Banning conversion therapy

  1. Physical Conversion Therapy

The Lesbian Rights Alliance exists to stand up for the rights of lesbians and to prevent lesbian erasure. The Lesbian Rights Alliance exists to stand up for the rights of lesbians and to prevent lesbian erasure. We also promote lesbian visibility as lesbians are an overlooked social category, including when it comes to addressing ‘gay’conversion therapy. We welcome government proposals to further outlaw physical conversion practices against lesbians and to uphold our same sex attraction rights in law (Equality Act 2010, Section 7). Alongside other women and girls we also welcome our legal rights to single sex facilities and spaces as defined in the Equality Act exceptions (Equality Act, 2010. Schedule 3 S. 27).     Our main focus is to support young lesbians who are from the age group most vulnerable to ‘gay’ conversion therapy and we work closely with young lesbians and parent groups who are very concerned about these issues and how their lesbian daughters are being affected.

Despite the legal protections in law, it has to be recognised that over the last ten years there has been increasing stigmatisation of lesbians partly based on the fact that our sexual orientation, excludes men.  This has led to increasing sexual violence towards lesbians sometimes called ‘corrective rape,’ physical violence and threatening behaviour seemingly motivated by men who believe that they can force lesbians into heterosexuality. For this reason, many lesbian groups have to function ‘under the radar,’ for fear of being attacked. While much of this behaviour is already defined as criminal and can be viewed as hate crime, we welcome government proposals to close further loop holes in this area through criminal and civil law measures.

Transgenderism as physical ‘gay’ conversion therapy of lesbians

We do not support the proposal to include transgenderism in the bill on conversion therapy.  Transgenderism is an entirely different issue from conversion therapy based on same sex sexual orientation. The transgender lobby is deeply homophobic and those organisations which promote transgender rights such as Stonewall do not accept the same sex attraction definition contained in the Equality Act. Instead, same sex attraction is redefined as same ‘gender’ attraction.[i] This redefinition allows trans identified cross dressing heterosexual males known as ‘transwomen,’ to define themselves as lesbians and demand that actual lesbians should have sex with them. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of these ‘transwomen,’ retain their male genitalia and do not take hormones.  Lesbians who refuse to accept these ‘transwomen,’ as sexual partners are frequently subjected to threats of physical and sexual violence (see below)

Transgender doctrine based on the socially invented concepts of gender identity and gender dysphoria has also profoundly impacted on young lesbians who do not conform to the sexist social stereotypes on which the ideas of gender identity are based. For example, at the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Clinic for children and young people, a girl who does not like playing with dolls or wearing pink ribbons is defined as ‘transgender’ and in need of medical treatment (The Times, 23/11/21)[ii]  Yet research on clients attending the clinic indicates that over 70% of these girls and young women seeking treatment are same sex attracted. [iii]  But as a result of bullying at school and stigmatisation, they are groomed by online forums and the mainstream media to accept the doctrine of transgenderism. They come to believe that they are suffering from (rapid onset) gender dysphoria, and that they are really ‘transmen born in the wrong body.’ Despite the fact that this is obviously ‘gay conversion’ of young lesbians, these treatments have been reinforced by an NHS memorandum issued in 2017 which states that any person who identifies as transgender must have their gender identity confirmed.  

There has been a massive increase in the number of girls referred to GIDs clinics between 2009-2019. In 2009 girls were in a minority identifying as gender dysphoric. The number of girls now seeking treatment has amplified to over four thousand per cent and they form the majority of children referred to the clinic. In 2020 there were almost 2000 girls referred; this was two and half times the number of boys referred.[iv] This can only be explained as a cultural shift in terms of the dominance of transgender ideology over the last ten years, as Dr David Bell a consultant psychiatrist and former governor of the trust has indicated.[v]

As seen above there is now considerable evidence to show that transgender doctrine is being used as the rationale for physical ‘gay’ conversion therapy. In 2019, a BBC Newsnight programme undertook an investigation into what was happening at the Tavistock clinic, as a result of complaints by some parents. This showed that 39 staff had resigned from the clinic over a period of 3 years, because they were very concerned that safeguarding issues were not being addressed. Newsnight reporters looked at over 100 transcripts of interviews with children and found that ‘homophobia in families,’ was mentioned in all of them, with one clinician stating that ‘some parents’ preferred their child to be ‘transgender and straight, rather than gay.’  Another clinician had described a girl who had ‘come out as lesbian,’ but had faced persistent homophobic bullying from her family and from her school and then had changed to ‘identifying as trans.’ [vi]

