NHS apologises for claiming eunuch is a gender identity

17 June 2022, 13:25 | Updated: 17 June 2022, 13:39

NHS bosses apologise for saying eunuch is a gender
NHS bosses apologise for saying eunuch is a gender. Picture: Alamy

By Gina Davidson

Scottish NHS bosses have been forced to apologise and launch an investigation after the organisation published a document to its staff suggesting eunuch should be recognised as a formal gender identity, and as a result, men seeking castration should be helped to receive it.

The paper, which has now been deleted and saw the Scottish Government also apologising for what it called an "error", claimed that “eunuch-identified people” are the “least visible” group among those seeking “gender-affirming medical care”.

It went on to define a eunuch as “an individual assigned male at birth whose testicles have been surgically removed or rendered non-functional, and who identifies as a eunuch” and “individuals who feel that their true self is best expressed by the term eunuch”.

Scotland's National Gender Identity Clinical Network (NGICNS) shared the document, written by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), by uploading it to an official NHS website as part of a consultation over proposed updates to Scottish NHS gender healthcare guidelines.

It stated that eunuchs "generally desire to have their testicles surgically removed or rendered non-functional", and added such people should be offered "surgical intervention" if there is a risk that withholding treatment could lead to them attempting to carry out a medical procedure themselves. 

The WPATH Standards of Care document also provided a direct link to a website which includes graphic and sexually explicit fictional descriptions of child eunuchs. When signing up to the website, called the Eunuch Archive, users are asked to select their interests from a menu of options that includes "forced castration" and "smooth look".

In a footnote, the authors acknowledge “there may be female-assigned eunuchs but at this date there is insufficient documented evidence to include them in this chapter”.

The publication of the document comes as the Scottish Government is embroiled in controversy over its desired reform of the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for transgender people to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate. It wants to remove any need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and instead asking people to self-declare their gender identity.

David Parker, lead clinician at the NGICNS and a WPATH member, this week called on MSPs to back proposed SNP reforms which would make it far easier for trans people to change their legal sex to male or female. He told a Holyrood committee scrutinising the plans that trans and non-binary people were "the experts in their own experience" and should be "recognised as their authentic selves".

Some trans rights activists have also called for the legislation to be amended so that a wider range of gender identities can be formally recognised. 

Susan Smith
Susan Smith. Picture: Alamy

Susan Smith, of the For Women Scotland campaign group which does not want to see the introduction of self-ID of gender, said: "We are disgusted that NHS Scotland thinks that it is appropriate to align with any organisation pushing 'eunuch identity', let alone host a paper about it on their website.

"This is a barbaric practice which, for centuries, was used to demean and abuse young men and boys." 

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Dr Kath Murray, of the policy group MBM, which has also cautioned against self-ID, added: "The issue here goes far beyond a single document, apparently published in error.

"It's the uncritical organisational reliance on a set of treatment standards underpinned by ideology. Even a cursory look at the current WPATH guidelines should set off alarm bells.

"A full investigation would involve assessing the extent to which WPATH standards are embedded within NHS Scotland, how that came about, and given a version of the deleted document will presumably be in the new standards, whether NHS Scot will still take these into account?"

The controversy follows the emergence of the "Nullo", movement among those who do not wish to identify as male or female. Seven men between the ages of 30 and 60, were arrested in north London in February under suspicion of performing illegal castrations and streaming video of the operations online.

They are said to have carried out amputations in a basement flat in Finsbury Park and filmed the procedures for a pay-per-view channel promoted on Twitter.

The group’s leader, who was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm, was said to call himself the Eunuch Maker.

Yesterday Susan Buchanan, the director of National Specialist Services Division Scotland, apologised for the documents being uploaded "in error" and said her organisation would hold a full investigation into the incident. 

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "This material was published in error. The documents have been removed and we apologise to anyone affected."

The new WPATH standards are due out later this year, and are also followed by the Tavistock gender clinic. As well as including eunuch as a gender identity, they are also believed to include dropping the age at which cross-sex hormones can be given to 14 and double mastectomies to 15.

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