You Had Better Make Some Noise – Abusers will exploit bad laws and poor safeguarding

This is a post by Sarah Phillimore

I was delighted to be asked to speak on July 27th 2019 by Make More Noise

As the organisers say:

There has been a surge of Feminist activism across the UK in the past year. Women are agitated and organised. We are finding our voice and our voice is saying NO.

Make More Noise are one such group, created to provide a space for women to talk freely and address uncomfortable truths.

 

Why am I interested in this?

I am a woman. I am a disabled woman. The delusion of self ID as a cure for unhappiness is shown to me, and every other disabled person in the world, every single day. We cannot identify out of ourselves. Every day the people around us and the hostile environments we have to navigate tell us what our reality is. To claim another’s identify is a choice for the privileged – a black woman cannot self Identify as white but Rachel Dolezal can claim to be a black woman and take a Nigerian name.

But I am also a lawyer. Who has worked in child protection for 20 years. I have been campaigning since 2014 for greater openness and honesty in our debate about the family justice system.

So it would seem that my experiences both personal and professional have led me to this moment. There is so much to worry about when we face the erasure of biological sex as a category of identification that I have decided to focus my concerns on the implications for children.

 

My central hypothesis this: people would rather cause pain than feel it.

We have a lack of mature discussion in our society about issues of grave importance to us all. I am quite sure that social media is partly behind this.  I see the law being increasingly used as a weapon to silence people who step out of line, the rights of a few achieving dominance over the rights of many others. I see the efforts of some groups and individuals to push back against this – such as Fair Cop and Maya Forstater – but the fact that such groups have felt compelled to take action is an indication of what a strange place our public discourse has reached. People are sacked for expressing ‘wrong think’, the police are used to enforce one person’s feelings against another person’s Article 10 rights to freedom of expression.

And who suffers most in such a scenario where a legal system is used to prioritise the rights of one minority above others? Those at the very bottom of any pyramid power structure – children.

So what supports my hypothesis?

  • High court decisions only 3 years apart about transitioning pre schoolers
  • The NSPCC debacle and the intervention of Prostasia

The shifting position of the High Court

The case of Re J in 2016 involved a 4 year old, who his mother claimed ‘disdained his penis’ and wished to be a girl. The High Court did not agree and ordered that the child lived with his father. Mermaids supported the mother and issued an angry press release after the judgment saying they would appeal – they did not.  I wrote about this case here which contains links to the judgment and press release.

However, only three years later came the case of Lancashire County Council v TP & Ors (Permission to Withdraw Care Proceedings) [2019] EWFC 30. This involved foster carers who had two unrelated children in their care who decided they wanted to transition – the youngest aged 3 years old. [EDIT apologies – youngest was transitioned at FOUR YEARS OLD. Doesn’t make any difference to my argument] The LA were applying to withdraw care proceedings, so it was a different situation from re J. But even so, its interesting to see how the Judge framed this issue of transitioning pre schoolers:

Notwithstanding even the Guardian’s caution in respect of the openness of [the foster carers] to the possibility of an alteration in the children’s attitude to their gender identity I conclude that Dr Pasterski’s evidence demonstrates that it is obvious that neither of these grounds would meet threshold. Taken together with the panoramic evidence of the child focused approach of [the foster carers] it is overwhelmingly obvious that neither H nor R have suffered or are at risk of suffering significant emotional harm arising from their complete social transition into females occurring at a very young age. The evidence demonstrates to the contrary, this was likely to minimise any harm or risk of harm. The evidence does not support the contention that it was actively encouraged rather than appropriately supported.

How on earth is it ‘overwhelmingly obvious’ that a 3 year old will experience no harm from a decision to transition from male to female? I have a difficulty here with such an uncritical acceptance of the evidence of Dr Pasterski. Not merely because I find it extremely hard to accept that any 3 year old has the understanding or the language to communicate a desire to change sex, but I note the approach of Dr Paterski in an earlier case.