The harms of physical transgender treatment

Puberty blockers

The vast majority of children attending these clinics are referred to NHS endocrinology services so that they can be prescribed puberty blockers that halt their physical development. Puberty blockers are an unregulated experimental treatment, the harms of which have until recently not been investigated. Originally the rationale behind this treatment was that it would allow children to change their minds and decide not to continue on the medical pathway. But once started on puberty blockers nearly all children go on to have further treatment involving cross sex hormones and surgery.  Research at the Tavistock (initially unreported) has shown that taking puberty blockers even for a short time, results in bone thinning and diminished growth in children.[vii] Prolonged treatment can result in severe osteo-arthritis, according to Swedish research. It has also been shown to lower a child’s cognitive development compared to a control group.[viii]  These drugs stop young people experiencing any sexual feeling by preventing the development of sexual and reproductive organs and thus allowing these organs to atrophy. Girls can then be rendered permanently sterile (described as ‘chemical castration,’ by a Swedish clinician). The Swedish Government has therefore decided that such treatment should no longer be used. [ix] In the US there are now a large number of people who are suing the drug companies that manufacture puberty blockers because of the harm incurred through their use.

Sex Hormones and Surgery

Young women taking the sex hormone testosterone over time experience irreversible damage to their bodies as is indicated by those who later choose to desist. This includes permanent lowering of their voices and beard growth. Many also opt for further body mutilation by having their breasts sliced off and some will have hysterectomies. However, none of these treatments can actually change young women into men as in reality changing biological sex is physically impossible. [x]

De-transitioning.  There are now thousands of young women world-wide (the vast majority of whom are lesbians) who have regretted undertaking such treatment and have decided to de-transition.[xi] Most are in their twenties and feel that they were too young to understand the long-term impacts of what they were consenting and felt their mental health issues should have been explored by psycho therapists (see our response to question 2)  Some have also felt they were misled into believing that they could actually change sex and they would be accepted as men. As one young woman said ‘I look in the mirror. I do not see a male body. I see a mutilated female body.’ [xii]  , it is not known how many young women are desisting or de-transitioning in the UK.  For example, there is no follow up by endocrinology clinics of those who desist from taking hormones. Funding and research support into this has also been denied by UK universities on the grounds that it is ‘transphobic.’

Nevertheless, considerable international research and information from support networks for women who detransition has now emerged.  In the UK the setting up of the Detransition Advocacy Network in 2019 immediately attracted responses from 300 de-transitioned women all of whom were lesbians and had experienced considerable harm to their bodies from taking testosterone and the mutilation of their own bodies their own bodies through surgery. [xiii]

Do no harm’

It is indeed astonishing that as UK taxpayers we are financing these irreversible harmful treatments on the NHS when breast ironing and the genital mutilation of girls are rightly illegal. It is clear that this is recognised by Liz Truss in the foreward to the consultation document, where it is stated that,

‘It is also vitally important that no person is forced or coerced into conversion therapy and that young people are supported in exploring their identity without being encouraged towards one particular path. This is especially the case for those under 18 and where this might result in an irreversible decision.’

In the view of the psychiatric consultant, Dr David Bell,  these physical medical interventions imposed on young people should be halted and there should be alternative mental health services to enable the complex causes of ‘gender dysphoria’ to be explored.[xiv] We support this view and regard it as even more important in the light of research evidence which demonstrates that over 80%of young same sex attracted girls will come to accept their lesbian sexual orientation if they allowed to develop normally, without medical treatments [xv] 

Male sexual and physical violence as conversion practices

Corrective rape as a form of physical conversion practice towards lesbians is often only regarded as applying to other countries, where being lesbian is either illegal, or is not tolerated for cultural or religious reasons. Such practices are illustrated by the number of lesbians in the Kakuma refuge camp in Kenya, where lesbians who have fled their own countries and are seeking asylum have been accommodated by the UN refugee agency.   However, corrective rape and physical violence continues to be used against these lesbian women by males in this camp. We welcome the fact that UK refugee policy grants asylum to lesbians who are being persecuted for their sexual orientation in their own countries. But current government proposals to restrict those seeking asylum when they  first arrive in this country will make it much harder for these lesbian women.

Such forms of physical conversion practices are not limited to other countries and male sexual violence and physical threats towards lesbians because of our sexual orientation continue to happen in the UK and are increasing both in public and private settings.

  • Online threats against lesbians through social media.

Trans identified heterosexual males known as transwomen, frequently make violent threats towards any woman who questions or is critical of gender identity doctrine, as has been seen in the attacks on J K Rowling. But lesbians have become a particular target by males who self-identify as lesbians and rename their penises as ‘lady sticks.’  These threats are made because lesbians refuse to have sex with biological males. They include considerable misogynistic violence such as ‘You ugly f…s should be buried alive’ to ‘suck my girl cock c…s’[xvi] However, in our experience, when lesbians report these threats to the police, often no action is taken and the police services need to become more aware of the need to take action in these circumstances, and record these threats as crimes. 

