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RCGP under pressure to cancel ‘gender critical’ conference

RCGP under pressure to cancel ‘gender critical’ conference

An LGBTQ group have called on the RCGP to cancel a conference to be held at its headquarters due to concerns about its ‘gender critical’ topics.

Next month the Clinical Advisory Network on Sex and Gender (CAN-SG) will be hosting a conference, First Do No Harm, from the RCGP’s conference centre in Euston Square, which is run by an independent events company.

Speakers at the conference, including GPs, psychiatrists and professors of sociology, will discuss ‘safeguarding’ around sex and gender, ‘sex-based language in healthcare’, and the ‘impacts of gender medicine on same-sex attracted youth’.

However, Pride RCGP group, an informal network set up to deliver educational programmes and Pride events, criticised the RCGP’s ‘accidental endorsement’ of the event, stating that the group includes ‘people who invalidate or dehumanise lived experiences of trans/non-binary peers/patients’ and has made the community feel unsafe.

The RCGP told Pulse that the event in question is not an RCGP event and that the RCGP is not involved in it.

CAN-SG, a ‘coalition’ of clinicians who are campaigning for ‘improved treatment options for gender dysphoria’, believe that prescribing hormone blockers for gender dysphoria should be ‘scientifically scrutinised’ as there is ‘currently no robust evidence that they improve long-term outcomes’.

Their website also shares views that the proposed bill banning conversion therapy ‘could harm people with gender-related distress’.

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On Friday last week, the RCGP said it was ‘aware of a situation’ relating to the conference booking and is ‘in discussion’ with the events company who manage the venue.

Members of Pride RCGP are calling on the college to cancel the conference and shared the college’s online feedback form for others to do the same.

In a post on X, Dr Richard Ma, a GP and member of Pride RCGP, said: ‘This meeting might give an air of credibility and face validity, but it is the accidental endorsement by the RCGP, which will do the most damage. LGBTQ+ patients already feel unsafe and have difficult relationships with NHS when accessing care due to perceived discrimination.

‘This event would worsen the already little trust the LGBTQ community has with general practice. It is also hurtful to know this would undo years of work Pride RCGP have done to build relationships between LGBTQ community and general practice and improve their care.’

‘While we believe we need honest and respectful discussions to improve care of gender-questioning young people, we should not have to share a platform with people who invalidate or dehumanise lived experiences of trans/non-binary peers/patients. Our community does not feel safe,’ Dr Ma added.

The college said that the event is being held at 30 Euston Square, which is the headquarters of the RCGP but also an event space run by an independent events company.

The RCGP said in a post on X: ‘We’re aware of a situation regarding an upcoming event at 30ES and are in discussion with the events company who manage the venue. We’ll provide an update as soon as we can.’

Pulse has approached CAN-SG for comment.


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Eithne MacRae 12 February, 2024 5:43 pm

Surely all view points need to be heard? How is this agenda making anyone feel unsafe? Where is the tolerance?

A B 12 February, 2024 6:52 pm

RGCP please don’t allow these intolerant bully’s to intimidate and dictate what others are allowed to talk about. This kind of intimidation is a threat to democracy.,

Tim Atkinson 12 February, 2024 7:05 pm

Agree entirely with the comments from Eithne MacRae & AB

Gordon Mclellan 12 February, 2024 7:16 pm

How can seeking to improve treatment options, ensuring proper scientific scrutiny of present treatment pathways and validating outcomes be seen as threatening and damaging to patients with gender dysphoria? Surely we have always asked for proper scrutiny and evidence based information on outcomes on an ongoing basis for all our treatments for all conditions. That is one of the basic tenets of medical practice. This is another example of minority pressure groups trying to bully the profession into accepting unproven and unvalidated therapies?

Nick Mann 12 February, 2024 7:49 pm

It would be completely inappropriate to cancel this event. The care of transgender and questioning individuals is complex and it deserves proper and careful scrutiny, particularly in context of care for children with gender dysphoria. The evidence base for puberty blockers and children transitioning is highly uncertain and it is contested. There is nothing transphobic about the CAN-SG organisation and there is no reason to use the hyperbole of “feeling unsafe”. Pride RCGP should welcome such opportunities to widen the breadth of evidence, and to maximise safety of children in their care who may present with gender dysphoria.

