Therapists ‘could be criminalised’ for treating gender dysphoria under new laws (UK)

Yahoo News 6 May 2021
Psychotherapists could be criminalised for treating children who want to be transgender under new laws banning conversion therapy, the Government has been warned. Mental health professionals say that under new laws they could lose their licence or even face prison terms for exploring the reasons behind a child’s belief that they were born in the wrong body. A group of therapists are now calling on ministers to exclude professional treatments of gender dysphoria from the ban, which could be announced as early as next week. A petition calling on the Government to “safeguard evidence-based therapy” in the new laws has received more than 7,600 signatures. If it reaches 10,000 minsters are required to provide a response. It states: “We ask the Government not to criminalise essential, explorative therapy. Such well-meaning legislation might ironically deny vulnerable children the help they need.”

…Now further concerns are being raised by a number of medical professionals, including Dr David Bell – who blew the whistle on practices at the NHS’s Tavistock clinic – who warned it could be a Trojan horse for trans activists to put pressure on clinicians. The petition was started by James Esses, co-founder of a group clinicians called the Thoughtful Therapists, who say that they “abhor” conversion therapy but the ban could have unintended consequences. “It is our duty as therapists to explore feelings of gender dysphoria, including any underlying causes, especially when medical transitioning may be irreversible,” said Mr Esses, a children’s counsellor and trainee psychotherapist. We are concerned that the criminalisation that many activist groups are calling for could mean that if we do anything other than affirm transitioning then we could lose our licence to practice and even end up in prison. We should never enter therapy with a client with a preconceived idea about the outcome. Mandating affirmation does exactly that.” He warned that other countries such as Australia and Canada have already introduced draconian legislation and if the Government follows suit “there is a real risk that those with gender dysphoria, in particular children who need the time and space to think things through, will not get the support they need”. He added: “Secondly, it will put therapists off even working in this area, for fear of being accused of transphobia. It will undermine the profession as well as our clients.”


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