  • Sexual violence and coercion on Dating Sites and in LGBT groups

Many young lesbians use dating sites aimed at lesbians in order to find same sex partners. But the vast majority of these sites do not exclude physical males, defining themselves as lesbians. A survey by Angela Wild designed for lesbians asked several questions about their experiences of dating on these sites, as well as their experience in LGBT groups. The survey, was self-selected and does not claim to be a representative sample. Nevertheless, she received 80 responses and found that 48% were accosted by ‘transwomen’, claiming to be lesbians and that 56% felt coerced to accept ‘non-consensual sex’ with a ‘transwoman,’ as a sexual partner.  They described experiencing a wide variety of sexual violence, including sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape.  Such pressure also came from the LGBT groups. 50% of lesbians described themselves as being excluded from such groups for ‘stating that lesbians don’t like penises.’. Lesbians were routinely intimidated by LGBT groups for holding such views. This included verbal abuse, death and rape threats and  doxing which involved exposure of personal details on social media.. [xvii] All these practices should be recognised as physical conversion therapy against lesbians and addressed in further criminal and civil measures. More recently the BBC has investigated this form of transgender conversion therapy imposed on lesbians, who are literally coerced into having heterosexual sex with a male who self identifies  as a lesbian . [xviii]

  • Physical attacks on lesbians in public spaces.

Lesbians have also been attacked by transgender activists in spaces where for example lesbian only events are taking place, for example at lesbian bar nights. This form of attack is often aimed at sexually harassing women in female only toilets and vandalising the toilet facilities. In our submission to the parliamentary consultation on public toilets we stated the following.

‘At one lesbian bar night in London these ‘transwomen,’ let off stink bombs in the women only toilet. At another Lesbian only bar night, a ‘transwoman,’ who was asked to leave, as it was a woman only event, smeared sperm over the toilet paper in a female toilet cubicle. At another weekly lesbian disco a lesbian told us that a ‘transwoman,’ tried to enter her toilet cubicle as she was coming out it and deliberately tried to touch her breast. This woman was made to feel very vulnerable as a result of this incident. At a Lesbian Pride Event in Brighton ‘transwomen,’ invaded the women’s toilets, tried to make physical contact with female users and upturned a sanitary towel container and spread bloodied tampons all over the floor.’[xix]

Transwomen are not the only males who physically attack lesbians.  Groups of men who are not transgender can also target lesbians in public spaces through physical violence and threats of corrective rape, for example on London buses.  To our knowledge the Met police have no published data about such attacks on lesbians in public spaces. This is an indication of the institutionalised misogyny in Met police force and others, that urgently needs to addressed.

We strongly disagree to this in relation to transgenderism. As we have pointed out in our answer in our previous answers, transgenderism is the major form of gay conversion therapy that is being used to indoctrinate same sex attracted girls and young women. These proposals would criminalise those parents who support their daughters being lesbian, and are trying to safeguard them from harm. It would also criminalise therapists who need to be able to explore internal or external forms of homophobia and lesbophobia which have led these girls to transition. In addition, it would criminalise therapists who need to explore the many mental health problems that these girls are experiencing. This issue was highlighted by Keira Bell, a 23 year old, bi-sexual young woman, who brought a successful legal challenge at the High Court against the Tavistock clinic for this reason in 2019. It needs to be recognised that over a third of girls who seek to medically transition at a GIDS clinic are known to be autistic and this can affect their interpretations and understanding of verbal and non-verbal language. Others experienced trauma from being sexually abused by male peers or adult males. Teachers and youth workers also have a responsibility to reassure girls that being lesbian is fine; to provide positive role models of real lesbians and to appropriately deal with any bullying that girls often experience at school or in higher education, because they are lesbian.   All these people could be criminalised if they are perceived as being involved in ‘converting’ children and young people away from transgender ideology. As a form of conversion therapy transgenderism should be illegal. So long as the medical conversion of children and young people is allowed to be legal, therapists, parents, teachers and youth workers must be allowed to explore and assist these children in order to safeguard them from making decisions, they may well regret.

