MP Nick Fletcher’s transgender remarks criticised
The Don Valley MP has sent a letter to schools in his constituency expressing his views that transgender children are going through an “identity crisis” which will merely pass.
He called for a “pushback” against the issue, which he said was being “propagated by the media”, and backed support for schools who he says were “afraid” of being classed as “transphobic”.
His remarks sparked a backlash from LGBTQ+ campaigners, who said they could lead to bullying and hate crime.
In his letter, Mr Fletcher said: “I believe that quite simply boys are boys and girls are girls.
“It appears from the media that it is now seen by our children and young people that they may be or actually are transgender when it comes to feelings of being a boy or a girl.
“Books which make this ideology acceptable to embrace and such media in all its forms that glamorise this transgender lifestyle are, I’m afraid, affirming something that is nothing more than a phase.
“Children are precious and our job is to guide them through the difficult times in their life, not pigeonhole them or set them on a path of puberty blockers and irreversible infertility and HRT.”
However, the South Yorkshire-based Sheena Amos Youth Trust were outraged by Mr Fletcher’s comments.
The sexual health charity works to transform and create an “inclusive safe environment” where the sexual, emotional and mental wellbeing needs of LGBTQ+ young people are “supported” and “empowered”.
Chief executive Heather Paterson wrote an open letter to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi and Mr Fletcher, in which she said: “Nick continues to perpetuate the myth that trans young people are being rushed through a medical pathway.
“The reality is that the current waiting list for a first appointment with a gender identity clinic is now four years and continuing to rise.
“When we talk about young people transitioning, in the vast majority of cases we are talking about social transition (eg changes to names, pronouns, presentation including hair and clothing), none of which is permanent and has been shown repeatedly to be beneficial to young people’s mental health.
“Nick suggests that young people are being actively encouraged to be trans. However, we have anti-trans articles daily in the mainstream media, the highest levels of hate crime on record, high rates of bullying in schools — if anything trans people in the UK currently are actively discouraged from coming out or pursuing transition.”
Miss Paterson also said Mr Fletcher and Mr Zahawi should consider the “impact” of their statements on transgender identity and ways they could support young people who question their identity.
She said: “They could look at addressing the length of waiting lists for specialist NHS support, the wider underfunding of LGBTQ+ sector, the withdrawal of government funding for anti-bullying initiatives in schools, addressing the rising levels of hate crime etc, rather than trying to tell trans young people that ‘them’ simply shouldn’t exist.”
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones, advised Mr Fletcher to “focus” on issues most affecting his constituents, including the cost of living crisis, and said he should “leave schools” to educate young people.
Mr Fletcher has been approached for further comment but none had been received by our deadline yesterday.