Children being put at risk by transgender books that 'misrepresent' medical knowledge, academic claims

Camilla Turner
The book's commissioning editor said that information is

Children are being put at risk by transgender books in primary schools that “misrepresent” medical knowledge on puberty blockers, an academic has claimed.

Books and lesson plans that are designed educate pupils about transgender issues “fail child safeguarding and conflict with the law”, according to Dr Susan Matthews, an honorary senior research fellow in creative writing at Roehampton University.

After analysing a series of books that are circulated in British schools, Dr Matthews found that much of the information given about medical transition is “inaccurate”, adding that “potential harms are ignored, glossed over or falsified”.

She cited a book called Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? which is aimed at children aged seven plus.   The story’s protagonist is a 12-year-old character called Kit who is transitioning from female to male by using hormone blockers to stop the onset of puberty.

The opening passage reads: “My name is Kit and I’m 12 years old. I live in a house with my mum and dad, and our dog, Pickle. When I was born, the doctors told my mum and dad that they had a baby girl, and so for the first few years of my life that’s how my parents raised me. This is called being assigned female at birth. I wasn’t ever very happy that way.”

Later in the story, Kit declares that “the best thing about hormone blockers is that if I change my mind then they won’t hurt my body”.

But Dr Matthews argues that this is “misleading”, since there is no evidence to demonstrate that puberty blockers are fully reversible when taken during puberty, or if they cause permanent harm.

“The presentation of unchecked claims about drug-based interventions through books in schools is an irresponsible minimisation of invasive and experimental treatment, which seems only designed to sell it to young people,” she wrote.

The book's commissioning editor, Andrew Jame, said that information is "not inaccurate and does not misrepresent medical guidance". 

He added: "The advice given in the book, especially referring to puberty blockers, is in line with NHS guidance and numerous LGBT charities and organisations who work with and support trans children and their families. 

"The book is also very clear about the age at which young people can access hormones and then surgery, as well as the strict procedures for doing so, in accordance with treatment pathways as set out by NHS gender identity clinics."

Dr Matthews' critique of children's literature was published in the book Inventing Transgender Children and Young People, edited by Prof Michele Moore and Dr Brunskell-Evans. 

She co-wrote a chapter in the book with Stephanie Davies-Arai, founder of Transgender Trend, a group set up by parents to campaign against gender identity teaching in schools.

The book, due to be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, is a collection of essays by clinicians, psychologists and sociologists. 

In the foreward to the book, a leading psychiatrist has warned that transgender children who undergo medical or surgical treatments risk “serious and irreversible damage”.

Dr David Bell, a consultant psychiatrist at The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, said that critical discussion about the phenomenon of transgenderism and gender dysphoria has been “shut down” by activists.