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The publication of Dr Hilary Cass’s review on gender identity services in the NHS has unleashed a torrent of anti-trans reaction. Anti-trans campaigners present the report as a vindication of their views. However, its most significant impact is that it has given the green light to centrists and wavering liberals to dump the trans cause. The Labour Party leadership has hailed it, with Wes Streeting (shadow secretary for health) repudiating his comments last year that “trans women are women”. The BBC now invites anti-trans activists as serious “experts”. Even Stonewall was largely positive about it. Written by an authoritative NHS doctor and couched in “science”, compassion and even pro-trans rhetoric, the Cass review has enabled those who had previously tepidly defended trans people and were looking for a way out to do so with a “scientific” and “respectable” cover.

The review’s recommendations are devastating for trans kids. Hormones and puberty blockers (which have been in use for decades) would now be treated as dangerous drugs to be withheld. Those between 17 and 25 would not be treated by adult services. More barriers to the already restrictive transitioning process would be implemented. While the report describes real failures by the NHS, the “scandal” being whipped up is that too many young people were allowed to transition. Indeed, the whole premise behind the report’s “holistic” approach is that most youth who want to change gender are mentally ill. The implication is that giving them what they want to transition must be avoided, and they must instead receive mental health treatment. Gays, too, used to be seen as sick people who needed empathy and therapy. The Cass review treats trans people the same way.

With most liberals embracing this anti-trans review, the pro-trans milieu has been on the defensive. Many have tried to counter the report with facts and methodology. The Cass review is littered with methodological mistakes and ignores many studies that debunk its conclusions. But you can’t wage an effective fightback on this basis. What is needed is to attack the pillar of the anti-trans crusade and of the Cass report, which is the idea that teenagers are too stupid to make decisions about their own lives and that it is the state, the NHS and parents which must dictate what they can and cannot do — in the name of “protecting” them! The problem is that most pro-trans activists agree or concede to this in one way or another, which only ties their hands. The response to the Cass report must be the simple yet controversial statement: let trans kids decide!

The whole weight of this rotten system is felt on youth’s shoulders like a ton of bricks. Kids’ rebellious spirit and creativity are crushed at school and at home so that they be obedient robots with no future. “Responsible” adults (most of whom can’t get their own lives together) are the ones ordering them on how they should live their lives: “You can’t vape, you can’t drink, you can’t dress as you want, you can’t do this or that; sex is a dangerous and monstrous thing, and if you question your gender, we’ll send you to a shrink because you are sick.” This is what destroys young people. This is what traumatises them and pushes them to suicide. Yes, kids must be helped. They must be informed. But for god’s sake, leave the kids alone! Let them choose!