UK stopped all such prescriptions for minors under 16: the UK government is currently evaluating a new policy. 

Other countries, including Finland, have made “softer” revisions to their policies, but with a clear message: until we understand the cause of the rapid rise of gender dysphoria in young people, and know how to help them best in the long-term, hormonal and surgical interventions should be delayed until the individual is emotionally mature — an age which will vary from person to person, especially when other conditions are taken into account. 

What’s Genspect stance on gender non-conformity?

Genspect believes that we should embrace gender non-conformity. Girls should be able to play with fire trucks; boys should be able to play with dolls. As they grow up, they should be allowed to experiment to find a personal style that matches their personality and preferences. However, treating these preferences as a basis for exclusion from a child’s biological sex imposes regressive gender norms on kids: bucking these norms is common, and should not be mistaken for gender dysphoria. A truly progressive society embraces all personalities, whether or not they match traditional stereotypes. 

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We also believe that if society sends strong negative messages to young people about their non-conformity, we must do two things: help someone become resilient to these messages; and work assiduously to make society become more accepting. We believe gender-nonconformity should be celebrated in society, and that no one needs to undergo risky procedures to change their bodies to be more “acceptable” to themselves or anyone else. 

How can we help children and young people who are questioning their gender?

We believe that children should be allowed to explore their own identities at their own pace, without adults jumping to assumptions about them. Whether we are male or female, gay or straight, small or tall, blue-eyed or brown-eyed, we are all born in the only body available! If anyone is born in the wrong body, surely people with physical challenges like spina bifida and cerebral palsy should be at heart of this debate. Learning to love and take care of your body is a key part of growing up and growing old. The transition from troubled child to happy, confident adult is always possible.

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We also believe that young people who are distressed by their feelings — beyond the expected growing pains when ideas and concepts of self are tested against reality — need access to high quality mental health. Unfortunately, transition has never been demonstrated to improve long-term mental health outcomes; believing that medical transition will be the answer to distress is a perilous position to take.

Several of Genspect’s advisors and parents have unfortunately witnessed first-hand mentally distressed youth spiral downwards after transitioning, sometimes ending in tragedy. Often, that experience motivates people to become more involved in campaigning for better standards of care. These vulnerable youths regret being “affirmed” and should have had the more conventional and long-established psychotherapeutic approach.

A cautious, least-invasive-first approach is utilized in clinical best practice: for this reason, Genspect firmly believes that psychotherapy should be a first-line treatment for gender-questioning young people before medical interventions such as puberty-blockers, cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgery are considered.

What is the truth about detransition?

The research on detransition is paltry, and detransitioners’ testimonies are — with scant exception — overlooked. Members of our team work extensively with detransitioners, and Genspect wants to bring their voices to the fore. It’s important that people who regret transition have their own voice, uncensored and unexploited.

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A recent study of 237 detransitioners demonstrated that, for a large majority of them, transition did not resolve their emotional distress:

Forty-five percent of the whole sample reported not feeling properly informed about the health implications of the accessed treatments and interventions before undergoing them. A third (33%) answered that they felt partly informed, 18% reported feeling properly informed and 5% were not sure. The most common reported reason for detransitioning was realiz[ing] that my gender dysphoria was related to other issues (70%). The second one was health concerns (62%), followed by transition did not help my dysphoria (50%), found alternatives to deal with my dysphoria (45%).

This study shows how transitioning does not necessarily provide the answer to gender-related distress. We prefer the foundational principal: “First, do no harm.”

What is the risk of suicide among gender dysphoric children and young people?

Although it is often perceived that gender-questioning young people are at high risk of suicide, their suicidality is similar to that of adolescents with any other mental health issue, and lower than conditions such as eating disorders and body dysmorphia. While gender-questioning young people need extensive emotional and psychological support, parents should know that suicidality is still a risk after medical transition, and so transitioning will not necessarily help.

Are all types of gender dysphoria the same?

No. This is a quickly changing landscape, and we simply don’t have enough research into this expanding condition. However, there are certainly two distinct types of gender dysphoria, and probably more. The key distinction is based on the time of the onset of transgender ideation and bodily distress. 

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Until recently, the most typical presentation — “early-onset gender dysphoria” — occurred in early childhood, and predominantly affected boys. The majority of such children reidentified with their biological sex on reaching maturity, many growing up to be gay or bisexual. The other variant that has been long recognized is adolescent-onset gender dysphoria. However, this was rare, and also primarily affected boys; it is believed to be in part connected with the development of a gay identity or unusual sexual behavior (e.g., sexual arousal from cross-dressing). Roughly 70% turn out to be gay; roughly 80% grow out of it altogether.

However, since around 2015, there has been an extraordinary surge in the number of individuals who present with dysphoria and seek to transition medically — often with none of the typical presentations historically associated with gender dysphoria. While most of them are girls, there has recently been an increase in boys. In many cases, the internet and peer-group involvement has been a key factor in these young people’s identities. Other common factors include neurodiversity (as these kids are often on the autistic spectrum or the ADHD spectrum), giftedness and significant mental health difficulties that often predate their focus on transition. 