Jay v Secretary of State for Justice [2018] EWHC 2620 (Fam) (08 October 2018) considered a man in his 40s who wished to become a woman. While Dr Paterski opined without any reservation that this was a genuine case of gender dysphoria, Dr Barrett struck a more cautious note, given that some of Ms Jay’s reported history was ‘directly at odds’ with documentary records.

“… If collateral corroboration is not convincingly elicited I would have grave doubts and wonder whether [Ms Jay]’s somewhat dependent personality had caused her to unwisely latch onto a change of gender role as a seemingly universal solution to both why her life had gone wrong and how it might be rectified.”

It is worth contemplating, with considerable unease, just what would happen if Re J was being heard and decided this week. Would the High Court have been able to protect a little boy from the mother who was telling everyone he ‘disdained’ his penis? Or would he have been sacrificed to what appears to be compulsive drive to be seen as ‘woke’ and ‘inclusive’ ?

The NSPCC debacle and the intervention of Prostasia

All of you I am sure are familiar with the NSPCC’s public response to people who raised concerns about one of their employees who allegedly filmed himself masturbating at work and published a video online. I am pleased that, belatedly, they had the sense to realise that telling people who raised concerns that they were bigots who should be reported was not an appropriate response and they have referred themselves to the Charity Commission. I await with interest the outcome of that.

What happened to me on Twitter after that was also interesting.

I was discussing that people should consider not making further charitable donations to the NSPCC but consider smaller local charities. An organisation called Prostasia popped up and suggested they might be a worthwhile beneficiary. Which was odd as a quick google showed them to be based in California and advocating ‘sex positive’ child protection, whatever that means.

What I suspect it means is support for men who want to have sex with children. This suspicion was confirmed when another Twitter user found a copy of a mug shot of a man who was active in the conversation and on the Prostasia website. This stated he had been arrested in 2012 for sexual conduct with a child under 13. Prostasia then blocked us all and then tried to blackmail me, which is a whole other story I don’t have time for now – but is a clear indication of the murky ethical waters in which this organisation swims.

 

What does this show me?

The inability or unwillingness of both pro-trans activists and pro-paedophile groups to distinguish teenagers from pre-schoolers.

Because what Prostasia has in common with the views of the legal adviser for Mermaids is a persistent refusal to identify what they mean by ‘a child’.

  • A child is defined as a person aged 0-18.
  • The majority of children under 12 are unlikely to be considered ‘Gillick competent’ to make important decisions about their own lives.
  • We have a difficult and grey area around 13-16 where children may well as individuals have greater capacity than the law allows them. But we have to draw a line somewhere.
  • And for children, sex and the criminal law, that line is firmly set at 13 years.  See the Sexual Offences Act 2003. A child under 13 cannot consent to sex. It is rape.

I therefore consider myself on firm ground to say that the vast majority of children under 12 neither want nor need exposure to adult sexuality. It is important that they are allowed the time and space to develop their own identities and their own sexual preferences; free of the coercion or manipulation of an adult. And once they cross that threshold into adulthood they should be free to live and love as they wish, according to the boundaries of the existing laws. Sexual activities between consenting adults is none of my business or concern.

What I have witnessed developing over the last year or so has caused me increasing concern about the extent to which some men wish to re-frame the discussion about the sexuality of children. They wish to push back the boundaries regarding age and consent. This seems clear to me because of the extent to which they are often coy about stating exactly how they define ‘a child’. The difference between – for example –  a typical 9 year old and a typical 16 year old is vast and in every domain; physical, sexual, social.

And what is the problem with this?

I was alerted to a blog post in March of this year by the Mermaids legal adviser. The author remained anonymous but was arguing that

….someone’s gender identity, at any age, must be respected. A child identifying as trans, whether it has been submitted this is as a result of harm or not, is identifying as trans and that must be respected throughout proceedings…More often than not, if a child says they are trans, they will be trans.

I commented at the time

As I hope I have made clear, any such assertion made without attempting even the barest of analysis of the vast gulf in understanding and capacity between a 6 year old and a 16 year old is an assertion of no value. Worse than that, it is an assertion which attempts to pave the way to leave young children entirely unprotected from their parents.

Most parents love their children and want to do what is in their best interests. A small minority of parents fail to do that. The courts absolutely must be ready, willing and able to step in and to protect such children.

