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Updated: May 20

Introduction to Briefing Paper for MSPs

ScotPAG representatives were in attendance at the recent Holyrood meeting reported in yesterday’s Sunday Post We heard various stories from families about how gender ideology in schools via parts of the RSHP, the Scottish Government Supporting Trans Pupils Guidance, 3rd sector activists groups such as LGBTYS and some teachers had influenced and encouraged children to think they could change sex. We also heard from one teenage girl who bravely spoke up about her damaging experiences at school and in care, of being misled about biological reality.

ScotPAG abhors the fact that our Scottish Government has, to date, ignored the concerns of many women’s and professional groups who have, for at least the last five years, been highlighting well-evidence research about the potential harms of embedding an un-evidenced ideology in all our public services. The continued denial of material reality by our Scottish Government is damaging all our public bodies. It is now imperative that the Scottish Government listens to concerns and acts to implement all of the Cass recommendations but first starts with removing gender ideology in all its forms from Scottish schools. See below for a briefing paper provided to MSPs by Carolyn Brown (retired educational psychologist, on behalf of WRNScotland and ScotPAG)

Gender Ideology: Summary of Some Main Issues

1. Brief background

In the 1990s onwards with the advent of gender and queer studies, the

concept of an ‘inner gender identity’ was conceived by theorists. These

perspectives have been used by activists, politicians, and corporate business

associations to push a specific agenda that biological sex and gender are the

same and that gender identity trumps biology. This impacts on every aspect of

society including: free speech, women’s rights, education, children’s

development, children’s safeguarding, legislation, family life, and politics.

Activist groups such as Stonewall and Mermaids shifted their campaigning

agenda away from equal rights for gay and lesbians to an agenda based on

gender ideology in support only of trans. However, they piggybacked on the

gay rights agenda calling themselves LGBTQ. Many in the gay community

have distanced themselves from the LGBTQ agenda which they see as

homophobic [e.g. LGB Alliance, Gay Men’s Rights, Sex Matters etc.].

2. No clarity of definitions

There is no clear definition of what is meant by the term ‘transgender’. The

term means different things to different individuals. Transgender is commonly

described by activists e.g. Stonewall and LBGT Youth Scotland as an

individual whose gender identity is different from the gender or sex into which

they were born. There is no evidence to support this assertion and there is no

evidence to prove that gender identity exists. Activist organisations state that

the term ‘transgender’ is ‘an umbrella term’ which encompasses various forms

of behaviour ranging from a child who experiences unease with his or her

body, to a man demonstrating a fetish. This is also stated in the Scottish

Government’s guidance for Scottish Schools: Supporting Transgender Pupils

in Schools. This guidance refers to young people but clarifies that this term

also includes children of school age. The terms sex and gender are not the same: sex is biologically based whereas gender is a hypothetical concept which draws its influences from society and the context in which individuals live.

Gender dysphoria is described by the NHS as ‘a sense of unease that a

person may have because of a misalignment between their biological sex

and their gender identity’.

3. Self-ID

The concept of self ID means that anyone can declare their gender identity

without any medical requirements. In reality this means men can declare they

are women and boys can declare they are girls and vice versa. Although not

legal, this idea has been embedded into our institutions and has led to an

undermining of safety, dignity and privacy for women and girls.

There are various examples where sexual assaults have already happened

e.g. dangerous males self-id-ing as women, placed in Cornton Vale women’s

prison who then have assaulted other female prisoners. A man self-identifying

as a woman sexually assaulted a child in Morrisons female only toilet in

Dundee and in Dunfermline.

4. Failure to acknowledge accountability or to listen

There has been insufficient scrutiny to date about concerns raised by

individuals, professionals and grassroots groups and women’s groups. There

have been frequent communications of concern by grassroots organisations to

public services such as the NHS, Scottish Prison Service, Schools, Councils,

Education Scotland, Care Inspectorate etc. These concerns have nearly

always been responded to in dismissive ways with no sense of accountability.

There is a real feeling amongst grassroots organisations, parents and

concerned individuals that politicians and public services are not listening.

