Putting a blanket ban on 'conversion therapy' stops young, vulnerable children being able to explore their own options says Darren Grimes

Criminalising therapy removes the options for trained professionals to help a young person.

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How have we got to a point in Britain in which politicians are bombarded with, not questions on the worst cost of living crisis the country has seen in generations, but questions like "can a woman have a penis?".

How can a politician be too terrified to answer a question like that, revealing them, not as sympathetic but utterly spineless? The public will quickly conclude that such politicians aren't fit to run a bath, never mind the country.

The lack of debate on the issues like biological men in women's changing rooms and in sport, due to the pretty horrific form of venom and vitriol that you're greeted by in speaking up for women's rights when it comes to the self-declaration of your gender, probably explains why we're in a pretty sticky mess when it comes to the outpouring of pearl-clutching horror and resistance, including from Conservative backbenchers, over the reports this week of a double U-turn on banning conversion therapy.

In seeking to appease its backbenchers, the Government said it would only ban gay conversion therapy, but wouldn't cover so-called conversion therapy to convert someone experiencing gender dysphoria.

When the abandonment of the proposed ban was leaked online, I welcomed it.

I was disappointed that Government U-turned on it, but at least for now transgender won't be included, because let's be honest folks, young people, under-18s who are having issues with their gender identity, their bodies, do not need to have the conversations that they have with parents, with therapists, with people in churches, they don't need the shadow of the law making people feel unable to have honest and frank conversations with them, if someone wants to help a young person to feel comfortable with their bodies they shouldn't face a risk of criminal sanctions for doing that.

My own experience as a young person informs my concern for today's young.

As a 15-year-old I'd endured years of homophobic bullying, I was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

I was desperate to know what was wrong with me, to find out why I was like this, how could I make this torment stop?

In the end, I concluded it was something I would have to find out for myself, I couldn't continue speaking to a professional and discharged myself.

I was able to find out organically that my sexuality is something as unchangeable as my eyes being blue. But I was offered, between the school nurse and the child mental health services, a range of options I could explore as an adolescent.

My fear is that in the blanket ban on 'conversion therapy' we stop young, vulnerable children from being able to explore their own options.

We prevent children from receiving access to a range of therapeutic options, by criminalising evidence-based therapy.

Were I, for example, to have said that as a 15-year-old, I wondered if I was experiencing gender dysphoria and this was the reason for my distress, under this ban, no professional could recommend I explore other options without potentially breaking this new ban in law.

I wouldn't have been experiencing gender dysphoria. Hormone treatments and puberty blockers wouldn't have helped me.

I was, I am, gay. That's it. I like blokes. It's as simple as that. But this is the reality we risk creating for the next generation of young people

There is a growing tranche of evidence that suggests that vulnerable kids, either autistic, gay or even who have parents that would prefer a trans outcome over a gay outcome studies show that considerable numbers of dysphoric children will come to identify as their biological sex.

Look no further than the Keira Bell case to see an example of the worrying trend of young people de-transitioning and wishing they hadn't received medical treatment.

Criminalising therapy removes the options for trained professionals to help a young person.

Ultimately, a blanket ban on so-called conversion therapy would be placing ideology and laudable sounding legislation ahead of the best route to care for some of our most vulnerable people.

Notably, there are already existing laws that criminalise physical and verbal acts of conversion therapy. We've seen a massive 4,000% rise in the number of children with gender dysphoria in the last 10 years. We simply cannot end up in a situation where we criminalise conversations with these vulnerable kids about these topics with doctors, therapists and even parents.