Anthony Everington 12 February, 2024 7:57 pm

I learn through hearing different views and it is how medicines advances. It is particularly important in new areas that need exploration, debate and caring and thoughtful solutions. When I see language such as “people who invalidate and dehumanise” and similar and worse personal attacks on social media against those who are trying to advance science, as is this conference, I wonder who is doing the dehumanising?
I believe it would be an enormous retrograde step for the RCGP to cancel this conference. It would question its commitment to freedom of speech, and academic and scientific discourse and advancement.
I would equally defend the right for the Pride RCGP group to hold a conference at the RCGP conference centre.
Holding a conference there does not imply endorsement or not of any of the speakers views.

David Banner 12 February, 2024 8:54 pm

Very refreshing and reassuring comments here.
Cancel Culture needs to be consigned to history, Shutting down reasonable debate with bogus claims of “feeling unsafe” has been a censorship tactic of these modern day Mary Whitehouses for far too long.
Fully aware that they are losing the arguments, they fall back on shouting down their critics whilst labelling them -ists and -phobes, attempting to destroy lives and careers with vicious online mob attacks.
The RCGP needs to stand firm, invite these cancellers to hold their own meeting, but allow people to draw their own conclusions on a highly controversial topic that needs debating.

John Beard 12 February, 2024 10:35 pm

It does make me laugh when people argue there is no such thing as cancel culture. Well here is exhibit A for anyone in doubt.
Please stand fast RCGP, although, lamentably, I’m not sure they will.

Simon Gilbert 12 February, 2024 10:44 pm

I recommend everyone listen to one Stella O’Malley’s podcast, Gender – A Wider Lens. She is one of the members of the organising group. Any medical disorder should be amenable to open discussion and constant evaluation and analysis of evidence – this group is part of this process.

Dr No 12 February, 2024 11:26 pm

As an out and queer GP in a 28 year relationship with a transgender person I feel I can speak with some experience. We both feel that legitimate debate on trans matters is indeed being suppressed by fascistic trans fanatics doing real harm to some young people. Stand fast RCGP.

Simon Braybrook 13 February, 2024 12:04 am

I fully respect the rights of this group and any other to speak. However, looking at this conference, I don’t see it having the full representation and inclusion of trans people especially trans youth and their families, and do feel they are presenting a negative slant of transition. As a result I don’t want any part of if and so by association, don’t want any part in the RCGP.

C H 13 February, 2024 7:55 am

Dr Ma states “we need honest and respectful discussions to improve care of gender-questioning young people”. I wonder under what conditions he would propose that sort of discussion goes ahead if this dispassionate, evidence-based conference is disallowed on the basis of “safety”. I’m also intrigued by dr braybrook’s feeling that the conference’s “ presenting a negative slant of transition” is an a priori reason for rejection – what if the very truth is that overall the consequences of transition are more negative than positive? If the evidence is showing that a particular medical approach is indeed harmful would we not want to know, on the basis that we don’t wish to have a “negative” attitude?

Dylan Summers 13 February, 2024 8:49 am


It may be true that this conference does not represent both sides of the gender-theory vs gender-critical debate (if those are the correct terms – correct me if not)

However I can’t help noticing that the “mandatory training” I’ve been given around gender did not represent both sides of the debate: it included no suggestion that it might be valid for a clinician to hold a gender-critical position.

I get the impression that this event is “lone dissenting voice” in a healthcare ecology that appears to have officially adopted a “gender-theory” view. To criticize it for not giving weight to the prevalent view is unreasonable.

Chris Bronsdon 13 February, 2024 8:54 am

It is tragic and ironic that some are calling for this conference, entitled “First Do No Harm”, to be cancelled.
What is “unsafe” is the promotion of treatments that have no medical evidence base behind them.

I can highly recommend watching this short video;

Chris Bronsdon 13 February, 2024 9:33 am

I agree entirely with Dylan Summers.
For far too long the NHS has accepted the narrative that a persons biological sex can be changed with medical “treatment”.
My experience of mandatory training is the same.
An evidence based assessment and debate on the treatment of gender dysphoria is overdue very welcome.

