05:34, December 13 96 0 theguardian.com

2020-12-13 05:34:06
Letters: our treatment of trans teenagers

The Keira Bell editorial supports the inhumane treatment of trans teenagers, a marginalised group already under serious threat in daily life and the media (“A welcome judgment that makes children’s safety central”).

The piece fails to mention that the judgment questions consent on puberty blockers mostly because of likely subsequent irreversible steps, not because of the blockers themselves. It also ignores that Bell’s solicitor is enmeshed in the conservative Christian movement against human rights, such as abolishing abortion – which raises a possibility that trans kids might be merely collateral damage here in a battle against Gillick rights [covering the competence of minors to consent to medical treatment].

Waiting times to access the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) are more than three years. Thus, UK transgender teenagers can only transition socially, obviously entirely reversibly. Persistence with living as “trans” is thus ensured before a teenager comes anywhere near any medical attention, let alone puberty blockers which require additional waiting and assessments.

The dubious conclusion that “the judgment casts doubt on the gender-affirming model of treatment” and subsequent discussion show the Observer’s lack of empathy. The judgment barely considers the ethics of not providing treatment for transgender teenagers; the Observer aggravates this by arguing against what little society has to offer to transgender teenagers, without alternatives. Inaction, or failing to affirm, amounting to a forced form of conversion therapy, cannot be a choice.

Eerke Boiten

Rugby

Your leading article on the implications of the high court ruling was a model of common sense. Unfortunately, this will almost certainly lead to a flurry of allegations that the Observer is “transphobic” and no longer a “safe space” for transgender people. In an age when “feelings” have become the source of authority, rather than objective reality, it takes courage to assert Enlightenment principles. Please stick to your guns.

Michael Pyke

Shenstone, Staffordshire

“Any questioning of the gender-affirming model… is dismissed as transphobic,” thundered your editorial. This is the myth of the threat from the powerful trans lobby. It dismisses transphobia as not existing, and allegations of transphobia as malicious and divorced from reality. Worse, if we are so powerful, then defensive action must be taken against us to protect our alleged “victims”, a threat of violence that frightens me.

Possibly, a few trans people will allege transphobia where none is, but they will be ignored. We are ignored most of the time, except when we can be used as the metonymy for the most ridiculous fringe of wokeness. Please remember we are vulnerable human beings.

Abigail Maxwell

Irthlingborough, Wellingborough

Northamptonshire

Privatisation and Grenfell

As an architect, I agree with everything that Rowan Moore says (“The culture of incompetence that led to Grenfell still imperils us”, Comment). In the course of the 20th century, it was determined that building regulations should no longer stipulate forms of construction but specify “functional requirements” instead. This approach was supposed to promote competition and innovation in the industry.

Many years ago, I asked Bill Allen, sometime head of the Building Research Establishment, a question about this. His answer electrified me: “Things fail in systems.” The implication was that even the most conscientious architect could produce a specification that might fail in unexpected ways.

The Grenfell cladding was an efficient system for quickly spreading fire over the outside of a building but hardly anyone realised. It was the privatisation of the building regulations that made it all possible.

Conall Ó Catháin

Belfast

Brexit has left politics behind

It is true that problems over Brexit lie “in our wantonly destructive politics” (“As we close in on a Brexit that pleases nobody, how did we end up here?”, Comment). And that this pushes politicians to “more extreme positions than the voters who put them there”.

But that is because Labour and the Conservatives – in existence for a century – no longer represent the main blocks of opinion or are capable of building a broad coalition.

The Brexit/Remain (Rejoin) split is a political, cultural and social fact that is encountered in every aspect of everyday life, and we have yet to have parties that recognise or represent it.

Stephen Dorril

Netherthong, Holmfirth

A vision for our cities

“Don’t save the high street, change it completely” (News): this plea from Mary Portas provided a good insight into some of the innovative thinking that is informing possible revisioning of our high streets. The emphasis on environmental and social sustainability, innovation rather than mediocrity, the provision of alteration or repair services and converting shop premises to residential are all ideas to be welcomed.

But what about demolishing those buildings that are dilapidated, unfit or just ugly and replacing them with urban parkland? Something akin to London’s squares, with their shrubs, flower beds, trees and grass and benches. These squares (or circles, or triangles, or riverside/canalside walkways) could be interspersed with shops and cafes. They could become linked green spaces providing much needed wildlife corridors. There could be play areas for children, street theatre, musicians and singers, dog walking.

There has been so much said during this Covid-19 outbreak about the value of natural open areas where people can safely meet whilst physically distancing, where they can breathe fresh air and where they can live alongside and be cheered by plants, birds, bees and other urban wildlife.

This mosaic of pedestrianised open land dotted with shops, cafes and services, galleries, libraries and theatres, made accessible for wheelchair users and those with other disabilities, could fit in easily with park-and-ride schemes. With all this, perhaps the “escape rooms” mentioned in the article won’t be necessary.

Rosalind Gillan

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Digital deficiencies

As a 61-year-old, I was intrigued by your response that “your meter is apparently 50 years old and tricky to interpret” (Your problems, Cash). I think Anna Tims was saying that the electrical meter is an analogue one with moving dials, rather than a digital display. This was standard when I was growing up. I would suggest that it is not that its great age is a problem per se; rather that a generation of people do not have a skill that was once routine. It may be an urban myth, but I believe there are many younger people who cannot tell the time using an analogue watch or clock (ie that has a clockface with moving hands). I do realise that I should probably just go somewhere unobtrusive and gather some more dust with the rest of the old people...

PS We got a “smart” meter fitted earlier this year. Unfortunately, due to a lack of mobile signal it has no connectivity, so is less smart than the – possibly 50-year-old – meter it replaced!

Jo Lynch

Lydford, Devon

What price charity?

“The diocese of Chester wants to sell [glebe land in the centre of West Kirby] to developers. They claim that charity law forces them to obtain the highest price.” (Letters) So the moneychangers have now progressed from operating in the temples to controlling them?

Eddie Dougall

Walsham le Willows,

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

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