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Why is the UK media telling lies about trans youth?

Why is the UK media telling lies about trans youth?

media Young trans youth showing their Pride in New York | Photo: GenderFamilyProject Instagram / Daniel Tepper

Another day, another public media story trying to show a negative side to a vital transgender charity and suggesting, yet again, that we let our transgender children flounder in the dark until they’re of an age that the anti-trans lobby considers they’re able to make their own ‘choice’ on identified gender.

Why is this even allowed in our society?

It is blatant transphobia, plain and simple. If a child is transgender, in that, they are not comfortable with the biological sex characteristics and gender they were assigned at birth, it is not a choice, it is how they are.

If a young adolescent is gay, it is not a choice, it is just how they are. If a child has red hair, or brown skin or is tall, it is not a choice, it is just how they are.

The truth of the matter is that we trans families live with children who are deeply unhappy with their assigned gender and biological sex characteristics.

In these former years, before our children reach adulthood, our principle goal as parents is to recognise them for who they are and support them on that journey.


There is one single charity that assists with that – Mermaids, yet do we see an outpouring of support for that charity that does such vital work? Do we see an outpouring of support for our trans children and us, as parents.

No, what we see is a barrage of transphobic abuse, dressed up as concern for children, that goes unregulated in publicly available media and social forums.

Mermaids has been vilified for being a ‘child sex change charity’ yet, as a charity and an organization, it actually has no involvement in any treatment of any child.

I liken its involvement in my family’s journey to that of the Samaritans; people who understand, at the end of a phone line, people who understand at the end of an email, along with availability of informed literature and information on sources of help and assistance.

A big part of being involved with Mermaids is the added lifeline of a safe place to discuss issues surrounding my trans child with other parents in a similar situation.

Mermaids provides vital support for those parents with primary age children who transition socially, with a change of pronouns and clothes.

These children show dramatic improvements in their mental health, becoming happy children!

Why would any reasonable person want to take that support away from my family and others just like us? If you swap the word trans/transgender in any of these public anti-trans posts and articles that are proliferating, with the word ‘gay’ or ‘black’ or ‘disabled’, instantly there would be public outrage.

Gender, however, whilst protected in law seems not to attract the same level of actual protection. Much of the information being published is mistruths and scaremongering at its worst level.

UK media and transphobia

So, how can this be legal for media outlets in Britain to use lies and mistruths in their sensationalised article titles & misleading or outright untrue content?

‘Delinquent transgender children’s charity Mermaids’, ‘…end transgender “experiment” on children’, ‘…child sex change charity…’

My daughter is 19 and is nowhere near the position of gender reassignment surgery yet even after 18 months living as her true self.

When a child is ill, with let’s say appendicitis, the child will be operated on. If a child is injured, breaks bones and needs pins, the child will be operated on.

They will have surgery that is needed at that point in time.

If a child needs to present and live as a different gender to that assigned at birth, what NEVER happens, is that child receives gender reassignment surgery.

When I say NEVER, I mean NEVER. There is not one single case.

This is the truth about trans youth

So why is our media allowed to scaremonger and try to persuade the general public into thinking that this is the case?

The Times, yet again, harps on about sex-change medications being given to children. Hormone treatment is NOT given to children on the NHS.

A person must be at least sixteen years of age before they are prescribed hormones. This is ONLY done after lengthy assessments by health professionals over a period of months and, in the case of children growing into adulthood, often years. Unfortunately, the lack of speedy care for trans children and adults can lead them to seek unregulated help.

The only physical intervention children may receive is puberty blockers, and only after puberty has started, which give them time and space to grow, for them to be assessed over time and to explore their gender without the pressure of unwanted bodily changes impacting their mental health.

All medications come with some risk but it is the balance of that risk over the benefits to the patient that is the deciding factor on whether to proceed. This is a decision for experts in their fields, doctors, endocrinologists and, of course the patient – certainly not the media and vocal anti-trans groups.

For example, there is a risk that ADHD children may become drug-dependent, over the long term, due to the stimulant nature of the medications to treat their condition.

Who should decide if such prescribing should continue? The specialist doctors in conjunction with the parents and the patient or a vocal minority of the media?

No-one is pushing kids to transition

We continue to have our media painting a picture of parents pushing their children into hormone replacements, ‘trans-ing’ their children, with Mermaids offering medical interventions.

If it wasn’t so serious a subject, it would be laughable. I could hand-on-heart say that no parent would willingly choose to have a trans child.

Even without the difficulties that the anti-trans groups try to impose on their treatments, their daily lives and their rights, along with the prejudices out there, it is a difficult and often traumatic journey.

What is actually happening is that our trans children, young people and adults are suffering and I mean really suffering not just from gender and body dysphoria and all of the mental health issues that that can encompass, but are torn down day by day in the media and by the minority but outspoken anti-trans groups.

We, as parents, families and loved ones, do our best to support our trans children but we are fighting an uphill battle, whose gradient is steepened, day in, day out, by those vocal anti-trans groups.

What harm do they do, you might ask? They look to limit the human rights of trans children and adults, they promote an environment where doubt is raised about the integrity of our trans community, suggesting they make women’s spaces less safe, they incite hatred against transgender people, child and adult alike, and their families and organisations who support them. Is selling newspapers really that important?

Proud mom

I’m the proud mom of 3 beautiful children.

Two are cis and one is trans. I love them unconditionally.

I wouldn’t change any single one of them from who they are. So who out there in the world, has the right to try to erase my trans daughter’s rights and, indeed, her very existence as the person she is?

If you, personally, do not believe in discrimination of minority groups of our society, do not sit by and watch. Do you feel inclined to make a judgement based on the negative press you see about transgender children and adults, take a step back – do you know a trans person and their family?

If the answer is no and you choose to form opinions based on the negative spouting of people who know very little, if anything, of knowing or living with a trans person, you are affirming these transphobic views – that makes you transphobic.

The time is here when we, and I mean everyone out there in our society, must stand up for our transgender minority and let them know they are valued and supported and let them have their rightful existence in peace from persecution.

Sitting quietly by is not an option. If you see transphobia on social media or in the news sites, complain.

These people need to know that transphobia is not acceptable on any level.

You have the power to play a part in the transformation of society. You can make it a safer and more inclusive place for our transgender community.

Dr Jan Birley is mum to three grown children, one of whom happens to be trans. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and her two daughters.