Previous pieces on the No Outsiders/Andrew Moffat affair:
This article continues from Part 2.
Promoting Gender Transitioning to Children
Moffat’s suggestive material continues. Gender transitioning is controversial, with concerns accentuated in the context of children.
As part of the lesson plan, Moffat proposes showing young children a BBC programme that follows a young child undergoing social transition. The programme makes unequivocal, partisan statements which have the effect of proselytising ideas to children and is tantamount to indoctrination.
The child makes an unopposed claim that “if you feel like a boy but you’re in a girl’s body then you’re a boy” (4min), before going on to state that he was “born in the wrong body” (9min). The child is shown to exhibit a loathing of her own body stating that “the only difference between our (trans) life and a born male boy is that we’re trapped in this awful body and you have to do loads of medical stuff” (13.35).
The documentary proceeds to show the child undergoing social transition – changing her name, applying for a new passport and controversially, even injecting hormone blockers (21:20). The blockers are presented as “reversible”, a sort of “pause” and “play” on puberty (22min), before going onto depict discussions on hormone therapy and its side-effect of infertility.
This simplistic, one-sided narrative fails to present the treatment of gender dysphoria in a balanced way.
Gender dysphoria (GD, formerly gender identity disorder) is a condition where a person feels intense anxiety due to an inner feeling which does not accord with physical (biological) reality. This typically manifests itself in the person desiring to be another gender, disliking one’s own body and a desire for primary and secondary sex characteristics of another gender according to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria.
A thorough, unbiased look at the issue requires examining uncomfortable topics around the metaphysical incoherence of the transgender discourse, desistance rates among children, the medical impact of transitioning, suicide rates of transgenders, and the practical issues it is giving rise to.
Metaphysics of the Self
The girl in the BBC programme claims that she is a boy trapped in girl’s body – this is a metaphysical assertion that cannot be substantiated, either biologically or rationally. For humans at least, as outlined in any authoritative embryological text, the chromosome (and in particular the SRY gene) remains the arbiter in determining sex prior to birth. Sexual differences continue after, even at the cellular level.
Whilst gender is understood with a postmodern underpinning, the gender-affirming treatment for GD requires a degree of certainty and a scientific method. This unsurprisingly causes inconsistencies. If gender (and, according to Butler, the “sexed body” itself) is a social construct and distinct from the “real self”, then why is there a dependence on various invasive measures of the body for the person to feel a sense of alignment? Moreover, how does a biological male know what it feels like to be a female (or nonbinary)? Is not the very medium (physical reality) being used to determine male/female physiology which is supposed to be subjective and constantly shifting? If gender, sex and body are social constructs, then why is this “inate” inner feeling itself not a social construct? When the child claims that he is a boy trapped in a girl’s body, is this not a positive, objective statement that is being relied upon?
Why does this inner feeling supersede biology in the case of sex and not other properties such as age? When a 69-year-old man petitioned to legally have his age lowered to 49 because it fits his body better, claiming that age is fluid like gender, his case was thrown out of the courts. In cases of Species Identity Disorder, where a person begins to identify wholly or partly as an animal, should this person be supportively aligned to his/her inner sense of reality, or actual bodily reality?
If reality is whatever one believes it to be, then why are others required to accept this reality? Should everyone accept the “reality” of a person who believes himself/herself to be a dog, or believes he/she is disabled?
This leads to a further question. According to the underpinning philosophy, we are whatever we believe to be, and the truth is whatever we want it to be. Why, then, is this belief coercively being taught in a dogmatic fashion, through the “oppressive structures” of PREVENT and the “disciplining power dynamics” of the law?
The BBC programme gives the perception that a linear transitioning, or “gender-affirming” treatment is the only answer. This masks the issue of what is known as desistance – where a person’s mental state aligns with physical reality.
Transgender activists declare desistance a myth, however, Dr Kenneth Zucker’s position suggests otherwise. Despite his credentials, having headed the group which developed the latest diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria (DSM-5), he famously had his clinic, which specifically handled GD cases, shutdown after pressure from transgender activists. He believed it was better to help children feel comfortable with their own bodies. This was spun as “conversion therapy” and his work was suppressed.
The clinic’s own work with children found that despite kids being “insistent, persistent and consistent” in their alternate identification, they eventually resolved their identity with their bodily reality. Getting children to “transition” early only served to cement a gender-affirming trajectory. Pertinently there is little to no research which indicates if a child will “persist” or “desist” in a gender identity.
Zucker points to four studies on which he based his practice. These studies became the subject of a critical commentary published in the International Journal for Transgenderism last year. It pointed out several methodological problems, including the oft-cited categorisation issue; that the definition for GD has shifted over a period and children have been miscategorised. The review effectively concludes that longitudinal studies on persistence and desistance are “not the best tools” for understanding children.
