Boris Johnson speaks on trans conversion therapy ban

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The UK Government has pledged to ban conversion therapy for gay people but not transgender people. In an interview with Daily Mail, Johnson lays out his ‘thinking’

Over 100 LGBTQIA+ organisations have pulled out of the UK Government’s Safe To Be Me Conference scheduled to happent his year. Sponsors and partners followed suit and subsequently the UK Government have cancelled the event entirely. This as a result of Boris Johnson’s Governments disastrous u-turn.

Speaking to a Daily Mail report in Welwyn Garden City, Johnson said he was sad about the decision made by the LGBTQIA+ sector to boycott Government. He asserts his allyship, noting his involvement in passing the gay marriage bill and being enthused about flying pride flags over government buildings even in countries that don’t share ‘our values’. He did not comment on his infamously homophobic statements, such as “tank-topped bumboys”.

Laying out his thinking for why the conversion therapy ban will only include gay people Johnson states the issue is very complex but it was also something Johnson “never thought he would have to consider in such great detail.”

His first reason is that he doesn’t believe “it is reasonable to deem a child gillick competent with regards to their gender identity”[paraphrased]. Gillick competency is the name of a standard within medical law that allows under 16s to make medical decisions for themselves if they prove they are able to give informed consent.

This standard was challenged by the Keira Bell case which she originally won, before the decision was overturned reinstating gillick for transgender youth. Irrespective of Boris Johnson’s beliefs on the subject, the law has made very clear that the standard holds for transgender youth.

Second Johnson states he doesn’t believe that transgender women should be able to compete in women’s sports. Though it is not made clear what bearing this would have on a conversion therapy ban, not least since Baroness Berridge has already made it clear to Government via the House of Lords that there is no Government involvement in such decisions. Sports have their own governing bodies who make their own decisions as to who can compete where.

Third Johnson states that he believes “women should have spaces which are dedicated to women”; which I assume can be translated as “trans women should be excluded from spaces at the behest of transphobic cis women”. Again, this has no bearing on conversion therapy for transgender people and banning it.

Johnson finishes “that’s as far as my thinking goes on this issue”, a line of thinking which doesn’t seem to have gone much further than the transphobic trending tag of the day. “If that puts me in conflict with some others then we have got to work it all out”

There doesn’t appear to be a good reason for enforcing and allowing anti-trans conversion efforts to continue in the UK. It appears to be nothing but a cruelty for the sake of the cruelty itself.

LGBTQIA+ orgs have drawn their line in the sand which includes a full conversion therapy ban. If Boris Johnson wants to “work it all out” he’s going to have to meet them at it.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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