Christopher Ho 13 February, 2024 3:55 pm

Nick Mann – “Pride RCGP should welcome such opportunities to widen the breadth of evidence, and to maximise safety of children in their care who may present with gender dysphoria.”

What if the aims of Pride RCGP are NOT to widen the breadth of evidence, or to maximise safety of children? – Just a thought.

David Gordon 13 February, 2024 5:48 pm

CAN-SG are not an impartial group just asking questions. Multiple studies have shown gender affirming care both reduces depression and suicide rates. The studies they site just show that transgender population have a higher depression rate than background population. Which on reading this comment section is not hard to understand why. We should be openly welcoming more study into gender care because we are awful at it however I do not believe this should be undertaken with the support of RCGP by a group who openly disagree that this group of people should exist and advocate for conversion therapy.

If we are not careful on how we approach this very difficult subject we could end up with GPs accusing pride groups of “not wanting to “maximise the safety of children” and whatever the underlying meaning there could be.

Peter Frost 13 February, 2024 6:17 pm

The trans community make up less than 0.5% of. the population, but a disproportionate amount of time is spent debating their rights. This is somehow equated with the civil rights movement or gay rights? There is not a huge population of oppressed trans people living in terror and poverty. The majority do not need to bend to the will of a tiny number of vocal ideological activists.
The subject needs rational debate so the RCGP should not acquiesce – what the hell has happened to free speech ?
We need more Dr No’s to speak out and give real balance.

Hello My name is 13 February, 2024 8:25 pm

I have felt significant unease when referring neuro-divergent teenage girls for gender dysphoria treatment, when in all honesty, I felt they needed counselling/ management of other mental health difficulties, social support and more guidance around managing the difficult emotions that often occur in teenage years (especially it seems in females). I would welcome some more critical analysis around the potential harms of these unproven treatments on a hugely vulnerable population. Bravo to this group; and RCGP- please do not stand in the way of free discourse.

Christopher Ho 14 February, 2024 11:10 am

David Gordon

“CAN-SG are not an impartial group just asking questions.” You ASSERT the aims of CAN-SG but do not question those of Pride RCGP? Does CAN-SG receive govt funding like the pride groups?
“Multiple studies have shown gender affirming care both reduces depression and suicide rates.” – There’s also other studies that show they do not. And a further question here – is it worth the negative effects of the treatment?

“We should be openly welcoming more study into gender care because we are awful at it however I do not believe this should be undertaken with the support of RCGP by a group who openly disagree that this group of people should exist and advocate for conversion therapy”. – Where can I ask did CAN-SG say these people shouldn’t “exist”? and how else can we be “openly welcoming” other than platforming on mainstream discourse?

“If we are not careful on how we approach this very difficult subject we could end up with GPs accusing pride groups of “not wanting to “maximise the safety of children” and whatever the underlying meaning there could be.” – Again, how much more careful can we be other than having open discourse? If you can be cynical of 1 group’s aims, can’t I be cynical of another group’s? Do you include Stonewall in these groups?

David Gordon 14 February, 2024 4:37 pm

I am far from an expert on these matters and I do not wish to try and represent an entire group to which I have no claim poorly. However I will try to briefly address a few of the points you made. Again I welcome study, though my colleague above believes that roughly 300,000 people in the UK is not enough to care about its a rapidly growing group (look at how the number of left handed people changed once it was socially acceptable) and I think will soon be a part of our daily lives as GPs.

I went looking for studies that were negative I really did, the most negative evidence I could find was a 2015 retrospective study from Sweden that only compared surgical intervention to hormones alone and was a comparison of hospitalization of 13 to 7 which falls well below statistical significance but again please we need more studies into how to help this group.

If you are a group advocating for the reduction in rights of a minority its usually best not to come right out and say it. A quick google does show Stella O’Malley as a listed member, she appears to advocate that transgenderism is caused by autogynophillia a sexual fetish. There is significant difference between a group advocating for and against a group of people. I feel we have reached a point we can all agree a mens rights group should not be allowed a conference to talk about whether a womans place is really working in medicine when they believe we really need to take a step back and look at a study they found that shows women used to be happier in the home.

