Dare to Debate seminar on trans kids cancelled after pressure from trans activists

NSPCC trans kids debate

A seminar scheduled for October 25 called, “Is society letting transgender children down?” has been cancelled after complaints from trans activists. The Dare to Debate session had been set to feature feminist writer, Sarah Ditum, and Kellie Maloney, a boxing promoter formerly known as Frank who transitioned in 2014. On her website, Ditum writes:

“Maloney’s past includes the expression of homophobic sentiments (now repudiated), and a 2005 attack on Tracey Maloney when the two were married (Maloney has attributed this in part to the strain of living with a suppressed gender identity).”

According to a statement on the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) website, “Dare to Debate seminars are designed to provoke debate about serious issues facing children today — child protection issues that might not otherwise get the focus that they deserve.”

This particular debate, hosted by NSPCC, aimed “to shine a light on the difficulties and problems that trans children face in the UK, to ask whether society is doing enough to help them and discuss what more can and should be done.”

Rather than protest the presence of a wife-beater, trans activists, according to Pink News, “vowed to shun the session over the invitation to Sarah Ditum,” who writer Nick Duffy claims, “has a history of extreme comments about trans people.” Complaints online engaged in further slander about Ditum’s perspectives and work, misrepresenting her feminist analysis of gender as “bigotry.”

A petition against the debate (erroneously) claims Ditum “actively campaigns against supporting trans children with anything but conversion therapy.” In truth, pushing children towards medical and social transition as a first approach is more accurately defined as “conversion therapy,” as compared with the more nuanced approach many feminists like Ditum advocate for. The notion that we might consider “support” for children who believe they are struggling with “gender identity” beyond a medicalized, single-minded approach, rooted in regressive gender stereotypes, is not a bigoted one, but a progressive one.

While the petition itself acknowledges Maloney’s history of domestic violence, the vast majority of signees as well as complaints online focused on Ditum’s attendance, rather than Maloney’s.

Nonetheless, Maloney elected to pull out of the debate, complaining that the session had become a “social media circus” and a “personal attack.”

Numerous feminists and other interested parties have come out in support of Ditum, opposing the slander leveled at her, expressing disappointment that the event has been shut down.

While the NPSCC’s statement acknowledges that “many trans children have felt that they aren’t getting the support that they need,” opposition to the event appears to be rooted in a fear of exploring what “support” means. The NPSCC explains:

“… The trans community have raised concerns and told us that they don’t support the NSPCC hosting this discussion. We have listened, and following the withdrawal of a keynote speaker, we are no longer hosting this event.”

The notion that transitioning children is unequivocally the best way to support kids who don’t fit into stereotypical gender roles is highly contested and should be of concern to anyone who claims to have the best interests of children in mind. That questioning this approach and the quickly growing industry surrounding gender transition is being positioned as “bigotry” or “transphobia” is telling. When it becomes impermissible to question ideas, those ideas become dogma, not progress.

As Ditum put it, “they don’t actually ‘dare to debate’ if there is a risk that the conversation might challenge the current conventions around transgender children.”

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

Like this article? Tip Feminist Current!

Personal Info

Donation Total: $1

  • therealcie

    I fully support people who truly believe that transitioning is their best possibility for a happy life, and I deplore hateful statements about trans people or insistence on identifying them with their chromosomal pattern when doing so is hurtful to them. However, gender transition is not like getting an extreme hair style. It is a serious medical procedure and is difficult to reverse. How is it harmful to children questioning their natal gender to insure that transitioning is really the best thing for them? Such a procedure should never be undertaken lightly.

    • Cindi Gold

      You obviously believe the myth that the sexes are born with these separate ”female” and ”male” minds and personalities then,which is what the whole very sexist, very gender stereotyped,artificially gender divided,male dominated society that is totally obsessed and oriented with making the sexes into opposite artificial ”feminine” ”masculine” categories creates and is based on.

    • Yisheng Qingwa

      Nobody is obligated to indulge anyone’s delusions.

