Rory Leishman:

In treating long-known and well-researched mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, drug addiction, and schizophrenia, psychiatrists can alleviate enormous suffering and spare their most vulnerable patients from an ignominious death by suicide. What a pity, then, that so many of these same psychiatrists are prone to embracing the most absurd psychiatric fads.

A case in point is “recovered memory therapy,” a popular treatment in the 1980s whereby therapists induced thousands of vulnerable patients to believe they had recovered lost memories of prolonged childhood sexual and satanic abuse. Almost all of these memories were false. Suffering the trauma of repeated sexual or satanic abuse is not something anyone is apt to forget.

Nonetheless, hundreds of innocent parents and child-care workers ended up in jail as a direct result of recovered memory therapy. Finally, in 1997, the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom issued the Brandon Report warning psychiatrists to avoid recovered memory therapy because of a lack of evidence that memories recovered in therapy were accurate.

Other psychiatric societies followed suit. In summing up this now thoroughly discredited, psychiatric craze, the eminent British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels states: “No medieval peasant praying to a household god for the recovery of his pig could have been more credulous than scores of psychiatrists, hosts of therapists and thousands of willing victims. The whole episode would have been funny had it not been so tragic.”

The same can be said about the latest pseudo-scientific, psychiatric fad — Gender Dysphoria. Less than two decades ago, hardly any psychiatrist would have encouraged a pre-pubescent child with a gender identity disorder to dress and behave like a member of the opposite sex. Today, the reverse is true: many psychiatrists and other therapists now encourage children to maintain a discordant gender identity, notwithstanding that the best studies of this mental aberration have conclusively demonstrated that 80 to 95 per cent of gender-confused children, if left alone, will naturally and spontaneously come to identify with their biological sex.

Meanwhile, thanks to the ongoing Gender Dysphoria craze, thousands of prepubescent children in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere have been subjected to dangerous puberty blockers. Worse, as these youngsters mature, many have also gone on as teenagers to undergo sterilizing cross-sex hormones and mutilating sex-reassignment surgery.

Now, at last, just as the Brandon Report helped to discredit recovered memory therapy, so there is reason to hope that the independent CASS Review of gender identity services for children and youth in England will do the same for the gender dysphoria craze. The review is led by Dr. Hilary Cass, one of Britain’s foremost pediatricians. In a preliminary report released in March, she expressed particular concern about the experimental administration of puberty blockers to children. Among several dangers, she warned that these drugs could disrupt brain maturation with “possible longer-term neuropsychological consequences. To date,” she observed, “there has been very limited research on the short-, medium- or longer-term impact of puberty-blockers on neurocognitive development.”

In a direct response to the CASS Review, England’s National Health Service (NHS) announced on July 28 that it is shutting down London’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), the only gender identity clinic for children and youth in England. In taking this action, the NHS got solid backing from Britain’s Conservative government. While the Labor opposition is divided on the issue, few commentators for the BBC or the country’s major newspapers, left and right, have challenged the primary findings of the CASS Review that physicians employed by GIDS have been “under pressure to take an unquestioning affirmative approach” to gender identity with the result that these same physicians have been routinely prescribing dangerous puberty-blockers for gender-confused children.

In Canada, the risk to children is just as bad, if not worse. In London, Ontario, the Children’s Hospital is providing family physicians with information on how to prescribe puberty blockers prior to a child’s “initial appointment” with the hospital’s backlogged Gender Dysphoria clinic.

Such reckless disregard for the well-being of children by the medical profession is hard to fathom. 

To make matters worse, the Trudeau Liberals have introduced Bill C-6, which makes it a criminal offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment for any parent to try to protect his or her child from puberty blockers, by having the child undergo any “practice, treatment or service” designed to change the child’s gender identity to conform with the child’s biological sex.

Last year, the House of Commons adopted Bill C-6 in a vote of 263 to 63. Every Liberal, New Democrat and Bloc Quebecois member voted to support the motion. Most Conservatives oppose Bill C-6 although none stood up to oppose unanimous consent. Alas, among those who back the pernicious legislation is Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre.