Kemi Badenoch warns of ‘epidemic’ of gay children being told they are trans

Kemi Badenoch
Kemi Badenoch said children were being pushed on to a medical pathway to sterilisation - Jamie Lorriman

Britain is in the grip of an “epidemic” of young gay children being told that they are transgender, Kemi Badenoch has said.

The equalities minister made the claim as she warned MPs of a “new form of conversion therapy” under which children are being put on a medical pathway to sterilisation.

She suggested the Government’s long-promised ban on conversion therapy would not just cover people who try to turn gay children straight, but also those who attempt to turn gay children transgender.

Mrs Badenoch told the Commons that “no child is born in the wrong body” and also lambasted the NHS for using terms such as “chestfeeders” instead of “women”.

She said new guidance for schools would bar primary school pupils from changing their gender identity without medical advice.

Mrs Badenoch said the new rules would ensure parents have a right to be consulted and were no longer “treated as the enemy” – and confirmed the regulations would state that girls should not be forced to play physical sports with transgender children who were born male.

She also criticised the charity Stonewall, which has been accused of driving much of the transgender rights agenda, as she told MPs that the organisation “does not decide the law in this country”.

In her most outspoken comments yet on the issue, Mrs Badenoch said: “We are seeing I would say almost an epidemic of young gay children being told that they are trans and being put on a medical pathway for irreversible decisions and regretting what they have done.

“I’m making sure that young people do not find themselves sterilised because they are exploited by people who do not understand what these issues are.”

Mrs Badenoch cited the case of Keira Bell, who was given puberty-blocking drugs by the controversial Tavistock clinic aged 16.

She had a double mastectomy but then changed her mind, and took Tavistock to court. The NHS clinic has since been ordered to close down.

Keira Bell outside court
The case of Keira Bell was highlighted by Mrs Badenoch - FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Mrs Badenoch said: “The threat to many young gay people is not conversion relating to their sexuality, but conversion relating to gender identity.

“Girls like Keira Bell who were rushed onto puberty blockers by the NHS and had a double mastectomy now regret the reversible damage on children. I believe that this is a new form of conversion therapy…

“Whatever Bill we do [publish] needs to address many of these issues.”

The equalities minister made her comments following a statement in the Commons about the UK’s decision not to recognise sex-change certificates from countries that allow self-ID.

She also criticised NHS organisations that have reduced use of the word “woman” and “mother” in an attempt to be inclusive.

“Hospitals in particular think that removing the term ‘women’ is more inclusive,” she said. “It really isn’t.

“It is excluding, and I would say to them, gently, that if you are using phrases like chestfeeding or removing words like ‘mother’ from forms, you are not helping, you’re actually making things worse.”

Mrs Badenoch said equalities laws were now a “mess” because they did not make clear when “biological sex” or “gender identity” was meant. She added: “Calling people transphobic and calling them bigots when they express concerns is creating the chilling effect.”

She told the Commons that the “relatively new phenomenon” of social transitioning – under which people change their gender identity and ask to be referred to by a different name or pronouns – had thrown up unexpected problems for schools.

“Except in the most extreme safeguarding cases – and I expect that to include clinical advice – we should not be socially transitioning any primary school children at all or introducing them to this belief,” she said.

The minister added that, under the new guidance, schools would have to inform parents if their child asks to socially transition in all but the “most extreme circumstances”.

“We should not treat parents as the enemy here, they need to know what is going on,” she said.

‘Boys using opportunity to bully’

On school sports, Mrs Badenoch, who is also Secretary of State for Business and Trade, said she believed girls and boys should be separated by birth sex in most physical sports.

“I had a group of schoolchildren, teenage girls, in my office who told me about how, because of mixed-sex sports, they are bullied and pushed around, and one of them talked about her glasses being broken,” she said. “Boys are using the opportunity to bully.”

On sex education, she said: “A lot of the space has been filled by many dubious organisations producing very, very dubious materials, with no basis in biology in the law whatsoever, but they’re pushing it because they think that they [can] get away with it.

“I think we, as the Government, have a responsibility to clear out this material from schools.”

Mrs Badenoch’s comments on the “epidemic” were retweeted by tennis player Martina Navratilova, who wrote: “Right on.”

Maya Forstater, executive director of the gender-critical campaign group Sex Matters, said her organisation believed that conversion therapy had “evolved into a new, equally abhorrent form, in which troubled children are medicalised in gender clinics and told the falsehood that it is possible to change sex”.

She added: “We’re delighted to see that the Secretary of State agrees. It took a lot of work by a lot of people to get to this day.”

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