Zucker, however, responded. He stated that “the similarities across the various iterations of the DSM are far greater than the differences” and moreover the “use of the DSM diagnosis as a categorical metric… has its limitations”. He further added,
“In any case, the ‘real’ objection to the term ‘desistance’ is that some clinicians, some researchers, and some activists simply don’t like the empirical fact that there are some children who received the DSM-5 diagnosis of gender dysphoria (or its predecessor DSM-III/DSM-IV labels gender identity disorder of childhood or gender identity disorder) who do not continue to have “it” when they are older.”
In the four studies that Zucker relied on, 67% of those who were diagnosed according to the DSM-5 criteria desisted. The critique also ignored a 2012 study which found a persistence rate of 12%.
If most children align with their biological sex, why is gender-affirming treatment being advocated to young children? Even the guidelines published by the American Psychological Association clearly states that there is no consensus on the approach to treating children with GD.
More importantly, why is Moffat – or any school for that matter – promoting such confusion to impressionable young children in manner which sells gender-affirming treatment as the sole and proven treatment to GD?
The BBC programme uncritically proclaims that the puberty blockers are “completely reversible” and implies there are no side effects – it is a simple “pause and play” mechanism. But is it?
The puberty blocker is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) injection and is offered to children.
Firstly, to claim that “pausing” puberty for a number of years is reversible is ridiculous. One cannot reverse the number of development years that have passed. Secondly, this claim is, at the very least, unverifiable because in most cases children that are on blockers proceed to the next stage of their treatment. Dr Norman Spack, for instance, claimed in 2016 that he put some 200 children on puberty blockers and “100% have gone to take cross-sex hormones”. There are no longitudinal studies to ascertain the effects of blockers.
Does it have any side-effects?
Dr Michael Biggs, an associate professor at Oxford’s Department of Sociology earlier this month resigned from NHS’s only specialised clinic for transgender children, accusing it of covering up the negative effects of blockers. His own research found that there was a “significant increase” in self-harm and suicidal feelings, whilst parents found a “significant increase” in behavioural and emotional problems. He said that “puberty blockers exacerbated gender dysphoria.”
There are other contentious issues that are not adequately presented, or covered at all:
- The impact of hormone therapy and its side effects.
- The fact that studies examining the long-term impact of sex-reassignment treatment are, at the very least, inconclusive.
- The high attempted suicide rates amongst the transgender/gender nonconforming persons, including those who are supported by their families.
Moffat, however, seems content in “selling” misleading, simplistic information to children under the rubric of equality. If it is argued that the children are too young to be exposed to the studies and arguments outlined above, then why expose them to an ideological view of gender dysphoria in the first place?
Moffat’s dogmatism does not stop here.
He promotes gender-neutral toilets to children in his assemblies as concordant with No Outsiders.
Setting aside theological contentions and the usual right-wing political opposition, the issue is the subject of much political debate, with voices across the spectrum raising concerns, as increasing number of women and girls refuse to use gender-neutral toilets. Feminists (“TERFs“) and lesbians most notably have been at odds with this development. They see such policies and the impact on policing, for instance, as misogynist and an “erasure” of women, whilst others, rather ironically, argue it is against the Equality Act and United Nations guidance.
Moffat frames opposition to gender-neutral toilets as opposing No Outsiders, implying that political viewpoints that contradicts Moffat’s preaching are unacceptable and intolerant.
This is, again, tantamount to political indoctrination, and hardly an example of Moffat not “teaching children what to think”.
No Outsiders into the Home and Community
At this point, it is worth recalling Moffat’s statements on what he is doing at the school: he is neither teaching children what to think, nor is he saying what is right or wrong. Successive articles on this blog have shown the opposite of what Moffat would like parents and the broader public to believe.
As if this is not sufficient, it is worth considering the scale of Moffat’s mission targeting the Muslim community.
Moffat’s mission to coerce acceptance of his views includes the homes of Muslim pupils. Framing his work through countering radicalisation, in his book Reclaiming Radical Ideas, Moffat writes,
“The aim is now to extend No Outsiders ethos and use it to foster community cohesion through parent/child workshops… I am unsure whether the ethos we have created in school is always mirrored outside the school walls…
After quoting a parent who highlights that the pupils can be taught about homosexuality at school, but at home they teach them homosexuality is not allowed, Moffat writes the following:
We have enabled conversations with our parent community about LGBT equality that may have never taken place. This is an achievement in itself and a worthy beginning, but two years further on, questions need to be asked about the effectiveness of the work when it is confined to working behind the school walls. Are we teaching children to say one thing when in school and another at home or in their local community, and if so, is this real change? Are we really engaging with the community on new ideas?”
Shockingly, more than telling children what to think, Moffat is seeking to enact a change of beliefs at the community level! The following steps sum up Moffat’s mission:
- Create an ethos based on his agenda at school and advocate it in assemblies and lessons through the force of PREVENT and baseless invocations of the law.
- Convert children to his ideas
- Convert parents to his ideas.