  • This is getting ridiculous. Unfortunately not quite ridiculous enough for society in general to reach peak trans yet. It might be sooner rather than later, though, if trans women keep it up. There was an article on io9 yesterday about someone kicked off a flight for wearing (masculine) clothes that disturbed the pilot, and then not doing as he was told. He looked quite masculine, with stubble, and yet his name is Amanda and he prefers to go as “she”. So the article referred to him as she, and some of the commenters, who were not your typical left wing crowd, were very confused. This trend of transitioning while continuing to look exactly the same could be the thing to take things over the top.

    I’m actually starting to worry about being public with my opinions because of other activism I’m involved in, after seeing a site that was formerly heavy on the science allow debate to be shut down, and greying me after years in the black over it. I’m getting so angry I want to fire off letters to politicians, but that might undermine my ability to lobby for other things that affect me personally more, like basic income and accessibility. 🙁

    Please peak soon.

    At any rate, kudos for Ditum for being out there on this subject. And you.

  • Wren

    Although I’m aware this is a disappointment, I’m pleased to see that it was the trans-activist that backed out, and not Ditum. Maybe they’re getting a wee bit nervous??

  • Anon

    The criticisms of Ditum are incorrect and outrageous. All of these people protesting her and not a wife beater? Good to know they have their priorities!

    • Weyoun

      well, the wife was born female right? so they don’t matter.

  • Lucia Lola

    This is getting more and more scary. The anger has always been present in me but more and more I am seeing the shuttering of important dialogue by organisations that exist (or supposed to) for the most vulnerable group in this, which is children.

    I’m stunned.

  • Morag999

    “How is it going to help them by using the pronouns they want when their natal sex is obvious and people will always be mistaking them for it? They’ll know on some level you don’t see them that way.”

    Right. They know that you know because they know it themselves.

    Encouraging a child to disguise her/himself is a brutal abuse of adult power. And insisting that all others must see the disguise as real — which is impossible — sets up the child for inevitable devastation. Inevitable.

    Transgenderism gives shelter to various fetishes and it would seem that one of them is a fetish for emotional fragility and suicidality in young people. I mean, where this fragility doesn’t already exist — at least in sufficient quantities to cause the person to disintegrate when they are “misgendered” — it is created, it is socially engineered and psychologically constructed, to ensure that a young person WILL, eventually, break.

    A year or two back, on Gendertrender, GallusMag wrote a brilliant blog post about the “ghoulish” character of transgenderist ideology. And that’s exactly what a concerted effort in fragility-making is: ghoulish.

  • Just Passing Through

    It really rankles me when they post a picture of what is obvioulsy a big burly hairy fking man and refer to him as her or she and has a name of Amanda (brings Danille Muscato to mind) , …. just fuck it all ! “But you’re being transphobic!” Yeah? Am I? Take your big fat hairy sausage man finger with pink nail polish wagging in my face telling me to call a man a woman and just shove it!. I will not fall in line with this utter madness….sorry. I’m sorry but I’m just over it already… enough of this gaslighting bullshit. (and yes I am aiming this at the vast majority of scamgender autogynephile ‘transwomen’, not true life long transsexuals that do not yell death threats and rape threats at women any time we dare to challenge any part of their agenda to reorder society to their twisted vision) I’m sorry….I think I’m literally reaching peak trans like right this second. Please don’t be shamed away from sharing your opinions, that is exactly what they are counting on. Time to be loud and proud… I’m done with dancing around these assholes!

  • Cadoogan

    Someone needs to tell these people that “1984” wasn’t an instruction manual. It’s not a debate if you don’t allow the participation of people with conflicting views. Treating dysphoria with counseling is not conversion therapy.

    Words have meanings. I’m deeply suspicious of people who would take such liberties with language; in my experience they’re are either malicious or mentally ill.

  • Yes, and many states even require sterilization before allowing a legal sex change. We need to be protecting everyone’s fertility, because procreation rights are fundamental and essential to human dignity and equality. But, procreation rights are only as the sex we were born, not as the other sex. That was a Monty Python joke but everyone believes it today.

  • I was wondering what to call it. It’s easy to get confused.

  • Agree.

  • With any luck, the Danielle Muscatos and Amanda Stevens of this world will be what brings people back to their senses. Biological sex as some postmodern concept to be played with, rather than factual reality? Nope.

    • Just Passing Through

      One can hope. Let’s hope!

