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LWD RESPONSE TO CASS REPORT 10 April 2024

 

Labour Women’s Declaration welcomes the Cass Report, and trusts that the NHS, political parties, schools and social services will all take note of the comprehensive information and understanding that is laid out.  It is both game-changing, and also calmly rational and sensible. It moves the Overton window miles away from the pernicious “affirmative approach” promoted by gender ideology, which has held sway in the NHS, in schools and in the Labour Party for so long. It’s not possible any longer for any credible political party to hark back to the old ways now, even though that will involve them rowing back from previous statements and commitments. 

The report concurs with concerns that we and others, including very many silenced parents, have been raising for years, most particularly that the focus on gender distress as the only important issue means that crucial matters such as autism spectrum disorder and the whole range of mental health difficulties are being ignored for this cohort of children and adolescents.  We wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation that all children and adolescents referred should begin by having a holistic assessment which will then inform an individualised care plan.

We particularly welcome the proposal for specific follow-through service for young people between 17 and 25 within the regional centres.  The automatic transfer of those on the waiting list for children’s gender services to adult services without anything resembling proper assessment or continuity of care has been a matter of considerable concern, given all we know about the maturation of the brain not being completed until about 25 years old.  

Another proposed innovation is one that has been more and more obviously lacking – a service for detransitioners.  As the report accurately identifies, those who regret their transition are unlikely to wish to return to the same service which facilitated that process.  Not only do those individuals need advice and support for ceasing hormonal treatment and managing the effects of any surgery, but it is obviously essential that the NHS learns from such people in order to better inform future policy. 

The report lays out the complete lack of any definitive research regarding the impact of puberty suppression.  Grave concerns about the lack of adequate controls on private prescribing of such suppression or other hormones are highlighted. It recommends that the NHS considers carefully the implications of private prescribing  including the likely pressures on the NHS as a result of  the fallout from such prescribing.  Additionally, work needs to be undertaken regarding the dispensing responsibilities of pharmacists in relation to private prescriptions, and it is suggested that statutory prevention of overseas prescribing should be considered.

If there are disappointments in the Report, they are largely a result of the limitations of the parameters within which it was commissioned.  Definitive guidance for schools regarding so-called ‘social transition’ is urgently needed, but despite recognition of this need, it was not within Dr Cass’s remit to rule on this. The draft guidance from the government needs to be revamped in the light of all that is highlighted here in the Cass Report.  What concerns us here is that the impact on other pupils  of a child transitioning within a school context is not highlighted in the report, only the potential impact on the transitioned child.  

This report should have a massive effect on the way the new gender services function, and this should eventually lead to far better assessment and support for those up to the age of 25 presenting with gender distress.  

We call on all in the Labour Party to read the Report carefully.  As Shadow Secretary for Health, Wes Streeting has welcomed it unreservedly with this statement.
Following the withdrawal of UKCP from the Conversion Therapy Ban Coalition, damning legal opinions on various pieces of draft legislation, including a critical response from the Scottish Law Commission on the Scottish Conversion Ban Bill draft, Dr Cass quietly blows out of the water the Labour party’s current commitment to introduce a “no loopholes” Conversion Practices Ban. Her emphasis (at 17.20 to 17.22) on ensuring that all aspects of holistic assessment, including psychological therapies, must be absolutely ring-fenced from any ‘inclusive conversion practices ban’, is something that must give the party pause.

Both Anneliese Dodds and Wes Streeting said, when pressed last July on why the party had changed policy away from support for Self ID, that they had listened to the evidence. We were disappointed to see Anneliese post, on the eve of the Cass report, a renewed call for a no loopholes ban, when Cass makes it so clear that this is unhelpful. Now’s the time to study the evidence Dr Cass has presented, and to realise that there is no shame in revising policies when the evidence demands change. This comprehensive report, which accords with the points we and others have been making within the party for years, despite attempts to silence us, should now inform all policies in the arena of sex and gender. 

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