transgender children
© uwe umstätter / Global Look Press
When the final report of the Cass Review was published on April 10th 2024, many of us hoped this would be a turning point. After the scandal that led to the closure of the Tavistock GIDS clinic, at last it seemed that children and young people with gender-related distress would finally receive the high quality, evidence-based care they need and deserve.

At the time her report was published, Dr. Hilary Cass noted that "some professional organisations have ducked their responsibility in ensuring that everyone working in this field treated these young people as they would any other". She called on these organisations to "come together to provide leadership and guidance" to ensure that the report's recommendations could be implemented.

It is three months on from the review's publication. How have the professional therapeutic organisations responded? Are they providing the required leadership and guidance?

Let's look first of all at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). To date, this organisation, with over 50,000 members, has produced no public or in-house response to the Cass Review - not on its website, not in emails to members, nor in its journal Therapy Today. It has, though, continued to review several books on gender identity and refused to remove a blog by a school counsellor who advocates gender affirming care.

One of BACP's members wrote to a senior manager in the organisation asking why it had not responded to the review. She was told that the findings of the Cass Review were "primarily about medical pathways and interventions" and that its members "have no role in either". Where counselling was mentioned in the report, the BACP claimed that "the focus is on provision of fertility counselling, delivered by NHS professionals trained in this area".

These statements are simply not true. As the Clinical Advisory Network on Sex and Gender points out in its summary of the report: "Psycho-social support is recommended as the first line of treatment."

Why is a major professional therapeutic organisation, whose membership comprises counsellors and psychotherapists, so dismissive of a report that recommends psycho-social support as the first line of treatment? Its members provide psychotherapeutic support. This is their job. It's as though the BACP has turned its back on Dr. Cass's Review with a shrug and said, "nothing to see here".

Worse than this, as mentioned above, the BACP continues to produce content promoting gender ideology. James Esses recently revealed in his Substack that the BACP's latest edition of its quarterly magazine for practitioners who work with children, titled 'Children, Young People, and Families', appears to be "nothing more than a manual in trans ideological indoctrination".

While the BACP is failing miserably to respond to the Cass Review, is the British Psychological Society (BPS), with more than 65,000 members, doing any better? On the day that the Cass Review final report was published, it was greeted by the BPS's President-Elect with a glowing commendation. In a response published on the BPS website he called it a "thorough and sensitive review". There was praise for Dr. Cass and agreement with her call to end the "deeply concerning public bullying and vilification of professionals working in this challenging area".

While the President-Elect was gushing about the Cass Review, the Chair of the BPS Sexualities section, Dr. Rob Agnew, took a different stance. He announced on his social media account that its publication was a "bad day for trans youth". This is a man who described the NHS's decision to stop prescribing puberty blockers to children and young people as "bigotry" and likened gender critical therapists to "misogynists" and "incels". You can read more about the Chair of BPS Sexualities Section on the Save Mental Health website where "Dr. P" gives an insightful and frank commentary.

Questioned about the discrepancy in responses between its President-Elect and the Chair of BPS Sexualities Section, a BPS spokesperson replied: "In an organisation of more than 60,000 people, there will be some who hold different opinions." Yet the "different opinions" being voiced in this case happen to be from the Chair of the Section that holds responsibility for the area of work most affected by the Cass Review's recommendations.

The problem facing the BPS is not one of a single dissenting voice in a senior position. There are several other senior clinicians closely associated with the BPS who advocate gender identity ideology. This became clear when the BPS 'Guidelines for Psychologists working with Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diversity' were published in 2019. These guidelines were widely criticised for being ideologically-driven and for enforcing a gender-affirming approach to care. The Chair of the Working Group was Dr. Christina Richards.

David Pilgrim, of BPS Watch puts it well:
The guidelines resemble no other professional practice documents. Of six members who produced these under Richard's control, two have forced the BPS to remove their names in professional embarrassment. Patients were to be called "sluts" if they so wanted it and BDSM and other variants of "kink" were a part of a de-repressive future to be celebrated by psychologists as being essentially non-pathological.
Despite the criticism, the BPS declared that it was confident in these guidelines because they had been developed by "experts working in the field".These experts were strongly influenced by the now discredited World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which has been accused of "widespread medical practice on children and vulnerable adults." (See the WPATH files by Mia Hughes.)

One of the experts in which the BPS places such confidence is the previously mentioned Dr Christina Richards. Dr Richards is a transwoman who in 2019 placed an advert for the Adult Gender Identity Clinic at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust stating: "Bigots and exploitative theoreticians need not apply!"

Dr. Richards is also notorious for declaring that the debate about puberty blockers is "shut" and for claiming that a variety of sadomasochistic sexual practices are "sexualities". See David Pilgrim's account 'Cass, Columbo and the BPS' for full details of the gender ideologues working within the BPS who continue to wield influence.

