NHS transgender clinic that faced court for giving puberty blockers to children will host anti-racist seminar on ‘the problem of whiteness’

NHS transgender clinic that faced court for giving puberty blockers to children will host anti-racist seminar on ‘the problem of whiteness’

  • Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London is hosting second antiracist seminar
  • Psychoanalyst will argue that ‘whiteness’ is ‘racism’ and UK is systemically racist
  • The trust runs the UK’s only gender identity development service for children

An NHS trust which faced court for giving children puberty-blocking drugs is hosting a second antiracist seminar on ‘white privilege’ and ‘white fragility’.

The seminar, titled ‘Whiteness – A problem for our time’, will examine the view that ‘the problem of racism is a problem of whiteness’.

A summary of the event hosted by the Tavistock and Portman Trust in London on January 14 says that speaker Helen Morgan will ‘examine white privilege and white fragility from a psychoanalytic perspective’.

Ms Moran, who is releasing a book called The Work of Whiteness in 2021, will argue the UK is systemically racist and ‘white privilege and racism’ are maintained by ‘white fragility, the colour-blind approach and the silencing of process of disavowal that develops in the childhood of white liberal families’.

She is expected to describe how a ‘system of racism’ which is ‘so embedded within’ British society is ‘clearly doing untold harm to black people’ and that ‘such a system also limits and distorts the development of white individuals’.

The system, Ms Morgan will say, is ‘clearly doing untold harm to black people’ and that ‘such a system also limits and distorts the development of white individuals’.

The psychoanalyst will conclude that ‘the work required in relation to whiteness and the relinquishment of privilege is essential if we are to dismantle the system of racism that is so embedded within our society’.

A page on the Eventbrite website describing the seminar says it has been organised by the British Psychotherapy Foundation, the British Psychoanalytic Council and the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust is hosting a second seminar which presents the view that 'the problem of racism is a problem of whiteness' and that the UK is systemically racist

 

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust is hosting a second seminar which presents the view that ‘the problem of racism is a problem of whiteness’ and that the UK is systemically racist

It states that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust believes that ‘becoming an antiracist organisation is a necessary though difficult task’, and that Ms Morgan’s seminar is ‘a contribution to that process’.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust runs the UK’s only gender identity development service (GIDS) for children.

In the first seminar, Ms Morgan said ‘whiteness’ is a ‘political and psychological construct’ first devised in 17th Century Virginia ‘as a way of controlling the enslaved and creating political and economic advantage’.

This construct, she said, ‘shaped the collective white psyche – a psyche which both recognises and disavows the reality of white privilege’.

‘Despite our individual stories, we need to recognise we are part of a white collective with a shared ideology which affords us privilege. White ignorance is the way we close our eyes to this inherited white privilege,’ Ms Morgan told 700 attendees.

The psychoanalyst argued that ‘the reality of slavery and how white people profited from it and continue to profit from it should be central to our curricula’.

A page on the Eventbrite website describing the seminar says that the talk has been organised by the British Psychotherapy Foundation, the British Psychoanalytic Council and the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists. It states that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust believes that 'becoming an antiracist organisation is a necessary though difficult task', and that Ms Morgan's seminar is 'a contribution to that process'

 

A page on the Eventbrite website describing the seminar says that the talk has been organised by the British Psychotherapy Foundation, the British Psychoanalytic Council and the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists. It states that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust believes that ‘becoming an antiracist organisation is a necessary though difficult task’, and that Ms Morgan’s seminar is ‘a contribution to that process’

She also told the seminar that white children are ‘socialised into whiteness’, arguing: ‘The baby who is born pink, learns to become white’.

The Eventbrite page adds that Ms Morgan’s talk ‘suggests the need for white people to turn their gaze and their enquiry towards themselves as one route towards an antiracist stance in race relations’.

MailOnline has contacted the Tavistock and Portman Trust for comment.

The trust made headlines this month after Keira Bell, a 23-year-old who began taking puberty blockers aged 16, claimed she was treated like a ‘guinea pig’ at the clinic.

Ms Bell was injected with testosterone at 17 and had a mastectomy aged 20 before ‘detransitioning’. She said doctors did not carry out a proper psychiatric assessment and should have challenged her more over her decision to transition to a male.

