Feedback to the Cass Review Submitted by the OFN
The OFN responds to the Cass Report: Independent review of gender identity services for children and young people

The Older Feminist Network (OFN) welcomes the final report of NHS commissioned Review of gender identity services for children and young people led by Dr Hilary Cass (the Report) and the recommendations on how to improve NHS ‘Gender Identity Services’.   We are also pleased to note the planned implementation of the Report in full by the NHS.  We are saddened, though not shocked,  by the disinformation subsequent to publication of the detailed Report as well as the unfounded and unwarranted personal attacks.  We were also pleased to note the Report has demonstrated careful consideration of the opinions and experiences of all participants as well as detailed scrutiny of the available research into both puberty blockers and hormone treatments.  

The OFN is a well-established UK organisation the members of which have lifetimes of experience to contribute to the promotion of a feminist perspective on issues which directly or indirectly affect older women.  We are a small collective of mainly retired older women volunteers without full-time paid workers or researchers. We reach our members and the wider public through newsletter, website, blogs, face to face and zoom meetings, meeting twice a month.  The majority of OFN members are over 50.  Whilst we recognise the focus of the Report is solely on children and young people, as mothers, aunts, sisters, and grandmothers we too have been exposed to the toxicity of the debate to which Dr Cass refers.  In particular we have witnessed older feminists silenced in their workplaces, including Universities and hospitals.  It is notable that mainly older women were targeted for disciplinary action and even dismissal for opposing the use of puberty blockers in children as well as for holding the (entirely lawful) belief that a person cannot change their biological sex.  

We note the Report found a dramatic increase in adolescent females referred to GIDS since 2009 (from 15 to over 3000) and that these girls were identified as often having ‘complex additional problems’.  We agree that though it is unlikely to be linked to one single factor, societal pressures and expectations, social media and early exposure to pornography need needs to be examined.  We also believe girls brought up in a mysogynistic society where violence against women and girls occurs can be directly related with strands of misogyny, namely prostitution, ‘sex entertainment’ and pornography.  It is therefore unsurprising that many girls have body image concerns.  We are also sorry to note the instances of homophobia witnessed and the levels to which this continues in our society. 

We are sorry that this fine piece of work has resulted in attempts to bully Dr Cass, including vile and abusive messages. These actions support our view that, what the Report refers to as a ‘Public Debate’ was not an evidence-based conversation.  We, like Dr Cass, hope a wider holistic approach is taken by the NHS with the key result as achieving the best result for all children, including an adherence to scientific and evidence based treatment and the prevention of irreversible harm.  We recognise the report cannot offer a quick fix to the issue but we hope this is the beginning of ethical considerations on how to help not harm children and young people.  We also support the view of Dr Cass that any action trying to undermine evidence in children’s healthcare is unforgivable.



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