  • Where is Bill C-16 right now? Is it still with the House of Commons? I’ve gone and forgotten how things work – two readings, committee, then third reading??? I have no problem with gender expression being protected, but gender identity could be a big problem, depending on how competing human rights are handled.

    ETA: Trans women arguing that sex is just a construct and people can just choose their sex would conflict with sex being existing grounds for protection.

    ETA2: You could argue that people with sex dysphoria are already covered under disability (if there is no undue hardship), so there’s no need to protect gender identity.

    Are any lawyers looking at this and how it is going to be handled in court?

    • Cassandra

      “ETA: Trans women arguing that sex is just a construct and people can just choose their sex would conflict with sex being existing grounds for protection.”

      This is the HUGE problem in a nutshell. This is why it’s so disastrous for women. It is literally trying (and succeeding at the moment) to erase biological sex, which is how females are oppressed.

      Magdalen Berns said something in one of her comments sections like “This has the potential to be the worst thing to happen to women since the Abrahamic religions.” And she is correct.

      There’s a reason why this has been accepted so quickly and is now the new McCarthyism: It totally fucks women over and paints analysis of the root of our oppression, which IS sex based, as bigotry and hatred. It’s a fucking HORRIFIC new form of oppression and misogyny and silencing being positioned as something progressive. If it continues all of our legal recourse will be completely WIPED OUT, and patriarchy is cheering for it. It’s hatred of females on a breathtaking scale. Compared to this Trump is child’s play.

      Long story short: The way that it will be handled in court is that females will lose. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

      • I was sort of hoping that would mean that gender identity would be pretty useless in court, because it conflicts with sex, which got there first. I hope our judges are savvy enough to figure it out.

        (I googled around and found a document from the HRTO about competing human rights, and it’s taken on a case by case basis, with lots of precedents. Most of the examples were religion vs whatever. http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-competing-human-rights)

        On the other hand, my own experiences with provincial tribunals tells me a lot of tribunal staff aren’t that sophisticated when it comes to new issues.

        • Cassandra

          Well, we can hope judges are savvy, but considering that judges are overwhelmingly male, and that women have been some of the worst defenders of this nonsense so female judges won’t necessarily be on our side, it worries me to no end. And you’re right, they won’t be that sophisticated about it in general.

  • Lucia Lola

    Totally with you on the abhorrence of this channel, but the points made in regards to this particular issue are spot on. I would suggest people look more into this C-16, it’s terrifyingly vague.

    Just heard U of T is supporting this professor’s right to his own opinions, let’s hope it sticks.

  • Yisheng Qingwa

    WHEN are we going to stop this?

  • anne

    I’ve just cancelled my donation to NSPCC. So disappointed to see them miss the fact that they are bowing to pressure from male sexual perverts. It’s insane, they more than anyone else should have their red flags go up at such blatant display of male coercive behaviour, but no…

  • Cassandra

    “Unless it’s to eradicate biological sex as a meaningful category.”

    Unfortunately I think this is exactly the goal, whether all who push it think of it that way or not.

    But it’s great that you’re writing a letter. We should probably all do that for whatever gender f*ckery is going on where we live.

  • JingFei

    Even just the other day, a woman I know- a lesbian- just announced on FB that she is Trans now. One week later, she walked into a clinic and came out 30 minutes later with a prescription for testosterone. A drug that will create permanent changes to her body.
    My partner went to a clinic the other week to ask for 5 benzodiazepine because she is petrified of flying on a plane for one work trip.
    It took my partner an hour of convincing, many hurdles to get 5, low dose pills. She has no history of any mental health issues or drug abuse. Just flying anxiety. Yet it was 10 times harder for her to get these.
    That strikes me as absolutely crazy.
    Women in their 50’s have a hard time getting HRT for menopause, and yet, a 26 year old woman ( who has a history of mental health issues, who just lost her mom and is going through grief), decided she was trans in a week, no indication to any of us prior that she was trans. Never mentioned it despite knowing Trans men- and got life changing drugs in a 30 min appointment. She did not have to see a psychiatrist. She did not have to see anyone who specialized in these things. Just a regular MD at a clinic.
    It’s insane.

  • anne

    I hope you are well by now. Sending you best wishes for a speedy and permanent recovery. Peak trans all the way with you, too. xx