Following yesterdays blog post about so-called “conversion therapy” which aims to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the UK Council for Psychotherapy have alerted me to a statement on the issue. The UKCP is already a co-signatory to a Memorandum of Understanding which condemns therapies to turn gay people straight as unethical, ineffective and harmful. However, the Memorandum currently makes no mention of similar therapies that aim to convert transgender people back to their birth gender.
I’m happy to hear that the UKCP are looking to expand the memorandum to also include trans conversion therapy.
A number of key bodies in mental health recently signed up to a memorandum of understanding on so-called conversion or reparative therapies, which aim to turn gay people straight. The Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK Council for Psychotherapy, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Department of Health all (rightly, in my view) condemned such “therapy” as unethical and harmful. They do nothing to “convert” people who don’t need converting, and only serve to deepen human misery and potentially drive people to suicide.
I fully support this memorandum, but it needs to go further. It should be expanded to also condemn therapies aimed at converting transgender people back to their birth gender.
I work in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). One of the roles of CAMHS is to act as a gateway to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman in London. GIDS is the only service in the NHS that can prescribe hormone treatments to young people under 18 with gender identity issues. I’m something of a CAMHS jack-of-all-trades, and gender identity issues aren’t a large part of my role, but they’re a part of my role nonetheless.
The purpose of this blog post is to assemble some of my thoughts on the role of CAMHS with regard to gender identity. It’s a bit different to my usual blogging content in that it isn’t so much giving my own views as inviting others to give feedback. I think I should give the usual preface that any opinions I state here are personal ones and not necessarily those of my employer.