Minister for Women slammed after urging ‘caution’ over transgender youth

The Conservative Minister for Women Victoria Atkins has been criticised after urging more “caution” before treating young transgender people.

Atkins is a minister within the Government Equalities Office, which is currently reviewing the Gender Recognition Act and is responsible for legislating on transgender issues.

But in an interview with The Telegraph, the minister expressed concern with a spike in the numbers of young people who are now identifying as transgender.

Victoria Atkins at Conservative Party conference (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

She said: “I read in the paper recently that there has been a large increase in the number of teenagers who are identifying as [trans], and I think we need to get down to the reasons why this is happening.

“It may simply be a case of greater awareness, it may be that for some they see it as an answer to questions they are perhaps not asking themselves. We need to be particularly alert to this with regard to young people.

“The treatments are so serious and life-changing. I’m a little cautious of the use of those treatments because of the potential for the rest of their lives.

“Lots of questions are rightly being asked about how we treat young people. People whose bodies perhaps haven’t developed yet.”

Atkins claimed that young people needed more support in the “difficult journey” through puberty and shouldn’t “rush into” decisions.

Victoria Atkins

Elsewhere in the interview she said that “a proper grown-up conversation” is needed about changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

After a sustained, months-long campaign against the reform by anti-transgender radical feminist groups, Atkins admitted: “[The] debate has, in some quarters, fallen into extraordinary levels of abuse and aggression.

“Tempers have got to cool on the far end of each side of the debate.”

Her comments about transgender youth have been slammed by LGBT+ campaigners, who pointed out that far from “rushing into” medical interventions, young trans people often face a years-long wait for any treatment whatsoever.

Fox Fisher of All About Trans said in a statement to The Guardian: “The women’s minister’s concerns need to be put into perspective and she needs to look into the actual reality of treatment given to trans people, and she needs to consult with trans organisations and people that work on the ground.
“It is damaging to imply that trans teens are being given treatment lightly, as behind it are decades of research and best practice. Trans people’s lives are at stake here, and we know what we need.”

Victoria Atkins

Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt previously told PinkNews: “We’re listening to everyone. The starting point for [the GRA consultation] is that trans people need to be supported and we need to ensure the processes that are there when they’re going through a transition are there to support them and not add to their stresses.

“Trans women are women, that is the starting point for this consultation.

“Of course we listen to all groups, and women’s groups in particular.

“What we need is a very pragmatic approach to this where everyone is respected, where there is empathy for everyone’s position.

“We will get the best results from this consultation if it is done in that environment with people being sensible, people looking at the facts and not making things up, and ensuring people are respected.”