[1] www.Stonewall.org.uk/youngstonewall

[1]  www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tavistock-clinic-treats-girls-who-don’t-like-dolls-as-transgender

[1] Holt, V, Skagerberg, E, Dunsford, M. Young people with features of gender dysphoria: demographics and associated difficulties. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry 2016; 21: 108–18.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

[1] https://gids.nhs.uk/number-referrals

[1] Dr David Bell https://fairplayforwomen.com/nolan-investigates-stonewall-5/

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51806962

[1] Carmichael, Polly, Gary Butler, Una Masic, Tim J. Cole, Bianca L. De Stavola, Sarah Davidson, Elin M. Skageberg, Sophie Khadr and Russell M. Viner. 2021, Feb. 2. ‘Short-term Outcomes of Pubertal Suppression in a Selected Cohort of 12 to 15 Year Old Young People with Persistent Gender Dysphoria in the UK’. PLOS One.

[1] chneider, MA, Spritzer, PM, Soll, BMB, Fontanari, AMV, Carneiro, M, Tovar-Moll, F, et al. Brain maturation, cognition and voice pattern in a gender dysphoria case under pubertal suppression. Front Hum Neurosci 2017; 11: 528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

[1] https://4w.pub/children-suffered-health-problems-after-puberty-blockers-sweden/?fbclid=IwAR14KMyXf6huBacaOlnJPslLs_dsGMgJ30JXJypTjmW4cqF2SS-z2xBc07A

[1] https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin/article/sex-gender-and-gender-identity-a-reevaluation-of-the-evidence/76A3DC54F3BD91E8D631B93397698B1A

[1] Lisa Littman 2021  lnk.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10508-021-02163-w.pdf

[1] Cited in the BBC Nolan Interview episode 5 with Doctor David Bell, as above.

[1]  Helen Joyce Speaking up for female Eunuchs Standpoint 30 Jan 2020. https://standpointmag.co.uk/speaking-up-for-female-eunuchs/

2.Transgenderism as a form of ‘talking therapy,’ and gay conversion practices aimed at lesbian girls and young women

The transgender conversion message 

It needs to be recognised that lesbian girls and young women are being subjected to a variety of what could be considered as ‘brainwashing,’ ‘talking’ techniques and practices which aim to convert ‘gender non-conforming,’ young lesbians into heterosexual transmen. It therefore acts as a form of lesbian erasure.  Transgender doctrine insists that if a lesbian girl or young woman’s ‘gender identity’ does not conform to sexist socially constructed feminine stereotypes, she has been born in the wrong body. It also asserts that ‘gender identity,’ is innate, even though there is absolutely no credible scientific evidence for this assertion.  Recent neuro-scientific evidence by Professor Gina Rippon, in her book The Gendered Brain (2019) has demonstrated that there is no such thing as an innate gendered brain. (Gina Rippon. The Gendered Brain, Penguin, Random House, London 2019.)

In another Orwellian reversal of scientific evidence, transgender ideology states that biological sex (that is being born female or male as determined by our chromosomes) is a social construction and it is these beliefs that are being used to indoctrinate young lesbians. A few years ago, girls who did not conform to traditional social stereotypes, were accepted as ‘tomboys,’ but this is no longer allowed within transgender doctrine.   

The Equality Act (2010) does not recognise Gender Identity as a protected characteristic and it is not defined. The only reference to gender is in the protected characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ which applies only to adults. But this is itself a misnomer because, following the Gender Recognition Act (2004), it allows adults to apply to change their sex on their birth certificates, if approved by a medical panel, even though changing biological sex is not scientifically possible.    

Other transgender conversion messages are conveyed to young lesbians. For example, they are told that being lesbian is old fashioned and it is much more up to date and progressive to become ‘transmen’. They are also encouraged to engage in self harm and to threaten parents and others that they will commit suicide of they do not get immediate medical treatment for their ‘gender dysphoria.’ There is no reliable evidence that young lesbians have suicidal intentions because they have not received medicalised conversion treatments as has been stated by the GIDs clinics. The studies have been done have been self-selecting rather than randomised and even in these studies the level of suicidal intentions is extremely low. Young lesbians can however experience depression and other mental health problems, as indicated by research with de-transitioners, when being lesbian is stigmatised and positive role models are not provided ..The evidence from lesbian detransitioners demonstrate that they have been the victims of what can only be viewed as transgender political  propaganda.

Organisations which promote transgender gay conversion therapy

However, many other institutions and agencies have accepted this doctrine without question, and have been prepared to promote it on the grounds of being progressive, without understanding that it is a key form of gay conversion therapy   These organisations have included not only online social media forums, but also mainstream organisations such as government departments, local authorities, schools, youth groups and mainstream media such as the BBC. These are addressed below.