This phenomenon has been documented by every gender clinic in the world, and has been given several names, including “post-pubescent onset of trans identity”, “late-onset gender dysphoria”, “post-puberty adolescent-onset transgender histories” and most commonly “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD). In their bid to be taken seriously, some of the teenagers presenting with this type of gender dysphoria are sometimes rewriting their personal histories to account for the way they now feel.

Although not yet recognized as an official diagnosis, clinicians around the world are very concerned with this newly predominant presentation: we don’t understand its etiology, and there is a complete lack of scientific basis for the provision of risky and irreversible procedures to people who are so young.

What is the future prognosis for different kinds of gender dysphoria?

Various studies show that plenty of kids with early-onset gender dysphoria — perhaps some four fifths of the total — will outgrow it naturally, if not “affirmed” as members of the opposite sex but loved and supported as they are. We do not yet know about the trajectories of those whose gender dysphoria has developed in adolescence; however, there is growing evidence that these trans identities, too, may often be temporary in nature. Increasing numbers of young people in their mid-to-late twenties share stories of identifying as trans for a few months to several years, but then experiencing a natural re-identification with their sex. 

What about kids who are much happier when parents accept they are trans?

Children thrive when they have loving and engaged parents and good relationships with peers. Shaming children and young people for being gender non-conforming is harmful and wrong. But socially transitioning — “affirming” someone as a member of the opposite sex — can have unforeseen, detrimental consequences and has not been demonstrated to improve outcomes. In fact, the Dutch Protocol (the sole basis for the current approach to intervening medically with gender-dysphoric youth) explicitly discouraged the social transition of children and early adolescents. 

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A parent’s responsibility does not just lie in the here and now: while it may seem easier in the short term to seek transition for a gender-non-conforming or dysphoric young person, we believe that children and young people should be allowed to reach the age of maturity before irreversible decisions are made. Adults labeling children or assuming that these labels will persist into later life is not a good parenting practice, whether or not children are exploring their gender or have other issues. It’s vital to help parents find a balance between accepting gender non-conforming behavior and providing thoughtful guidance on the reality of biology.

At what age does Genspect believe people can make the decision to transition medically?

We are in favour of the rights of mature adults to make their own decisions. The current state of the research indicates that most people do not fully mature until 25, in terms of cognitive function and the development of the personality; for this reason, we have grave qualms about anyone below this age making the decision to transition. We also believe that those classed as “vulnerable adults” — a specific legal term in the UK and Ireland — may take even longer to develop a stable social and sexual identity. It is possible to accept the principle that adults in general should be free to pursue their own happiness while also accepting that vulnerable adults are not well-placed to make major decisions.

What’s the role of schools and teachers?

Many parent groups report that schools are inadvertently contributing to the growing incidence of gender dysphoria (which inexplicably increased by a factor of twenty or thirty within a single decade in most developed countries). This is in part because education policies have become one-sided, repositioning gender non-conformity as a “transgender” identity and teaching children that sex is nothing more than a menu of hormones from which they can choose.

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These ideas, represented by playful graphics of the “gender unicorn,” are no more scientific than the ideas of creationism. Although individuals are free to subscribe to any set of beliefs, schools must not misrepresent a belief — no matter how passionately held — as science.  

It’s particularly problematic when schools take part in “social transition.” Social transition is a psychosocial intervention with life-long consequences, which teachers are neither trained nor licensed to undertake. Although it may seem like an easy solution, schools are not there to make life simple for teachers: even if it means difficulty during the school day, teachers should encourage kids to strike out as individuals, rather than seeking out what seem to be the immediate answers.

Aren’t you just denying trans people’s right to exist?

We believe people when they say that they feel they’re born in the wrong body. We also believe those who say that they feel much better after medical transition. At the same time, we also believe people who did transition and subsequently regretted it, whether they reversed the procedure or continued to live with the changes they made because it was too difficult to “go back”. Likewise, we believe adults who recall extreme gender non-conformity, feeling trapped in the wrong body, and other forms of gender dysphoria as kids. Many of our members have joined Genspect for this exact reason: none of us still feel this way as mature adults, and we are relieved to have grown up in a time before the medical transition of minors became so popular. 

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It is precisely these beliefs that compel us to speak out and help young people explore all non-invasive options before committing to a lifetime of irreversible and risky medical interventions. There is no evidence that transiting early improves long term outcomes. The only long-term study of a child who transitioned in her teen years paints a sobering picture. This individual reported being content with the decision for many years; however, after 22 years, maintaining a long-term relationship had become almost impossible, and feelings of profound shame about genitalia had emerged. Until more data are available on the long-term functioning of children who transitioned early, we are calling for non-invasive alternatives to be explored extensively, delaying any permanent interventions until the stage of mature adulthood.

What can Genspect do for people who share our beliefs?

We help to provide an alternative source of information for parents, addressing the (often overwhelming) bias in other online resources. We can also help people in the healthcare, education and media sectors, who are increasingly observing the same lack of objectivity. Our voice is reliable, moderate and well-informed, giving you access to all the relevant facts so that you can make rational decisions which are in the best interests of children and young people.

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