Anyone who is unwilling or unable to see the difference between a child of 6 and a child of 16 is someone who wishes to blur the boundaries around child protection and safeguarding. Why would anyone wish to do this? I can only assume it is to make it easier to secure the eradication of the rights of children to be protected from the imposition of men’s sexual will.  And what is worse, their rights will be eradicated at the same time we are told WE are the villans, WE are the bigots.

The facts are always friendly. That was and will remain my rallying cry. Lets have proper discussion . Not all who wish to transition do so out of realistaion of their ‘essential self’ – a self that no one apparently can define. Some will do so because they are predators. Predators predate. That is what they do. For example, the recent trial of convicted paedophile Carl Beech revealed that he had volunteered at the NSPCC between 2012 and 2015 .

The wolf is no longer at the door. The wolf Is in the kitchen and claiming a legal right to be there.  And I am now too old and too fed up to do anything other than speak up. This will not be done in my name.

 

FURTHER READING

In whose best interests? Transgender Children: Choices and Consequences.

When should a child’s trans identity be permitted to be a material issue in a family case?

Video of talk now on YouTube

13 thoughts on “You Had Better Make Some Noise – Abusers will exploit bad laws and poor safeguarding

  1. Angelo Granda

    Most parents love their children and want to do what is in their best interests. It is rare for parents not to.Exceedingly rare , and those who do are subject to the law. I repeat,it is only a tiny minority who fail their children ;the proof is in the statistics .Out of roughly 25 million families in the U.K. ( my estimate),only a miniscule percentage of the parents are found guilty on ‘real’ evidence in a ‘real’ open criminal (or special Family Court) of child abuse. Very few are convicted and any parents found culpable on ‘real’ evidence in the special Family Court should ,of necessity, be fully investigated by the criminal authorities and charged.

    QUOTE: Predators predate.That is what they do :UNQUOTE.

    The truth is that the majority of predators are not family members. Most of them are strangers and many of them are in positions of power. We know power corrupts but we also know that many predators are drawn to employment either as salaried professionals or as volunteers in the ‘child-rescue’ industry ( the c.p. debacle).
    Parents rights and children’s rights are eradicated ( unlawfully) by these awful people but at the same time ,what is worse, they continually hawk the myth that ( statistically) parents are the villains. That we are the predators! All this behind closed doors in an environment where their own criminal behaviour , child-abuse and traumatisation is covered up. They are more likely to be promoted for their criminality than prosecuted.They are the only ones that gain. Child-exploitation of all kinds prevails and it happens in secret.
    The courts absolutely must be ready, willing and able to step in and protect children from inhumanity and degradation at the hands of these predators.

    I am no expert,just an ordinary parent and I thank Sarah for her post and the chance to comment. I agree with her about age-limits for transition. I suggest 16 years as the age-of-consent for transition . Although i am no expert on transgender issues,i see it as a medical problem( rightly or wrongly) and the normal limits should be applied. Whether parents should drive gender transition forward for their own children is a matter for them and any decision would have to be supervised by a Doctor as with contraception and abortion. Child -rescue social workers to stay out of it. Disputes between Doctors and parents to be taken to a medical tribunal.
    As usual, however, i am quite willing to listen to other reader’s views and discussion.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: In whose best interests? Transgender Children: Choices and Consequences | Child Protection Resource

  3. Mark C

    I found this post muddled and confusing, and the way you include fringe groups/figures like Prostasia and Yaniv next to the NSPCC and UK court judgements on trans issues seems like a deliberate attempt to muddy the water, or recreate the age old dog whistle that LGBT adults are intrinsically a threat to children.

    If this was not your intention then I apologise but that is still my reading of it, having read many similar anti-LGBT dogwhistles in the past.

    You say “I therefore consider myself on firm ground to say that the vast majority of children under 12 neither want nor need exposure to adult sexuality. It is important that they are allowed the time and space to develop their own identities and their own sexual preferences”

    which is perfectly reasonable, but completely denies the reality of our heteronormative society. If you are so interested in facts, then the facts are that LGBT youth are much more likely than their straight cohorts to self harm, contemplate or attempt suicide, experience depression, become homeless and feel they have no one to talk to about their problems. Mentioning a legal case from 3 years does not mean that is the experience for most LGBT young people, who if anything are pressured to be heterosexual and cisgender.

