Labelling alternative views about transgender children bigoted is “very dangerous”, according to the head of a parents’ group who has been handed an honour.
Stephanie Davies-Arai, the founder and director of Transgender Trend, which calls for evidence-based healthcare for gender dysphoric children and young people, has been given a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The organisation has raised concerns about diagnosing children as transgender and legislation over the safety of girls in changing rooms and toilets.
In 2018, in response to a resource pack for schools published by Transgender Trend, LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall said the organisation’s views were “dangerous” for young people and “factually inaccurate”.
I hope it indicates a change in opinion about the treatment of children with gender dysphoria and is a recognition of my work
Ms Davies-Arai said the language around gender in schools has confused children and “blurs the boundaries between different sexes”.
She said: “I’m really honoured and thrilled to be recognised for my work; it is a huge honour and I’m quite knocked out by it and very grateful to everyone who nominated me.
“I hope it indicates a change in opinion about the treatment of children with gender dysphoria and is a recognition of my work, which has been wrongly called transphobic or bigoted.
“What I saw was a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with these children, which risks sending them towards a medical pathway.
“One of my concerns was the alternative wasn’t talked about. Everyone should be open to debate; it’s healthy.
“Silencing debate by calling evidence-based approaches ‘bigoted or transphobic’ is very dangerous.
“We need to make sure we investigate what’s going on before medical intervention and stop treating young people the same way as adults. These children deserve the same standard of care as in any other paediatric service and I could see they were not getting that.”
Ms Davies-Arai also praised JK Rowling for speaking out in support of not just women and children but transgender people.
The Harry Potter author in June 2020 wrote an essay explaining how she was partly motivated to speak about transgender issues because of her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Critics have accused the writer of being transphobic, a label she strongly rejects.
Ms Davies-Arai said: “She’s been very measured in what she is saying but has been vilified – and publicly.
“It is a very dangerous environment for children if safeguarding attempts are silenced through accusations of bigotry.
“She spoke out in a very reasonable way.
“She showed great courage and shouldn’t have risked her reputation by discussing things openly and respectfully; we should be able to, especially when the matter concerns children.”