They claim that they can no longer “remain silent” on what they consider “a serious drift in the name of the emancipation of the ‘transgender child’ (who claims not to have been born in the ‘right body’)”. It is about 50 French intellectuals who, in an appeal on the pages of the political weekly Express, they define the speeches on self-determination as “radical” which consider “the increase in requests for sex change, especially among adolescents, legitimate”.
Among the signatories there are doctors, philosophers, child psychologists, anthropologists, jurists, magistrates, who do not mince words when speaking of “theft of childhood” and “commodification of the body”. All are convinced that requests for sex change at a very young age are based “on simple perception, presented as truth […] at the cost of permanent medical or even surgical treatment (removal of breasts or testicles) on the body of children or adolescents ”.
In the appeal, the group of intellectuals then cites the decision of the Scottish government, which in recent weeks has introduced new guidelines for inclusion, in order to make the school environment more sensitive to children with gender dysphoria and establishing that “from the age of four it is possible to change sex and gender at school without the consent of mother and father”. In other words: if a pupil expresses the desire to change sex or to maintain gender neutrality without communicating it to the family, no one in the school will be required to communicate it to the parents of the person concerned. Disclosure of such personal information, the document states, could cause “unnecessary stress” to the child or “put him at risk.”
What is happening in Scotland “could happen very soon also in France”, argue the intellectuals, pointing out the increase in requests for sex changes among children and especially among adolescent girls in recent years. “According to Jean Chambry, child psychiatrist in charge of CIAPA (Center Intersectoriel d’Accueil pour Adolescent in Paris), almost ten years ago there were about ten requests per year, in 2020 there were ten requests per month (only for the Ile -de-France). There is talk of a worrying acceleration of medical responses to these transition requests, ”they write. The 50 signatories declare themselves convinced that by “persuading these children that they have been ‘assigned” a sex at birth, and that they can change it freely, we make them patients for life: consumers of hormonal chemicals, consumers in pursuit of chimera of a fantasized body “.
The French appeal comes in the same days in which, from across the Channel, news arrives of the ruling of the UK Court of Appeal which overturned the judgment in the case of Keira Bell, a young man from Manchester who had undertaken the transition path at 16 and who today, now 24, she regrets the choice that led her to irreversible changes such as a double mastectomy to remove the breast. So Keira brought to trial the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, a clinic specializing in transitional pathways of the British public health, claiming that doctors had agreed too soon to her desire for a gender change, when she was still a minor, “without the approval of a judge “.
In December 2020, the UK High Court agreed with Bell by stating that “it is highly unlikely” that a teenager would “properly” understand the medium- and long-term effects of gender change and provide caregivers adequate “informed consent” for the transition from one sex to another. The High Court also specified that it did not intend to enter into the merits of the “advantages or disadvantages” of the treatments, underlining however that, being “innovative and experimental” therapies, the possibility of administering them subject to “court authorization” should be considered. The new ruling of the Court of Appeal, on the other hand, states if a minor wants to undertake a transition path, the evaluation is up to the doctors and not to the judges. The case will continue to the Supreme Court, where Keira Bell will appeal.
In recent months, the same clinic has ended up in the headlines for the revelations of psychiatrist David Bell. Former president of the British Psychoanalityc Society, the specialist was a director at the Tavistock Clinic in London for twenty-four years and in 2018 compiled an internal report reporting the concerns of many of the clinic’s doctors about the way in which the Gender Identity Development Service treated young people with gender dysphoria. A relationship that cost Bell disciplinary action which was followed by his resignation.
Beyond these cases, it should be remembered that in the world there are many adolescents who are facing a path of affirmation and are assisted by serious multidisciplinary medical teams who, before making any decision with respect to any step of a path of affirmation of generally, they involve adolescents in psychological interviews where knowledge of each step is carefully deepened, as well as expectations and family support. This approach, in cases of uncertainty, doubts and worries, allows children to have all the time necessary to reflect.
The same international guidelines provide that medical interventions proceed in gradual phases, each of which must be accompanied by a careful and thorough evaluation from a psychological, family and social point of view:
– Reversible interventions involving the use of hypothalamic blockers
which result in the blocking of estrogen or testosterone production
thus counteracting the development of some aspects of secondary sexual characteristics;
– Partially reversible interventions that involve the assumption of a gender affirmation hormone therapy in order to induce a puberty congruence with the identity perceived by the person;
– Irreversible interventions, i.e. gender affirmation surgeries, and are expected after the age of majority.