    (As a trivial example, my son (who is nearly three and says hello to everyone and anyone) is often praised as a lady’s man or having an eye for the ladies if he greets a woman, but no one ever says the converse when he greets a man.)

    Adults seeking to help LGBT youth are not always predators and potential abusers (though of course there will be some) but genuinely wish to help as they remember their own miserable childhoods and the way that all the adults in their life failed them in certain respects (either through ignorance, denial or hostility).

    I was surprised that you included a tweet by Ian Miles Cheong in your post. Cheong is well known (in certain sections of the internet) as a Gamergate enthusiast (ie the campaign to harrass and dox female journalists and games developers) and pal of alt right/neo-nazi/white supremicicst types like Vox Day , Milo Yianoppoulos and Lauren Southern. Is that really the kjind of person you want to be associated with? It took me two seconds of googling to see that Yaniv’s swimming event application was turned down. I can see why the likes of Cheong (who hates Jews and trans people) would not want to mention this but I’m suprised you didn’t bother.

    Meanwhile, in the UK two toddlers were murdered in Northamptonshire by their mother’s partners and a woman was recently convicted of murdering her two infant daughters because they interfered with her dating life. I think we can all agree that murdering a child is more serious than not organising a topless swimming gala and yet I don’t see you calling for children to be protected from heterosexuals, because of course it would be grossly unfair to tar a whole group of people with the actions of a few individuals.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      you may of course have whatever opinion you wish about my thought processes and my writing. Just as you must then be prepared to accept my opinion of yours. When I see this kind of sentence If this was not your intention then I apologise but that is still my reading of it, having read many similar anti-LGBT dogwhistles in the past. then I understand what I am dealing with, and I am afraid I give your opinion very little weight.

      Also this: Is that really the kjind of person you want to be associated with? I will associate with whom I wish. That is my lawful and protected right. I will take the consequences of my associations. I care little for the disapproval of those who will damn me by association at the same time as they display their own tired and knee jerk bigotry.

      I think we can all agree that murdering a child is more serious than not organising a topless swimming gala and yet I don’t see you calling for children to be protected from heterosexuals My entire professional life is dedicated to the protection of children from those predatory adults who wish to hurt them. I do not care if those adults are gay, straight, transgender or whatever. My speech was to highlight a new risk to children; the creeping push back of boundaries around their age as a mechanism to protect them.

      I can protest one particular evil without it being assumed that I condone all others.

      Your own thinking seems muddled to me. Perhaps have another go to cast your criticism in a more cohesive and authentic way and you may yet succeed in dissuading me from continuing down a path you find distasteful.

      Reply
  4. Mark C

    In what way do you “understand what you are dealing with”? I have been campaigning for and debating re LGBT rights at least since the repeal of Section 28. I have seen and read every anti-LGBT argument and non-sargument under the sun. I didn’t say you were anti-LGBT. I said your post contained many of the elements of an anti-LGBT post (and of course would be understood as such both by anti-LGBT people and LGBT people)

    It is easy to unintentionally fall into the use of discriminatory language if you aren’t very familiar with the subject, as plenty of politicians etc discussing Israel and sliding into the use of anti-semitic language have discovered.

    Why on earth do you think me pointing out Ian Cheong’s unsavoury reputation means I am attemping to interfere with your “lawful and protected right” of free association? You *literally* just wrote a post warning of a number of people’ dubious reputations. Were you trying to ban people from having anything to do with them or was it a well intentioned warning based on your own in-depth experience?

    What exactly did I write that displayed “tired and knee jerk bigotry”?

    Of course you can “protest one particular evil without it being assumed that I condone all others”. That wasn’t my point. My point was that it was wrong to tar entire groups of people with the actions of a few individuals.

