The proposed NSPCC debate on transgender children has been cancelled, after it was heavily criticised for inviting an alleged anti-trans figure to take part.
If you missed the original proposal, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children announced earlier on this week that they would be holding a Dare to Debate session with the title ‘Is society letting transgender children down?’.
This sounds good at first, but the problems began with the invited guests. We had former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, who came out as trans last year aged 61, but we also had a troublesome guest – Sarah Ditum, a feminist writer who critics say has a history of anti-trans comments.
A petition was created to drop Ditum from the event, calling her a person “who actively campaigns against supporting trans children with anything but conversion therapy”. Ditum has denied the claims of her being an anti-trans campaigner, and said that she aims to assess the “conflicted state of scientific evidence for gender identity”. Whatever that means.
Ditum does have a troublesome past, though, as she previously said the reporting on the high rates of transgender suicide as “bullshit”, and suggested that these suicides are due to society “telling people they can become meaningful by killing themselves”.
She also demonstrated a lack of understanding, tact, and displayed transphobia with such comments as: “Some women would like to have spaces without dick, same as a gunshot victim should have rifle-free spaces.”
At first, the NSPCC defended the debate, citing their good intentions, but after it became clear that the debate would be heavily criticised and even shunned by the transgender community, they have confirmed it’s cancellation.
They said in a statement:“Our Dare to Debate seminars are designed to provoke debate about serious issues facing children today – child protection issues that might not otherwise get the focus that they deserve. The next debate in the series was intended to shine a light on the difficulties and problems that trans children face in the UK, to ask whether society is doing enough to help them and discuss what more can and should be done.”
“Children and young people are increasingly raising concerns about trans issues and gender dysphoria. Many trans children have felt that they aren’t getting the support that they need and we wanted to explore how these young people could be more supported within our communities.”
“However, the trans community have raised concerns and told us that they don’t support the NSPCC hosting this discussion. We have listened, and following the withdrawal of a keynote speaker, we are no longer hosting this event.”
I would just like to address the NSPCC here: I think that such a debate could be a good idea, and could address the lack of support for trans people of all ages, but the issue was with the debatees. If, perhaps, you were to try this again with a bit more thought into who was invited, the LGBT community would probably welcome the discussion.