Mail on Sunday accused of ‘scaremongering’ about trans children after story about ‘DIY trans pills’
The Mail on Sunday has been criticised after publishing a story about transgender children that has been called “anti-trans scaremongering.”
In the Mail on Sunday on April 22, reporters had a 15-year-old boy purchase oestrogen tablets from an online pharmacy to demonstrate the “frightening ease” of buying the medication as an under-18.
This was reportedly prompted after an investigation by the paper into multiple online forums where transgender youth discussed their transitions and their medical treatments.
The piece was titled: “Cowboy chemists are selling ‘DIY trans’ pills to teenagers and more and more are ‘risking their lives’ by taking black market drugs.”
Although testosterone, typically used by trans men, is a heavily controlled substance and is more difficult to obtain, oestrogen is more available online partially due to its use in hormonal birth control.
Transgender girls — who are frequently referred to in the Mail on Sunday piece as boys — were reportedly seen to share information with other teenagers on these forums on how to obtain hormonal treatment.
The piece used the now-closed online pharmacy Quality Health Inc to purchase the drugs without an age check.
The story has been criticised by many for not discussing in depth the potential harms caused by not being able to access treatment or the fact that many cisgender people use online pharmacies.
The Mail on Sunday stated that this “DIY transitioning” was increasing, due to the waiting times associated with NHS gender identity services.
The piece said: “Do-it-yourself transitioning among adults is also on the rise, largely because of long waiting lists to see specialists.”
There is a well-documented history of excessive waiting lists for gender identity services, with many trans people facing waiting times of two-and-a-half years.
However, the numbers of trans adults who are forced into “DIY transitioning” are not officially available.
Many have accused the story of failing to find any concrete evidence that trans under-18s were purchasing these drugs, with one pro-trans Twitter account calling the article “anti-trans scaremongering.”
The Mail on Sunday piece did state that there were significant medical problems that could be caused by taking cross-sex hormones such as oestrogen, including infertility, sexual dysfunction, and incontinence.
Many have pointed out that infertility may be an intended side effect of transitioning, while others have pointed to the multiple stories about trans parents biologically conceiving their own children despite being on hormones.
Dr John Dean, chair of the National Clinical Reference Group for Gender Identity Services, warned previously that significant harm is caused when trans people are unable to access healthcare.
He said: “Not treating people is not a neutral act – it will do harm.
“There are a number of studies that report evidence of suicide and self-harm among trans people who are unable to access care.
“It is an intensely demeaning and frustrating experience to have to live in a social role in a body that is incompatible with your deepest inner sense of self.”
A 2017 study by Stonewall found that nearly half of all transgender schoolchildren had attempted suicide, with subsequent research stating that allowing trans young people to use their chosen name reduced their risk of suicide by 65 percent.
The article has been widely criticised on social media, with several critics highlighting that many trans children, particularly those who do not receive parental support, are significantly more likely to suffer from mental health issues or attempt suicide.
“The Daily Mail has been lurking on a trans subreddit for the story on the evils of self-meddling and how kids aren’t telling their parents with no mention of what alternative a lot of these kids are taking (suicide) or why that’s the case,” wrote Twitter user @RenXWhy.
Other critics of the Mail on Sunday article highlighted the recent trend of certain press outlets to regularly post anti-trans stories.
“Another week, another sinister anti-trans article in the Mail on Sunday,” one person wrote.
The Mail on Sunday published another story about transgender children on the same day, this time with a doctor criticising the use of “sex change drugs” on under 18s.
The headline states: “NHS sex change drugs are putting hundreds of children at risk each year.”
The article claims that hormone replacement therapies could affect the fertility of people who take them and may be harmful in the long term.
Many have pointed out that this is often one of the points of the treatment, and that these are not given to children under the age of 16.
After both stories were published, some pointed out that regardless of the way trans people seek treatment, they will be subject to criticism.
Susie Green, the CEO of the charity Mermaids which supports trans children and their families, criticised the coverage.
She said:”Transphobia is the last acceptable form of bigotry and the Mail on Sunday is using someone with no experience or expertise in the treatment of trans children as a voice regarding children with gender dysphoria.
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“With these stories, the Mail on Sunday is on the one hand holding up the idea that treatment for trans children shouldn’t be allowed and on the other hand highlighting that young people are driven to finding treatment over the internet because the NHS is not fit for purpose.
“It seems a little curious.”
Another reader was heavily critical of the pieces, saying: “‘OMG, trans people are getting medication without going to their GPs!’ and also ‘OMG, trans people are getting medication by going to their GPs!'”
PinkNews has contacted The Mail on Sunday for comment.