5. Safeguarding issues for children

The Scottish Government school’s guidance and the Care Inspectorate

guidance recommend an affirming approach, including social transitioning,

towards young people who state they are ‘trans’. This is a simplistic and

potentially harmful approach regarding the complexities involved in a child’s

psycho-social and sexual development. There is no evidence to support the

contention that this approach is effective or beneficial. We know from the

Tavistock GIDS findings (Hannah Barnes) that nearly all the young people

who were referred to the clinic who said they were ‘trans’ spoke of their

families holding homophobic views. Also, many children who call themselves

‘trans’ are autistic and are likely to be rigid in their thinking. There are

numerous un-evidenced statements and recommendations in both guidance

documents which have been raised as concerns by various groups and

individuals since publication.

Long-term studies have not demonstrated lasting mental health benefits of

‘gender affirmative’ interventions [NICE Guidelines 2019]. Of puberty blockers

and cross-sex hormones for childhood and adolescent dysphoria, Nice

Guidelines ranked the standard of evidence as ‘very low’ in every category it

considered. NICE concluded, that any benefit for puberty blockers and crosssex

hormones, ‘could represent changes that are either of questionable

clinical value, or the studies themselves are not reliable and changes could be

due to confounding bias or chance.’ These concerns have been vindicated by

the Final Cass Report (April 2024). We know from extensive research that the process of puberty itself helps most teenagers to resolve their feelings of unease about their bodies (Griffin et al,2021).

Prior to the Final Cass Report, there was clear evidence of a lack of decent

research and that there was significant misrepresentation by activists and

some politicians, of the findings from poorly conducted research. This is

demonstrably the case in the Scottish Government’s school’s guidance

Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools which has has been repeatedly

commented on by numerous authors (e.g. Dr J Cunningham 2023, C. Brown


6. Is the term ‘trans’ real?

As mentioned earlier, there’s no clear definition of the term. The term

‘transsexual’ now considered old fashioned, was in effect, more accurate as it

referred to adults, mostly males in middle age who felt they were unhappy

being male some of whom were prepared to seek some form of medical

intervention. It is a different matter completely for gender questioning children.

Prior to the last decade or so, the number of children experiencing extreme

distress as a result of their perception of their sex, was extremely few. Many

experienced clinicians have written about ‘trans’ in children being as 21st

century phenomenon, and a 21st century medical and social scandal (Barnes

2023, Joyce 2022, Biggs 2019, Bell 2024).

The ‘product placement’ of the idea of ‘trans’ in school and in social media,

has meant that children have been fed the idea that there is such a thing as a

‘trans’ child, and that children can be born in the wrong body and can choose

to be the opposite sex. This is simply untrue. Children are extremely

suggestible, especially those children with additional support needs.

7. Psychological harms for children associated with the term ‘trans'

1. The concept of ’trans’ is ill-defined and therefore what is being presented to

children is fictional. This would not be so damaging if the end point was not

leading to a path of medicalization for which as Dr Cass has made clear, there

is no evidence of successful outcomes.

2. Even if medicalization is avoided, there is a real risk that an affirming

approach including social transition, will induce bodily hatred especially in

vulnerable and anxious teenagers.

3. An affirming approach in including social transitioning is likely to reinforce

delusional thinking in the children involved and in associated peer groups.

4. Affirmation of social transition and celebration of ‘trans’ is basically

celebrating a lie and is likely to cause confusion and anxiety amongst peers.

Such an approach is in effect, encouraging peers to collude in a fantasy; this

is unhelpful preparation for adult living.

5. Employing an affirmative approach to the concept of ‘trans’ is also

encouraging some adults/parents/carers to collude in a fantasy about their

own children or those they care for.

6. There has been a great deal of misinformation directed at parents which

includes using exaggerated claims that children will commit suicide if they are

not affirmed. This is totally incorrect information and is not borne out by robust

research, in fact suicide risk is no different to any other child/teenage mental

health issue.

