Monday, June 18, 2018

Email to the papers about false suicide statistics for transgender people

In response to an appeal from the Gender Critical Action Centre about the use of false suicide statistics in relation to transgenderism issues, I've emailed The Guardian and the Observer, with copies to other news outlets, using a suggested script. However, I added some of my personal thoughts about the lack of journalistic scrutiny of the issue. This was the first part...

Dear Editors of the Guardian and the Observer,

You have an ethical obligation to cover suicide in a way that does​n't cause harm. More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage. Yet The Guardian and The Observer have repeatedly transgressed these ethical journalistic standards when reporting on “transgender” suicide over the past few years.

Further, with sensational titles such as...
Nearly half of young transgender people have attempted suicide
Almost half of trans pupils in UK have attempted suicide, and
Too many of us young trans people are crying out for help. Will you listen?

... The Guardian and the Observer violate another tenet of the journalistic guidelines for suicide, which state that risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, use dramatic/graphic headlines or images, or sensationalises or glamorises a death by means of repeated/extensive coverage. If violating journalistic standards were not bad enough, the Guardian and the Observer. along with other media, are guilty of an even greater ethical transgression by reporting skewed statistics to sensationalise transgender suicide coverage. The 41% Trans suicide attempt rate is a tale of flawed data and lazy journalism. And yet these statistics are used to terrorise and blame “non-affirming” parents and teachers for “transgender”suicide.

These violations of journalistic integrity matter a ​lot. Though suicide is not a communicable disease, there is a strong body of evidence that it is still contagious. The evidence suggests that suicide outbreaks and clusters are real phenomena; one death can set off others. Parents are reporting cases of children declaring rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) along with a transgender status in clusters with their peers. It is also increasingly common for gender dysphoric adolescents and mental health professionals to claim that transition is necessary to prevent suicide. This is creating devastating results for families who often feel they have no choice but to set their children on a course of life long medical treatment.

I am very concerned about the misuse of data and the potentially catastrophic results from journalists not adhering to the journalistic standards of integrity when covering suicide and would like you to address this.

The rest of this email wasn't copied from the action centre, but are my thoughts, or some of them.

​I'm also very concerned about the amount of uncritical reporting of transgenderism, ​with little or no attempt being made to scrutinise the phenomenon or its origins, or the unquestioning acceptance of the claims of trans people by governments at all levels, or corporate bodies. Transgenderism is a mental disorder, not an innate characteristic like homosexuality, though the reasons for claiming to be transgender vary; there are more than one. It would be good to read or hear some good investigative journalism about a subject that most newspapers seem to avoid for fear, perhaps, of upsetting the small minority of transgender activists who can make a big fuss about any suggestion that they need help, but not necessarily the sort they want. For a substantial number of transgender people, Gender Dysphoria Disorder is a type of personality disorder similar to Body Dysphoria Disorder and Anorexia. The word "gender" is being consistently misused as synonymous with sex, but means something completely different. There is no credible scientific evidence for the claim that some people are "born in the wrong body" or have something wrong with their brain, and it is scientifically impossible to change your sex. How you express yourself, your femininity or masculinity, depends on your independence, or lack of the same (since one set of stereotypes is rejected in favour of another), your creativity, upbringing, culture, interests, etc. In other words, your personality. Young children whose behaviour is non-conformist (quiet gentle boys or boisterous active girls) are being too easily labelled transgender, when they're simply being themselves. There are no transgender children and no reasons to inflict any "treatment" on them, such as puberty blockers and hormones. They're fine as they are.

I'm 74, but if transgenderism had been a thing when I was young my parents might have been advised to have me sent to a gender clinic, if there'd been such things, as my appearance was androgynous and my interests and activities were unladylike. By the '60s, as an art student, it was more or less compulsory to be unconventional.

With the current consultation about a proposed amendment to the Gender Recognition Act in mind, there isn't a better time to scrutinise the claims being made about transgenderism and the potential consequences of making self-ID legal in the UK.  ​

Sincerely, Margaret Nelson
(Supporter 495018)

Before I was fully aware of the transgender issue, I wrote about the suicide of Leela Alcorn, a transgender teenager in the US, who committed suicide by walking into traffic. At that time I was more concerned about the unfortunate person who killed her when she walked in front of his tractor. Leela was a male to female trans person. Men tend to choose more violent ways to kill themselves that women do. I've conducted funerals for men who've hung themselves, leaving their loved ones to discover them; an image that will stay with them forever.

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