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December 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The debate about transgender persons has been transformed in the U.K. by a ruling of the High Court that children of 13 or less are very unlikely to be capable to giving consent to “puberty-blocker” drugs, and consent from older children is also fraught with difficulty. As the homosexual newspaper Pink News put it:

Puberty blockers are widely deemed safe, reversible and medically necessary, lawyers for the Tavistock [medical clinic] maintained. Lawyers for [plaintiffs] Bell and Mrs A argued that trans teens should have to go before a court before being able to access the medication.

Since the ruling, the consensus that puberty-blockers are “safe, reversible, and medically necessary” has vanished like snow on the desert. The U.K.’s National Health Service, and also the BBC, has systematically removed links to the radical transgender-affirming charity Mermaids, which represents the view condemned by the High Court. The two entities have also edited out the suggestion that the extremely powerful drugs used to prevent puberty taking place can be reversed; as a matter of fact, the scant research done on the subject suggests the opposite. Even more significantly, they have removed emotive references to suicide. It is the link to suicide that is the basis for the claim that interventions with the aim of gender transitioning can be “medically necessary.”

More fundamentally, though, the NHS has been removing descriptions of “gender” in terms of crude stereotypes and claims that people can change sex. I have discussed the question of stereotypes and the attempt to destroy the concept of biological sex on LifeSite here.

In a parallel move, the left-wing weekly newspaper The Observer, the sister title to The Guardian whose staff forced the resignation of “gender critical” feminist Suzanne Moore only a few weeks ago, published an editorial welcoming the Bell judgement, saying: “It will ensure that children will now receive the protection to which they are legally entitled.” Protection from what? From doctors and their allies in the worlds of education and social work, who have been pushing some of the most vulnerable people in society down a pathway to treatment which takes years of their lives away from normal emotional and physical development and leads to irreversible infertility.

It is interesting to see in the trans debate a phenomenon I have noted in relation to under-age consent: that the courts are more concerned about outcomes, while social workers, doctors, and teachers can be dazzled by the idea that children should be allowed to consent, whatever this may lead to, despite the fact that consent is not really possible in the circumstances.

The Bell judgment is not going to put a stop to people “transitioning,” but it, and the reaction to it, is a hugely significant development. It is too soon to say that it represents the turning of the tide, although there are other indications that we may have passed “peak trans,” such as the growing reaction against letting males compete in women’s sports (this has now reached the organizers of the Olympics). What we can see right away, in the meantime, is the fragility of the trans-affirming consensus Pink News referred to.

It has been obvious for some time that there are many people in the medical profession, as well as elsewhere, who are deeply worried about the issue, but they have been shouted down and hounded from their jobs. What was always obvious was that many of the people going along with the mob attacking dissent against transgender ideology, do not actually believe the ideology themselves. In many cases, they are terrified of the consequences of opposing; in other cases, they may be motivated with hatred against whoever the victim happens to be this time, or by a more general desire to prove their virtue. This desire on the part of so many people to go along with the majority has created a situation in a tiny number of aggressive true believers find that they can lead a lynch mob in almost any direction. It is a scary situation, reminiscent of the French Revolution, and also very unstable. As the list of victims grows ever longer, and the ideological contortions necessary to prove oneself part on the virtuous elite ever more demanding, ordinary people swept along by this ideology have started to look for a way out. This is what happens in a “purity spiral”: these things have a limited lifespan. After a while, given half a chance, a lot of people long to turn around and attack their erstwhile leaders.

This is what has happened here. Perhaps there’ll be a couple more reversals before we are finished, but the dynamic has changed. There is something to be frightened of in supporting extreme trans ideology now, as well as in opposing it.

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Dr Joseph Shaw has a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University, where he also gained a first degree in Politics and Philosophy and a graduate Diploma in Theology. He has published on Ethics and Philosophy of Religion and is the editor of The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Position Papers on the Extraordinary Form (Angelico Press). He is the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and Secretary of Una Voce International. He teaches Philosophy in Oxford University and lives nearby with his wife and nine children.