  • ‘talking’ conversion through social media forums Online chat through social media has become a major reinforcer of conversion therapy for young lesbians. through Reddit and other platforms, Some mainstream organisation such as Mermaids, a notoriously homophobic organisation, also host online chat forums, where children are encouraged to say they intend suicide if they do not immediately get medicalised conversion therapy.
  • Youth groups and youth organisations There have been numerous mixed sex LGBT youth groups meeting around the country (before the pandemic) A major aim of these groups has been to promote the transgender message and to encourage young lesbians to self -identify as transmen. It is largely in these groups that being lesbian has been so stigmatised and represented as old fashioned, that many young lesbians have been pressurised into becoming transgender, according to several de-transitioned lesbians we have interviewed. To this day no youth groups exist specifically for young same sex attracted lesbians. A small number of youth organisations, such as Brook do accept that lesbians exist, but undermine this by accepting that young men can also be lesbians.  Other similar organisations include the Proud Trust (originally funded by the Government Equality Office.) which has a so-called lesbian and bi-sexual group, but again allows in ‘translesbians.’ The Proud Trust has become a major player in the north of England as a training organisation for schools on Relationship and Sex Education and promotes ‘gay conversion practises’ as well the acceptability of pornography in its sex education programme
  • Government Departments – the Department for Education (DfE).  The DfE has been a major promoter of transgender ‘gay conversion’ talking and written practices. This has happened through the policy capture’ of the department by Stonewall originally. Its statutory guidance to schools insists on the introduction of the Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum and insistence that LGBT issues must be taught in this curriculum.  Stonewall teaching materials were also included in this guidance. 

Following on from awareness by ministers about what was happening in these teaching programmes new guidance was issued on planning the development of the SRE curriculum to schools. This guidance has stated that ;

‘We are aware that topics involving gender and biological sex can be complex and sensitive matters to navigate. You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear. Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence based. Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material. While teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing, teachers should always seek to treat individual students with sympathy and support. You should work together with parents on any decisions regarding your school’s treatment of their child, in line with the school’s safeguarding policy and the statutory guidance on working together to safeguard children. ‘ https://www.gov.uk/guidance/plan-your-relationships-sex-and-health-curriculum#creating-a-policy-for-the-new-curriculum

However, the planning guidance from the DfE is not statutory and has largely been ignored by many schools who have employed organisations which blatantly contravene this guidance. The current Minister of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi also seems unaware of this guidance and has given enormous amounts of funding to two transgender organisations EqualiTeach and Diversity Role Models to address LGBT bullying in schools. Both these organisations have promoted the idea that children can be born in the wrong body, because of their ‘gender non-conformity. ‘

 According to Conservatives for Women, Liz Truss the minister for Women and Equalities has previously openly denounced EqualiTeach This organisation has stated that trans identifying boys should be allowed into girls toilets, teachers should not tell parents that their child has identified as trans and they should change the pronouns they use with a trans identified child. All of this contravenes the guidance highlighted above, as well as statutory safeguarding guidance. .

Diversity Role Models (DRM) has been notorious for previously getting ASDA to sell home learning packs to parents on transgender ideology, in 2020.  In the primary pack, DRM stated ‘love has no age,’ a slogan used by paedophiles. In the secondary pack it showed a story of a six year old child having oral sex. Not surprisingly, parents who had purchased these packs were extremely angry.  While Diversity Role Models had to withdraw this material, it is clear that it is still promoting gender identity ideology to very young children from early years onwards. This includes a lesson on the ‘gender unicorn,’ that illustrates gender identity and gender expression. It is also still showing accounts of children who transgender including a girl who talks about self-harm and suicide if she is not accepted as a boy (see https://www.conservativesforwomen.org/a-new-round-of-funding-for-diversity-role-models).

It is apparent that this form of conversion therapy used by the above transgender training organisations and many other similar ones, has become embedded in the majority of schools.. In our own organisation we have had heard numerous stories from parents about very young girls coming home saying they want to become boys. One parent told us that when she first sent her daughter to primary school, she was approached by her teacher asking her what pronouns she should use, based on the fact that her refer daughter had short hair and wore trousers.

As far as bullying is concerned, we know that these organisations do not challenge the bullying of gender-non conforming young lesbians. Moreover, many teachers who are expected to deal with such bullying often refer these girls to homophobic transgender counselling organisations, such as Mermaids, rather than supporting them as lesbians.

It is shocking that the current Minister for Education does not seem aware of the government planning guidance which clearly states that children should not be taught that they can be born in the wrong body and has allowed massive amounts of funding to be given to two organisations which are in effect promoting ‘gay conversion therapy,’ through the teaching of gender identity ideology.  

  • The Mainstream Media The mainstream media has also played a significant role in promoting transgender gay conversion talking practices. This will be addressed in the specific media question.