The trust made headlines this month after Keira Bell, 23, claimed she was treated like a 'guinea pig' at the clinic. She won a major High Court battle against the clinic, after judges ruled children under 16 are unlikely to be able to give 'informed consent' to take puberty blockers

The trust made headlines this month after Keira Bell, 23, claimed she was treated like a ‘guinea pig’ at the clinic. She won a major High Court battle against the clinic, after judges ruled children under 16 are unlikely to be able to give ‘informed consent’ to take puberty blockers

After a major High Court battle, judges ruled children under 16 are unlikely to be able to give ‘informed consent’ to take puberty blockers.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust had argued that taking puberty blockers and later cross-sex hormones were entirely separate stages of treatment.

The trust argued that medical specialists in this field should be able to make calls based on their assessments and claimed it was ‘a radical proposal’ to suggest children did not have the capacity to give consent.

But judges ruled that both treatments were ‘two stages of one clinical pathway and once on that pathway it is extremely rare for a child to get off it’.

This means doctors may now seek approval or support from the court before prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to children, to try and avoid liability.

Why did the NHS let me change sex? Keira Bell tells her story in the hope that it will ‘serve as a warning to others’

IT engineer Miss Bell is pictured outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London in January

IT engineer Miss Bell is pictured outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London in January

In an interview earlier this year, Keira told the Daily Mail what happened to her, in order to highlight her plight and, she says, serve as a warning to others. 

Keira was brought up in Hertfordshire, with two younger sisters, by her single mother, as her parents had divorced. Her father, who served in the U.S. military in Britain and has since settled here, lived a few miles away.

She was always a tomboy, she said. She did not like wearing skirts, and can still vividly remember two occasions when she was forced by her family to go out in a dress.

She told the Daily Mail: ‘At 14, I was pitched a question by my mother, about me being such a tomboy. She asked me if I was a lesbian, so I said no. She asked me if I wanted to be a boy and I said no, too.’

But the question set Keira thinking that she might be what was then called transsexual, and today is known as transgender.

‘The idea was disgusting to me,’ she tells me. ‘Wanting to change sex was not glorified as it is now. It was still relatively unknown. Yet the idea stuck in my mind and it didn’t go away.’

Keira’s road to the invasive treatment she blames for blighting her life, began after she started to persistently play truant at school. An odd one out, she insisted on wearing trousers — most female pupils there chose skirts — and rarely had friends of either sex.

When she continually refused to turn up at class as a result of bullying, she was referred to a therapist.

She told him of her thoughts that she wanted to be a boy.

Very soon, she was referred to her local doctor who, in turn, sent her to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) near her home. From there, because of her belief that she was born in the wrong body, she was given treatment at the Tavistock 

Keira had entered puberty and her periods had begun. ‘The Tavistock gave me hormone blockers to stop my female development. It was like turning off a tap,’ she says.

‘I had symptoms similar to the menopause when a woman’s hormones drop. I had hot flushes, I found it difficult to sleep, my sex drive disappeared. I was given calcium tablets because my bones weakened.’

Keira claims she was not warned by the Tavistock therapists of the dreadful symptoms ahead.

Her breasts, which she had been binding with a cloth she bought from a transgender internet site, did not instantly disappear. ‘I was in nowhere land,’ she says.

Yet back she went to the Tavistock, where tests were run to see if she was ready for the next stage of her treatment after nearly a year on blockers. 

A few months later, she noticed the first wispy hairs growing on her chin. At last something was happening. Keira was pleased.

She was referred to the Gender Identity Clinic in West London, which treats adults planning to change sex.

After getting two ‘opinions’ from experts there, she was sent to a hospital in Brighton, East Sussex, for a double mastectomy, aged 20. 

By now, she had a full beard, her sex drive returned, and her voice was deep.

After her breasts were removed, she began to have doubts about becoming a boy.

Despite her doubts, she pressed on. She changed her name and sex on her driving licence and birth certificate, calling herself Quincy (after musician Quincy Jones) as she liked the sound of it. She also altered her name by deed poll, and got a government-authorised Gender Recognition Certificate making her officially male. 

In January last year, soon after her 22nd birthday, she had her final testosterone injection. 

But, after years of having hormones pumped into your body, the clock is not easily turned back. It is true that her periods returned and she slowly began to regain a more feminine figure around her hips. Yet her beard still grows.

‘I don’t know if I will ever really look like a woman again,’ she said. ‘I feel I was a guinea pig at the Tavistock, and I don’t think anyone knows what will happen to my body in the future.’ 

Even the question of whether she will be able to have children is in doubt.

She has started buying women’s clothes and using female toilets again, but says: ‘I worry about it every time in case women think I am a man. I get nervous. I have short hair but I am growing it and, perhaps, that will make a difference.’ 

By law she is male, and she faces the bureaucratic nightmare of changing official paperwork back to say she is female.

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