    And I still think that the overwhelming risk for children is to be forced to conform to straight/cis identities rather than the other way round. In addition, children under 12 are subject to homophobia and transphobia (recently read of a nine yr old boy who committed suisicide after being bullied because his perers thought he was gay, and of another young boy who died at his parents hands because they thought he was gay) and therefore should be able to access support from adults to deal with it, even if they aren’t gillick competent and might grow up to be straight or gay or whatever.

    My speech was to highlight a new risk to children; the creeping push back of boundaries around their age as a mechanism to protect them

    obviously I haven’t heard your speech (I would read it if you put it on here) but this post illustrates this risk entirely with reference to LGBT people. As I’m sure you are aware there is a current moral panic taking place in this country re transgender people and the teaching of age appropriate LGBT information to children. You are feeding into this, whether you intend or not, and thus contributing to the toxic atmosphere already experienced by young LGBT people, young people assumed to be LGBT by others, and children with LGBT parents.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Read back again what you wrote and the language you used. You aren’t interested in discussion; your tone was insulting from the start.

      Why do you say you haven’t read my speech? The post is my speech. I was clear then, I am clear now. If people want to start a debate with me on the basis that I am a bigot and feeding a moral panic, that is their business. I won’t engage.

      Reply
  5. Angelo Granda

    Mark C, As i have already written, i am no expert on gender transition and ,of course, most parents aren’t.
    However,reading your comments and Sarah’s leaves me even more confused. Am i correct to say that gender transition relates to medical interventions in the form of surgery? Or am i mistaken?

    If it does, then i think the c.p. professionals should stay out of it and leave decisions to parents and Doctors who will decide for themselves the right age for surgical treatments . I have suggested 16 years of age . Having said that i do know that Doctors can prescribe contraception to children ( with safeguards) to children at thirteen or fourteen years without the parent’s consent.I am uncertain what the age is for abortion but i imagine when a child becomes pregnant at twelve or thirteen, parents and doctors would have to decide together. The L.A.’s would not be consulted nor should they interfere.

    As regards LGBT . I am assuming this means lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender people and their human rights. Is this causing confusion? The issues are different. As far as i know, citizens have the right to do as they like and there are no longer any laws which discriminate against them. I do believe they have a right to choose and ‘come out’ at any age without interference from any L.A. or anyone else. Indeed transgender people can dress up in whichever clothes they wish to ( transvestism). Men can act like women and vice-versa. This has been the case almost for as long as i can remember. These people now have fundamental human rights.

    I would say that if in the past, a Mum, for example,dressed a boy in girls clothes or vice-versa , she has been free to do so. However, when the child started school, rules would have been laid down and it would have been impressed upon her by the teachers and health advisers that their child will be expected to dress according to their actual gender . Can you imagine how embarrassing it might be for a boy to be sent to school in girl’s clothes and with a girl’s name? Yet, we must also consider gay children who feel shamed or forced into a heterosexual way of life. Should Mum not agree then she would have to make other arrangements. Perhaps the LGBT community should set up its own schools. They have a fundamental right to do so.
    For ordinary schools to lay down dress rules is not fundamentally discriminatory, is it?