On June 19th, the long-awaited revision to the BPS guidelines was finally published. BPS Watch has now scrutinised them and its verdict is that, while the previous ideological zeal has been toned down and references to "gender affirming care" and "reclaimed language" such as "slut" removed, the guidelines continue to use unscientific terminology including "assigned male/female at birth" and make contested assumptions with no scientific evidence to support them. The Working Group now comprises clinicians who are all advocates of gender identity ideology, and their guidelines cite WPATH Standards of Care (8), which declare "Eunuch" to be a gender. So, it seems that the BPS has some serious work to do before it can get its house in order sufficiently to provide leadership and guidance to its members following the Cass Review.

Finally, we come to the U.K. Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) - a smaller professional body of 11,000 members, that has been under attack since November last year from a group of U.K. activists called Therapists against Conversion Therapy and Transphobia or TACTT.

Following the publication of the interim Cass Review report and the Maya Forstater ruling on gender critical beliefs being protected by law, the UKCP made a statement recognising the rights of its psychotherapists and counsellors under the Equality Act 2010 to hold gender critical beliefs and practice exploratory therapy. The statement also made clear that "exploratory therapy should not in any circumstances be confused with conversion therapy, which seeks to change or deny a person's sexual orientation and/or gender identity". TACTT reacted with fury to the UKCP's statement and wrote an open letter suggesting that gender critical therapists were not competent to work with gender questioning clients and may cause them harm.

While the UKCP managed to fend off TACTT's criticism on this occasion, the activist group attacked again and delivered a more serious blow. Just prior to the publication of the Cass Review final report in April, the UKCP issued another statement, this time announcing that it was withdrawing its signature from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Conversion Therapy. The MoU is a policy document, signed by more than 25 health, counselling and psychotherapy organisations including the BACP and BPS. Its aim is to end the practice of conversion therapy in the U.K., although there is very little evidence of such practice. (See Transgender Trend's report on the activists behind the MoU.)

In its current form, the MoU makes no distinction between adults and children. This is a problem because children's needs differ over the course of their development and a young child may not have the ability or capacity to consent to treatment. The UKCP made the decision to remove its signature from the MoU policy document, citing concerns about the safety and welfare of children and young people. It also expressed fears that the inclusion of children in the MoU could be construed as a "ban" on therapists exploring the reasons a child or young person is questioning his or her gender, something Dr. Cass has said is "essential".

In response to the UKCP's withdrawal from the MoU, the activist group TACTT mounted a petition calling for a vote of no confidence in the UKCP's Chair and Board of Trustees. It gathered enough signatories to force an election in which members could vote to remove the Board. The UKCP's Chair, Dr. Christian Buckland, accused TACTT of mounting a "coup" and said: "As Chair, I will not allow the UKCP to be bullied into turning a blind eye to the safety of children." However, shortly after making this statement, he resigned, handing over to his deputy.

The UKCP's voting process started shortly after Dr. Buckland's resignation and on July 8th the UKCP announced that members had voted for the board to remain in post. This is a great relief for those who hold that activists should not be allowed to dictate policy, set standards or use bullying tactics in order to get what they want, especially where children's welfare is concerned. It is unlikely, however, that TACTT and other activist groups will simply give up and walk away in the face of defeat.

Where does this leave the main professional organisations tasked with implementing the Cass Review, who are either signatories to the MoU and in thrall to activists or have withdrawn from the MoU and are under attack from them? It is hard to imagine a resolution without strong leadership and a determination to replace the current MoU and resist activist pressure. The BACP and BPS have so far demonstrated none of these qualities.

A further challenge to the implementation of the Cass Review is the Labour Government's pledge to introduce a "truly trans-inclusive" ban on conversion therapy. While Dr. Cass recommended that psychotherapists and psychologists explore all the factors contributing to a gender questioning child's distress, this is viewed by some as "conversion therapy". "This is because some activists argue that anything other than self-diagnosis and the provision of gender-affirming care (including medical affirmation) for children and young people is a type of conversion therapy that should be banned," explains Clinical psychologist Dr. Anna Hutchinson explains in her article for the Daily Telegraph.

Dr. Hutchinson warns of "political pressures to enact a conversion therapy ban" which Seen in Journalism reports may be coming from the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy (CACT), the group which originally drafted the MoU and is currently advising the Labour Party. The Chair of both CACT and the MoU is Dr. Igi Moon, a member of WPATH. Dr. Moon is also a Fellow of the BPS and one of the working party responsible for the latest ideologically-driven BPS 'Guidelines on Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diversity'.

As Dr. Hutchinson rightly points out: "We cannot both implement Cass and accede to these campaigners demands." She urges all political parties calling for a law banning conversion therapy to ensure that they are "well-informed" in order to "best help younger people". Our new Labour Government would do well to heed her warnings. The future of thousands of young people awaiting care for gender-related distress depends upon it.