Horrors across the pond
BOOKS | A blueprint for ending transgender malpractice
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BBC journalist Hannah Barnes’ Time To Think (Swift Press 2023) is a bombshell book. Over roughly 400 pages, she chronicles the rise and fall of the once-largest gender identity clinic in the world—the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) in London. Barnes says her book “is not a story that denies trans identities.” However, she does provide crucial data and testimonies of irreparable harm caused by common gender treatment protocols (many still used in America).
GIDS was founded in 1989 to serve a handful of young boys struggling with gender identity. Originally, treatment involved a psychological approach (i.e., talk therapy). But as pressure from activists and parents grew, GIDS adopted a version of the “Dutch protocol”—often pushing young children down a path of puberty blockers, then cross-sex hormones followed by surgery (after age 18). GIDS clinicians routinely ignored factors like sexual abuse, early trauma, and autism to maintain an “affirmative” stance toward the child’s ideas of gender.
From 2009 to 2020, as more kids claimed gender dysphoria, GIDS saw a “2,800 percent increase” in the number of patients. The result was a financial windfall for GIDS’ parent organization, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
Still, the question for many within GIDS remained: “Are we harming children?” Barnes says yes, a verdict gleaned from more than 100 hours of interviews with nearly 60 former GIDS clinicians. She also interviewed numerous former GIDS patients, profiling them with extensive quotes at the end of several chapters. These interviews contain offensive language, and they represent a variety of political viewpoints. But these voices help humanize a too-often abstract debate.
Harriet, for example, says of having her breasts surgically removed at age 19, “‘I was prepared for it to look horrible. And you know, probably be in pain. …’ But after the surgery, ‘I woke up, freaking out. I couldn’t breathe. I think I was just panicking. I had to have two nurses come in the middle of the night in the hospital and try and calm me down.’”
Barnes’ account can be challenging to wade through. She describes in detail clinical reports, public statements, legal arguments, and other important resources. Sadly, she doesn’t see the root deception here—a denial that gender is God-given and matches one’s biological sex.
Still, Barnes brilliantly exposes how a particular version of trans ideology took over the British scientific community and how many whistleblowers sacrificed their careers to wake Britons up. Ultimately, Time To Think offers a critical blueprint for how Americans across the political spectrum can work to end some of the worst malpractice still harming our children.