    I really think we have to discuss these issues and come to more reasoned agreements. Radical solutions are sometimes called for and separate schools or classrooms are not unrealistic.
    As i wrote on another thread , with the breakdown of the Christian way of life, these problems caused by sexual orientation are going to increase and become less rare. Thus we should engineer solutions in preparation.
    We have to work together not criticise one another.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      No reply from Mark C which is a little disappointing so I shall add to the discussion myself.
      1.Sarah seems to be saying that parents should not try to force issues of sexual orientation and transgender etc. and influence children into making choices until they are Gillick competent ( around 13-15 yrs). She thinks children are not capable of making such judgments themselves until then but not only that she is concerned that some of those parents and groups who hold an opposing doctrine may have their own hidden motives.
      2. Mark C. seems to be one of those parents who holds the opposing doctrine. He thinks children are capable of considering such issues at an earlier age and feels parents should be free to influence their thoughts and choices as they see fit.
      3. Any parent or set of parents are quite at liberty to set up interest groups or join them or take advice from them as they see fit without interference.
      4. Lesbian,Gay ,Bisexual and Transgender individuals break no Law that i know of. The Law grants them the freedom to exist and put their way of life into practice. It can be said their way of life is a new religion or ‘ism’ in the same way that some say ‘consumerism’ is the new religion.
      5. Any other religion or belief system is permitted to spread its own doctrine amongst its own community from birth. We have a law that forbids ‘persecution ‘ and the degradation of people and communities on the grounds of religion and diverse doctrines.
      6.Much as we ‘normal’ people may prefer our Christian ways, we have to accept that the LGBT community do not. Alas,Sarah is not wrong when she says that predators predate and it cannot be said it is not true that many predators come from within the LGBT community. They don’t attach themselves to it; they come from within it and they must not deny this , they should address the problem themselves and work on it. Otherwise , ordinary folk will tend to worry about them and tend to point fingers ,persecute etc. just as they do with other criminals.
      7. There is nothing whatever wrong with lesbian ,gay ,bisexual or transgender individuals. Why should they not love one another for what they are and spread their doctrine? People are different and we have to accept that hormonal problems arise. Even the bible says we should all love one another,doesn’t it?
      8. I hardly dare say this and i expect an outcry ( or silence) but the problem is caused by these people practicing congenital sex which is objectively wrong . The true and proper object of congenital sex is for a man and woman to reproduce .For any other purpose, it tends to produce lust and the need for more and more of it.Hence , there is a possibility some of them will present a risk to the community as a whole.
      9. However,if there is no LAW against it ,what can we do? Can we look upon LGBT as a new ‘religion’ perhaps? There are Jewish schools,Catholic schools, Cof E schools and i think Sikhs,Mohammedans,Hindus and the others have a right to set up their own. The same right should be given to all the new religions or there can only be chaos.We have to find ways to live together .That means we have to build some sort of new Jerusalem !
      10. We have to accept also that some religions are beyond the pale and objectively wrong in principle. These should without a doubt be banned by Criminal Law and these will,of course ,include religions which practice ritual murder,cannibalism,witchcraft,voodoo,pagan sacrifice, mental and physical torture, racial and religious discrimination, ‘othering’, rape including of children, polygamy ,orgy and so on.
      Such practices are fundamentally inhuman and totally unacceptable even in darkest Africa.
      11. Finally, Laws have to be set by Parliament democratically .

      All comments welcome.

      Reply
  6. Angelo Granda

    Sarah. This is off topic but i did notice that, in one of his comments,Mark C has changed font. You have too.
    Whenever i try to use italics and so on for emphasis, i am unable to do so.
    Please enlighten and educate me if you can.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I don’t know how Mark did it – I can do it as i am the administrator so I have a menu of options at the top of each comment box.
      I assume that isn’t available to you?

      Reply
  7. Angelo Granda

    Further discussion for anyone remotely interested in the opinions of others.

    http://www.transparencyproject.org.uk/transgender-man-cannot-be-registered-as-childs-mother/

    This was an interesting judgment and I go along with it.

    The words male and female are adjectives. Some men are feminine wish to be described as female and some women are masculine wanting to be described as male.
    However the words man and WOman are nouns. Both are man. However, there is a difference of course. One has a WOmb one doesn’t. Only a woman can be a mother .
    Thus if a woman wants to be male , if he/she has had a child,she remains the mother .No way can he/she becomes a father.
    A male woman cannot be a father nor a female man a mother.

    If any one can’t get their head around that,read it a couple of times.

    Of course the rule applies generally not only in respect of the register of births and deaths.Only a man and a woman together can become one and produce a child .This is why they are different PHYSICALLY.
    Whilst it is perfectly acceptable for men to partner other men and women to live with other women and whilst it is fine for them to love one another,sleep together and kiss etc. it is objectively wrong for them to practice congenital sex. Historically,such practices have brought down whole empires.

    Anyone who disagrees with the last paragraph please give your own view. I am always willing to change my own.

    Reply
  8. Angelo Granda

    May i add, whilst some may believe like i do that some things are objectively wrong, it does not mean they are against the law and i realise that.

    Reply

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