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My take on the second UKCP statement/letter on Gender Identity

My take on the second UKCP statement:

The problem with declaring that exploratory therapy is not conversion therapy is that the LGBTQ+ communities have grave concerns about 'exploratory' therapy. It appears to us that it is essentially conversion therapy, so it doesn't really matter how many therapists write books, or publish statements saying that they are not the same thing. The LGBTQ+ community DO link these approaches, whether they are therapists themselves or not. Psychoanalysts and behavioural psychologists in the 20th century were permitted to abuse LGB people, and we are concerned that the same thing is happening now to trans people.

There also is a vague misrepresentation here of 'affirmative' approaches. Affirmative does not mean that you immediately confirm that a child or adult is gay/bi/lesbian or trans. It means you show value to their identity as it exists at the time, and you provide support whilst they navigate these issues at their own pace and you accept and convey that if they were to develop a diverse identity that this would be totally fine and as valid as developing a cishet identity. It will necessarily involve an element of exploration. But you would not seek to convince a child to adopt a social constructionist understanding of gender (which you would not expect of a cis child) resulting in them being passively directed away from seeking puberty blockers and eventual cross sex hormones. It is irresponsible and borderline homophobic and transphobic to keep mischaracterising the affirmative approaches which the LGBTQ+ communities essentially designed for themselves and which have been in use for decades. This is how we work safely in therapy in our communities and it is in the public interest to communicate this.

I also can't help but think that it is unusual to assert that a transphobic or gender critical clinician could safely, ethically and effectively offer therapy to a trans person. Would they also encourage minoritised black and ethnic clients to accept therapy from racist? Or for a female survivor of sexual assault to accept therapy from a misogynist or incel? The reasoning here is unqualified, and to assume that any therapist can so thoroughly work through their own issues of bias as to guarantee that they would not emerge in the work with a vulnerable group is myopic and highly irresponsible.

If the UKCP are concerned for their clinicians they should publish the following guidance "If you feel like you don't have the skills to work with LGBTQ+ people, please refer them to someone who does. If you hold beliefs that would distress your client were you to reveal them to them, please refer to someone who does not hold such beliefs as there is no way of either you or us ensuring that your bias is not contaminating your clinical work and harming your client. In order to fall in line with the Equality Act, we will not penalise you in any way for holding such beliefs and making such referrals".

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