No matter where it’s built, the parallel polis takes time and tenacity.Václav Benda
This week I set myself a writing challenge. It’s only fair given I’m constantly talking about the benefits of reflective writing and expression.
My assignment was to write about why I started Life Detransitions? The simple answer is- I felt I had to.
I did my psychotherapy training in the UK, thank god before the madness that has entered my profession had taken hold. I was inspired by the path that psychoanalytic psychotherapy had taken since the world wars and the depth of insight that those man-made human catastrophes had given us; we had looked into the abyss of the human mind and we had learned a thing or two. We had also made significant leaps forward in our understandings of human suffering, homosexuality and the importance of childhood attachment and despite the profession still having work to do around accessibility and inclusion for different social classes and minority groups, it was progressing forward. My studies were fruitful and challenging, I had found my calling.
By the time I had relocated from London to Berlin, sitting comfortably in my private practice, I began to watch something shift in my profession. I can only describe what I was seeing as some sort of collective psychotic state take hold. I watched as gender and woke ideology literally ate up, slowly then rapidly, the governing bodies, institutions and training centres with a ferocity that I am still struggling to understand.
One by one they started saying the mantras, the buzzwords, the pledges of allegiance that we are all familiar with. It was disturbing and frightening, not to mention antithetical to everything that I thought psychotherapy stood for-the free and ongoing inquiry to discover the truth. When I read Marcus Evan’s brilliant essay in Quillette, I nearly wept. Marcus was an extremely respected clinician at one of the best public clinics for mental health in the UK, The Tavistock. His resignation sent a chill down my spine. Could it be real that respected mental health practitioners with years of experience, people I could only look up to, were in a position where they had to resign because of the unethical and ideological takeover that was now endangering vulnerable young people by sending them down an irreversible path to gender transition?
And what about these young people? I could see myself and my own family’s experience in what they were going through. My oldest brother is autistic but was not diagnosed until he was in his 20’s. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, autism was not as widely understood. At that time, when my parents were desperate for guidance, the medical establishment only saw a highly disturbed anti-social child and so my parents burdened the stress, guilt and shame alone for years as they were made to feel that they were the ones responsible for his troubles.
He finally received a diagnoses from a private clinic in the US which was a huge relief but also the beginning of a very traumatic time in our lives. My parents now had to abandon their son to the “experts” who took over his care. They felt the rage, powerlessness and injustice at being up against the impenetrable wall of the medical/psychotherapeutic complex, which now claimed to know their own son better than they did. All they could do was blindly allow treatments to be administered; treatments they were told were in his best interest, treatments that included tranquilizers, solitary confinement, confession pledges, and endless family therapy sessions. It finally culminated in my brother’s psychological breakdown and a lawsuit that nearly destroyed my parents financially and psychologically.
Looking back now I can say my brother is in a good place. We now know the best treatment for him is to be simply left alone with as little external stress as possible and help from his assisted living community when he needs it. Anything else induces extreme panic (we now also know that he has a panic disorder alongside the autism.)
So yes I know something about how the hubris of experts can be disastrous and how the wrong treatments can sometimes make conditions catastrophically worse. I also know about the pain and destruction that families endure when they don’t know where to turn for help for someone they care for very deeply. My dad still clenches up when we talk about it to this very day and my brother has often asked me why his life was taken away from him.
And then there was Keira Bell. I watched her case and felt moved by the truth she spoke to the madness. “How was I allowed to do this?” She inspired more so-called “detransitioners”, the brave people now standing up to tell their own stories of how they were affirmed too quickly as transgender and sent through the medical complex. People wanted to know why none of the “experts” had sufficiently challenged, questioned or helped them. How had they let this happen? And rather than being celebrated for their heroism or for the psychotherapy profession to have a wake up call and take the opportunity to drastically reassess course, I witnessed how they doubled down and how the ones who had been in some cases irreparably damaged were ignored, scoffed and berated. I watched as they received huge amounts of abuse from trans rights activists, the media, the doctors and any one else who felt their ideology was being personally threatened by the truth of their experiences.
So what could I do? Like I said, I had to do something. I thought that if we can create something for questioners, desisters and detransitioners or anyone else that feels like they don’t fit in with the authoritarian, ideological and suffocating narratives in the gender and woke ideologies, and that if it helps them feel less stigmatized in what they are going through, even if we only reach one person, then we are doing a good thing. This is the resistance. This is my fuck you to all the practitioners who have failed the kids who have no where else to turn. And perhaps if I’m really honest, this is an attempt for me to somehow make right what happened to my own family all those years ago, because I’ve seen that no matter what we all go through in life, no matter how much hell we endure, the possibility of peace is possible.