7. The approach of affirming the concept of ‘trans’ risks other additional

support needs and mental health issues not being addressed (e.g. ASD,

trauma, care issues, physical/sexual abuse, homophobic bullying, anxiety)

Encouraging a child or teenager onto a pathway for which there is little

evidence in the first place will compound the difficulties that the child already

has. The 3rd sector organisations which are in our schools who are doing this

are not psychologists or clinicians and do not have the professional

competencies to assess these children.

8. To affirm a child who thinks they are ‘trans’ is completely avoiding any

understanding about why they think they are ‘trans’. It avoids exploring what

that child even understands about the term. Bell and other researchers have

noted that a high proportion of gender questioning children are gay and have

experienced homophobia. There is already evidence (Bell 2024, Barnes,

2023) that there is a real risk of misdirecting suggestible children down a

regressive, ‘transing pathway’ which they will come to regret.

9. Affirming a child as ‘trans’ takes advantage of the fact that a child is simply

not cognitively or emotionally mature enough to either understand or think

through the consequences of social transitioning or taking medical steps. As

Dr David Bell states, ‘Children struggle to even imagine themselves in an adult

sexual body.’

Dr David Bell states, ‘Characterizing a child as, “‘being transgender’ is harmful as it forecloses the situation and also implies that this is a unitary condition for which there is a unitary treatment. It is much more helpful to use a description: the child suffers

from distress in relation to gender/sexuality, and this needs to be explored in

terms of the narrative of their lives, the presence of other difficulties such as

autism, depression, histories of abuse and trauma, and confusion about sexuality.’

In short, it is more than fair to argue that affirming the concept of ‘trans’

amounts to potentially grooming the child towards a lifetime of delusion,

confusion, psychological & physical harm.


This is not about hostility to whatever is meant by the term ‘transgender’ (see

above regarding difficulties with definitions). But what is needed is safe,

evidenced-based interventions, psychological assessment and appropriate

care. It is not helpful to have leading, ideologically-led input in any of our

public services, especially our schools and child social services. This is

particularly the case where vulnerable children are concerned. Bell states,

‘What we have opposed is the precipitate placing of children on a potentially

damaging pathway for which there is considerable evidence of harm.’

There is much evidence that activist organizations have accessed much of our

public services. For example, there is clear evidence of LGBTYS’ input in

hundreds of our schools. They have presented children and adults with the

concept of ‘trans’ as an idealized alternative. This can be particularly attractive

to vulnerable children and indeed to all children, given that children are much

more cognitively suggestible than adults.


Biggs, M., 2022, Suicide by clinic-referred transgender adolescents in the UK.

Archives of Sexual Behavior, 51(2):655-690.

Barnes, H. (2023) Time to Think, Swift Press.

Baxendale, S.,2024, The Effect of Puberty Blockers on the Teenage Brain:

What Do We Know? International Perspectives on Evidence-Based Treatment

for Gender Dysphoric Youth.


Blakemore, S., 2018, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage

Brain, Transworld.

Email Twitter @wrnscotland

Brown, C., 2022, Gender ideology a hindrance if a pupil identifies as trans

November 17th

Brown, C.,2023/4

Buck, D.,2022, Transgenderism in schools, CIEO,

Care Inspectorate, 2023, Guidance for Children and Young People’s Services

on the Inclusion of Transgender Including Non-Binary Young People.

Griffin, L., Clyde K.,Byng R., Bewley S., 2021, Sex, gender and gender

identity: a re-evaluation of the evidence. British Journal of Psychiatry Bulletin.

45(5): 291-299.

Kaltalia, R. 2024, Statement at the CAN-SG conference, RCGP, London.

Cass Review, 2022, Independent review of gender identity services for

children and young people: Interim Report.

Cass Review 2024, Independent review of gender identity services for

children and young people: Final Report.

Cunningham, J., 2023, Transgender Ideology in Scottish Schools: What’s

wrong with government guidance? Scottish Union for Education.

Scottish Government. 2022, Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood


Scottish Government Guidelines, 2021 Supporting Transgender Pupils in


Carolyn Brown (Retired Depute Principal Educational Psychologist) 14th May 2024

Women’s Rights Network Scotland

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