There once were two doctors. One was called Ken and the other one was called Ray and they worked in the same place. They tried to understand why some people were the way they were. Ray decided that you were more likely to be gay if you had older brothers. He also decided that trans women were really men who were really excited by the thought of being women or else some kind of gay guy who didn’t know when to stop.
Between them they saw hundreds of trans people and tried to work out where each one fitted. Ken also saw a large number of trans children. Because Ray had said that trans women weren’t really women, Ken thought that trans girls needed to be persuaded to be boys. He started telling trans girls they really had to be boys, and telling their mums and dads that the trans girls shouldn’t be allowed to do anything that was girly.
However, Ray had met a number of trans women who didn’t fit his theory. Ah, he thought, they must be liars, and therefore they must be really excited by thinking they were women. This meant that any trans woman had to be one or the other.
Ray and Ken became quite famous, and a lot of other doctors listened to them about how to treat trans people. Some trans people started to complain – loudly. “What about trans men?” they asked. “Isn’t telling girls they really have to be boys abuse?”
So the people who paid Ken and Ray a lot of money decided to think. After a while they decided that what Ken was doing was wrong and dangerous, so they closed the clinic where both Ray and Ken worked, and said sorry to the children who went there.
Ken seemed pretty angry about this. Well, wouldn’t you be? So he started complaining about the horrid trans people who he said had shut down his clinic. His friend Ray agreed.
Some people with big cameras heard about this. “An argument”, they thought, “this needs to go on the telly.” So they went over with their big cameras and made a film, and persuaded the people with the transmitters to show it. To advertise the film they thought they’d say something like “nasty trans people forced Ken out of his job”. The transmitter people started to realise that wasn’t fair and might not actually be true. After all, a few years earlier they found out that another expert doctor they had shown on the telly turned out not to be an expert at all, so being fair was important. “The film is fair”, they said, before deciding that Ray could go on their news programme the night before the film was to be shown.
Ray was introduced as an expert in what makes men gay. He decided to put the programme straight, and said things like “most children who seem trans when young don’t grow up to be trans”, and “we can’t tell who is going to end up trans and who is going to be normal”, and “we should teach children to be who they are anatomically, but if the children really can’t cope then and only then we can give them some blocker pills”. He interrupted the trans person quite a lot, and didn’t like the things said about his friend Ken. When the trans lady said that about half of trans children are so unhappy that they try ending their own lives, Ray shouted that was wrong – that trans children are no more likely to try to end their lives than anyone else. It was those horrid trans people who were emotionally blackmailing parents into thinking their children were trans, and the telly was very one-sided in supporting trans people.
The problem was that a lot of what Ray said on the telly was wrong. People have already shown that, if you don’t include boys who like playing with dolls or girls who like playing football, most of the remaining trans children do grow up to be trans. Ray had ignored the people who shut the clinic who had said that trying to force children to be one thing or another was child abuse and was very wrong indeed. And people have shown that lots of trans children are very unhappy, and lots do try to end their lives. It’s not that the children are unhappy being trans, but they’re unhappy because everyone else seems to have a problem with them being trans, and this sometimes includes the doctors they see, like Ray and Ken.
Helen is going to see the people with the transmitters tomorrow, and try to tell them why they really shouldn’t show a debate like this any more. The person asking the questions seemed worried that children might be having surgery, or that they couldn’t change their minds. But if she’d done some basic research on computers, she would have known that children can’t have surgery until they’re grown up, and stopping taking the blocker pills was easy and didn’t damage the children at all. So Helen will be asking why this basic research simply wasn’t done, and why the people with transmitters want to keep showing doctors who other doctors have decided can’t be trusted.