Full autonomy for trans youth

A far-right, anti-trans medical lobby group held their first conference in London on Saturday 23 March writes Terry Conway, Ian Townson, and Rowan Fortune.


The Clinical Advisory Network on Sex and Gender (CAN-SG) advocate against prescribing hormones. They lobby doctors to deny trans youth the healthcare they want and need.

Make no mistake, this is conversion therapy.

They and their police protectors were met by a noisy protest, mostly young, mostly masked and determined that if we might not be able to stop the conference we would make clear that this was not neutral science as suggested by the use of the word ‘clinical’ in the host groups title, but a vicious, deathly attack on trans people, especially young people.

in the wake of the murder of Brianna Ghey, of the daily physical attacks on trans people on the streets, the need to come together and protest has rarely been greater.

The parallels around the denial of trans control of their bodies are clear. There are deep commonalities with the attacks on women’s reproductive rights, with the demands of the Disabled People’s Movement, with the struggle for intersex liberation and with the idea that being LGB isnot ‘just a phase’ to be ‘cured’ by electro-convulsive therapy, punishing people for showing an erotic interest in those of the same gender. This should lead to strong alliances between feminists, disability, intersex, sexual minority and the queer movements as a whole and, in this instance, with trans youth particularly.

On the day our lobby was mobile – moving between the different entrances to the building and at some points taking the road. Not surprisingly the police were unfriendly, piling into protestors to clear one entrance. But the disciplined behaviour of the unofficial stewards and the crowd as a whole – ‘We move together’ – as we backed away from the entrance prevented anyone being physically hurt.

Most popular chants included a rif on an old slogan of the reproductive rights movement:

📢 Do no harm, thats a lie, you dont care if (should be when in both versions) children die.

📢 When trans youth are under attack. What do we do? 💥 STAND UP 💥 FIGHT BACK

Other intersectional slogans could have been apt, too.

📢 No decision about us without us

📢 Not the church, not the state, trans people will decide our fate!

📢 Keep your filthy laws off my body!

These slogans transcend particular struggles because at one level they are the same struggle. With women, trans people, disabled people, socialists and feminists on one side, and CAN-SG, the police, the state and capital on the other. The contrast between the dour, conservatively dressed anti-queer conference attendees and the vibrant, diverse, joyful protestors makes this confrontation clear.

The denial of trans healthcare is intitutionalised oppression, which sometimes realises itself at the level of social murder. Regret rates, the spurious justification given for this denial, are lower than for many essential and routine surgeries, and most regret is due to social stigma rather than inherent to transition.

Informed, timely, widely available co-productive healthcare is the best solution even to the rare instances of regret. But in any case there is no real concern about transition regret. There is a concern about trans existence, and the bogus idea of regret is used to oppose trans existence.

A healthcare system that uplifts and supports trans people would also support detrans people, too, and those who decide not to medically transition or to retransition. In every instance informed consent is best . There is no conflict except in the bad-faith rhetoric of bigots. The selfsame who were challenged on London’s streets, and will continue to be challenged until we have full queer liberation.

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Rowan Fortune authored Writing Nowhere; edited the anthology of utopian short fiction Citizens of Nowhere; and contributed to the collaborative book System Crash. It writes on utopian imagination, revolutionary theory and trans* liberation.

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