If this is not a concerted effort to proselytise and indoctrinate, then I am not sure what is.
It exposes Moffat as someone who is deeply disingenuous. He is misleading parents by telling them that he is not “telling children what to think”. He is misleading the public by stating that he is not taking a moral stance.
Yet his No Outsiders materials show he is mapping out a plan of mass indoctrination.
Over the past few weeks it has been shown that Moffat’s No Outsiders project, whilst sold as innocent, has several issues. Moffat uses the law and the structurally Islamophobic PREVENT strategy to forcibly drive antithetical beliefs and values sold as absolute fact into the target community. These beliefs and values extend beyond merely respecting differences. The analysis shows a concerted, fundamentally ideologically effort to undermine the religious beliefs of children by diffusing confusion and despotically coercing a particular worldview and associated beliefs as normative. The target is not only the minds of Muslim children, but the homes and communities in which they reside in. This isn’t education. This is mass indoctrination.
Despite the hostile mainstream media and spin tactics designed to repress this dissent, it is for parents at Parkfield Community School to maintain their brave posture and not compromise. Nothing short of complete removal of No Outsiders – from the ethos to the permeation into disparate lessons and assemblies – is required, with parental authority reinstated around any topic that relates to SRE. Questions must also be asked as to whether the content falls into political indoctrination and unwanted proselytising.
For most traditional Muslims, the teaching of relativized family/relationship constitutions – whether it is homosexual or heterosexual – as normal and “OK” to their children is a redline that cannot be crossed. This is, ultimately, to protect the faith of their children and instil solidity and certitude at a time when their beliefs, history and identity are forcibly re-written through government policies such as PREVENT and “integration” agendas. This is not a specific issue of LGBT discourses; it is a concern of increased state regulation and interference of religion and actualising tyranny of the majority.
The same Islam however, also enforces a mannerism (adaab) towards society at large which emphasises good conduct and moreover, commands Muslims not to impose their own worldview/beliefs and its acceptability on others.
I will also add that I, and I suspect many Muslims, will not coercively make the children of LGBT members of this society morally accept as normative the Islamic beliefs around homosexuality and transgenderism, and neither will I classify such children as “outsiders” using a demonising political structure like PREVENT if they do not.
We believe in co-existence by respect, not by applying faux-legal, social, political and psychological duress to tyrannically hammer down a worldview.
Say, “I will not follow your desires, for I would then have gone astray, and I would not be of the [rightly] guided.” (Al-Quran 6:56)
“And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.” (Al-Quran 18:28)
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “There shall be no harm and no reciprocating harm.” (Ibn Majah)
The Prophet, peace be upon him said, “If anyone harms (others), Allah will harm him, and if anyone shows hostility to others, Allah will show hostility to him.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)
 Kenneth J. Zucker (2018) The myth of persistence: Response to “A critical commentary on follow-up studies and ‘desistance’ theories about transgender and gender non-conforming children” by Temple Newhook et al. (2018), International Journal of Transgenderism, 19:2, 231-245, DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2018.1468293
 Ibid. It states: “no approach to working with [transgender and gender nonconforming] children has been adequately, empirically validated, consensus does not exist regarding best practice with pre-pubertal children. Lack of consensus about the preferred approach to treatment may be due, in part, to divergent ideas regarding what constitutes optimal treatment outcomes…”
 For female sex hormones the side effects include depression, mood swings, glucose intolerance, abdominal cramps and migraine/headaches. For male sex hormones, they include prostate abnormalities and cancer, depression, gastro-intestinal bleeding, nausea, anxiety, irritability, hypertension, male-pattern baldness and acne. BNF 68, The Authority on the Selection and Use of Medicines, p.492, 499.
 A medical review conducted by the University of Birmingham in 2004 found that much of the medical research on sex reassignment was poor and that “There is a huge uncertainty over whether changing someone’s sex is a good or a bad thing. While no doubt great care is taken to ensure that appropriate patients undergo gender reassignment, there’s still a large number of people who have the surgery but remain traumatised – often to the point of committing suicide.” A 2009, longitudinal study looking at the quality of life fifteen years after sex reassignment surgery reported a lower quality of health. Another 2011 study suggests that sex reassignment “may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism. Other studies examining short term impact suggest an improvement in well-being e.g. here and here.
 Whilst stigma and discrimination understandably may exacerbate attempted suicide rates (a causal relationship between transgender suicide and discrimination/stigma/victimisation is inconclusive), this does not account for the continued high suicide rates among those who were accepted by family (33% vs average of 14% in the US) and where transgender persons are not noticed or occasionally noticed as transgender (40 and 46% trans women and men respectively). Those persons who have transitioned and state that their lives are “much improved” continue to have a suicide rate of 39%.
 Moffat, A., 2018. Reclaiming Radical Ideas in School. Oxon: Routledge, p.7
 Ibid., p.8