I did not mean to misrepresent you, I believe that for whatever reason CAN-SG do not believe people should transition. I may be too used to hearing dog whistles these days but what exactly did you mean when you said pride RCGP do not want to maximize the safety of children?

I believe the vast majority of GP’s working for the NHS only want what’s best for their patients otherwise they would have gone into private practice as soon as possible. I would like to think the passion of each side only comes from a strong belief that nobody actually “wishes to do harm”. I hope that until we can as a profession agree on what that is we can at least treat all our patients with respect and dignity.

Christopher Ho 15 February, 2024 12:48 pm

I strongly appreciate the response David and agree with many of the things mentioned. We definitely agree on the do no harm.

From your research, if there was little studies into lack of benefit/harms of gender “affirming” treatment, as it is called, then the only conclusion can be more research BEFORE we experiment on children, if not adults too. Or at least formalisation of research into the potential harms of the treatment, just look at the growing group of de-transitioners. There is little in way of long term studies either, as all this (taxpayer funded gender treatment) is a fairly new thing in the last decade or two. I must point out that being cynical of a groups aims, and questioning the treatments a group advocates for, does not equate to “reduction in rights”. And a member of a lobby group might have a certain opinion that isn’t shared or representative of the group. You think men’s rights groups should be deplatformed? I think no one should be deplatformed, but that’s just me as an actual free speech advocate. As another commenter mentioned above, it is pointless now to hold the position that cancel culture doesn’t exist.

What I meant when posing the question of whether pride RCGP wants to maximise the safety of children is that any lobby/advocacy group can have other/hidden agendas other than their stated aims. The desire to acquire more funds for example, whether via the state or donations, look at BLM. The desire to have increased influence and control politically or in society, look at Stonewall, the WEF and ESG scores, Blackrock, the list goes on . The desire to de-stabilise a functioning society by attacking its fundamental values and units – see cultural Marxism, Yuri Bezmenov and ideological subversion. It is only sensible to be cynical of all groups, but even more so, the ones that want to shout others down.

Hannah Ryan 15 February, 2024 2:48 pm

With regard to David Gordon’s points about the evidence based for gender-affirming care and CAN-SG’s conference. Please note the conference will address the treatment of children and young people with gender dysphoria. A few systematic reviews have been published in this area now (including two by NICE) which conclude that there is insufficient evidence to back the use of puberty suppressants and gender-affirming hormone treatment in this population, except in a research setting. The Cass Review into gender services for children and young people commissioned further research in this area, and will report soon. Cass’ interim report highlights the paucity of evidence in this area, and the lack of agreement on the aetiological basis for gender dysphoria in youth amongst clinicians in this field, which in turn informs divergent treatment approaches. I would urge anyone interested in this area to read it, and the forthcoming report.
The CAN-SG conference will cover “current controversies in the care of children and young people with gender-related distress, safeguarding as it relates to sex and gender, sex-based language in healthcare, and addressing the impacts of gender medicine on same-sex attracted youth”. Several of the speakers are clinicians working in this field. I wonder what has led David Gordon to conclude that “CAN-SG do not believe people should transition”? There is no evidence that they believe this. The focus of the conference is on children and young people, safeguarding, and patient safety.

Ruth Brown 15 February, 2024 3:58 pm

Do not let Trans Healthcare become the next frontal lobotomy scandal. Open debate and research is massively needed in this area. Do not let pressure groups shut down proper debate research and analysis.

David Jarvis 16 February, 2024 11:09 am

It becomes impossible to debate these things because people become entrenched. If you are in a minority in any society your life is immediately difficult. What are your life hopes and ambitions. In a majority heterosexual society how hard is it to meet likeminded people if you are in a non binary minority. Clearly ensuring rights and the legal protections afforded by marriage if that is what you want is only fair. But for all that you remain a minority like a head up coin in a sea of tails. My only question is when you look at body dysmorphia how often do we amputate a limb seen as the offending part compared to trying to cope with the dysmorphia? Perhaps we should take the easy line and chop a few more off. This seems to be the rote for gender dysphoria. I haven’t a clue how you can ever rock solidly decide the right course of action. Not all end up choosing transition and some who choose transition change their minds. But it strikes me that many start unhappy and despite all our best efforts remain unhappy. What is happiness?