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Letters— We must fight NHS ban on puberty blocking treatment

Plus astronomical vet bills, shrinking nightlife and flying the Palestine flag
Issue 2897
Protesters on Trans Pride marching through central London in July 2023 (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Protesters on Trans Pride marching through central London in July 2023 (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Tory transphobes and gender critics are celebrating the NHS decision to ban puberty blockers for trans and non-binary young people.

The ban fits the anti-woke agenda of a panicking Tory government. It is desperate to scapegoat vulnerable and oppressed groups for a few more reactionary votes.

This is the latest blow to trans people’s access to health care and support.

It comes on the heels of the recent failure of the bill to ban gay and trans conversion therapy to get a second reading in parliament.

The NHS now claims there’s not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness of puberty blockers.

This is despite numerous studies and reports that have clearly shown puberty blockers have positive influences on mental health and reduce the likelihood of suicide.

Young trans and non-binary people already wait years for a first appointment and are left to go through distressing pubertal changes without appropriate medical help and support.

The NHS will now only prescribe puberty blockers as part of clinical trials. Although young people and their families may still be able to obtain them through private practices, at a cost.

Hostile reporting—and anti-trans rhetoric—suggests thousands of young people are being prescribed dangerous experimental drugs.

The fact is that fewer than 100 people currently receive puberty blockers through the NHS.

The scaremongering about puberty blockers is based on transphobic political and ideological objections.

Such medication, which slows or prevents the development of pubertal characteristics, has been prescribed since the 1980s. Forty years of experience shows them to be safe and their effects reversible.

The impact on bone density, which some claim is a risk is, minimal.

That’s especially true because they’re taken for a limited time while the young person decides whether or not they want to pursue gender transition and access cross-sex hormones.

Laura Miles, Leeds

Veterinary monopoly is cat-astrophe

My cat gives me a lot of joy—even if he does want feeding all the time. But the cost of owning a pet is now astronomical—and the reasons why sum up a system that puts profit before everything.

The Competitions and Markets Authority has found that 80 percent of vets don’t give pet owners basic information.

That can include telling us the full cost of treatment before we agree to it. Not only do some vets charge whatever they like, sometimes they even give inappropriate treatment.

This is not simply because individual vets are unscrupulous. Most of the profits from vet care go straight into hands of big firms.

The £2 billion vet industry—and around 1,400 general vet practices—are in the hands of just six corporate groups.

And while two-thirds of people in Britain now own a pet, costs keep going up. This pet care monopoly is the reason for fast-rising prices.

A formal investigation into the pet care market is necessary. But simply breaking up the monopoly isn’t going to solve all of pet-owners problems.

We have to push the market out of pet care— and demand more control over bills and veterinary ethics.

Naima Omar, East London

Gentrification stops us from dancing

In the depths of a recession and cost of living crisis, Britain’s once lively nightlife is fading into obscurity.

Rents for clubs and bars have soared and prices have gone up, smothering the scene and leaving people struggling to afford simple pleasures.

With our wages also vanishing into the pockets of landlords, many find themselves hardly staying afloat, and left little or no room for nights out.

And as gentrification strikes everywhere, ever more clubs are being turned into flats.

Courts now instruct some clubs to close early to prevent “unsocialable noise” for new city centre flat dwellers.

Over 100 independent British nightclubs shut in 2023 alone, and many others are on the brink. Nearly a third of all nightclubs in Britain closed between 2020 and 2023.

Boarded-up venues are now a common sight on the streets of London, casting a shadow over the once vibrant city. The impact goes beyond economics. It cuts deep into the fabric of the city.

Unless action is taken to support our venues—and address the root causes of this crisis—the soul of our cities will go dark, permanently.

El Fraley, North London

We must still fly the flag

The Aspire Party mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, announced last week that he plans to remove the Palestinian flags that fly on our streets.

They been a sign of solidarity for months now, and are flown from lampposts across the borough. Rahman gives his reasons.

Tower Hamlets is in the spotlight of the Tories and the racist far right, he says. And a Tory MP has called it “no-go area”.

But Rahman could not be more wrong in his plan to remove the flags. The move will not pacify the racist right, it will only embolden it.

A better response to Islamophobic attacks on the borough would for Rahman to put himself at the head of the protests on Palestine. He could call for work stoppages on days of action.

And he could take the mayoral chain of office onto the national demonstrations. A show of strength is the only thing that will make the government back off.

Kambiz, East London

F*** Frank Hester

Given the extreme nature of Frank Hester’s racist comments about Diane Abbott, the violence of wishing her dead, and saying she makes him “hate all black women”, shouldn’t he be referred to Prevent?

Never mind the money he donates to the Tories, such comments are divisive and threatening.

These are the very criteria used to label so-called extremists who support Palestine.

Anne James, Dumfries and Galloway

Connect the struggles

I very much enjoyed your article on the striking women workers in textile factories in Egypt (Socialist Worker, 6 March). It’s much-needed inspiration.

To hear of workers organising a fightback in countries across the Middle East is brilliant.

Workers everywhere should combine their local struggle with a stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Amira, South London

Enough of enough

Portugal’s far right Chega (Enough) party amassed a revolting 48 seats in the recent general election.

The left has, over the past decade, contributed directly to the gains of the right. Its government attacked workers and upheld capitalist priorities.

And the left is also now failing to recognise the need for action outside of parliament.

The fascists won’t stop growing until a wider, mass anti-fascist movement is built from below to confront them everywhere.

Ivo F., Leicester

Why gang-up on Haiti?

Socialist Worker’s characterisation of gangs in Haiti is wrong. Progressive gangs have replaced the state and run schooling and healthcare for the poor.

Name withheld, Newcastle

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