Children have been taken into council care after rows with their parents over wanting to change gender, it emerged yesterday.
At least three children were taken into care last year after their families objected to their wishes – but the local authorities involved insisted it was not the main reason they intervened.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of youngsters referred for gender identity treatment in recent years, and campaigners have warned some parents have felt powerless to act if they believed their child was making a flawed decision.
Children have been taken into council care after rows with their parents (stock image) over wanting to change gender, it emerged yesterday
The automated call that’s neither sex
Fans of Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa may have become fond of hearing a soothing female voice answer all of their queries.
But now researchers have come up with the world’s first ‘gender neutral’ voice – amid growing concerns that technology companies are fuelling sexist stereotypes.
The new voice, known as ‘Q’, has a higher pitch than most men naturally have but does not sound like a woman either. It was created from recordings of people who do not identify as either male or female. The project was unveiled yesterday by creative agency Virtue, Copenhagen Pride researchers and EqualAI campaigners. They said they hoped it would show firms how easy it is ‘to recognise that more than two genders exist when developing artificial intelligence devices’.
They claim banking apps tend to opt for male voices for recorded messages as they are seen as more ‘authoritative’ and female voices are used for ‘service-oriented roles’. Amazon only offers a female voice for Alexa but has said this is based on user feedback.
Two councils revealed that children had been taken into care after arguments about their wish to change gender with their parents or carers, following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Social workers at Hillingdon Council in west London said they placed two children in foster homes because of the disputes. And a second west London council, Ealing, said it had done the same with ‘fewer than five’ children. It refused to say how many exactly. Both councils denied the children were taken into care because they were transgender, or solely because their parents or carers did not support their decision.
Hillingdon Borough Council said: ‘In the two cases referred to, the children were not taken into care specifically because they are transgender. No child is taken into care solely because they are transgender.
‘Whilst a child’s sexual identity is assessed, it is complex family dynamics and/or contextual safeguarding issues which may negatively impact on a child that are usually the cause of social worker intervention.’
Ealing Borough Council said: ‘We have never taken a child into care on the basis of a dispute with their parents regarding gender reassignment. While we need to protect the confidentiality of those concerned, we can confirm that care was provided to young people over 16 who are now adults, due to safety concerns which were not predominantly related to gender reassignment.’
Ealing Borough Council (pictured, the council’s offices in west London) said that ‘fewer than five’ children had been taken into foster care
Not all councils responded to the FOI request, which was made by The Sun, meaning the true number of children taken into care could be higher.
According to the most recent figures, the number of young people referred by the NHS for gender identity treatment has risen by 1,000 per cent in six years. There were 2,519 referrals in 2017-18, of which 71 per cent were female.
Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt has ordered an investigation into why so many girls have sought gender reassignment treatment.
Campaigner Stephanie Davies-Arai, the founder of Transgender Trend, which represents parents concerned about the rising number of youngsters seeking treatment, said parents should be able to voice their concerns to their children without fear of being ‘punished’. The High Court has previously granted a request by a 16-year-old that his parents should not be kept informed about his possible gender reassignment.
The child, identified only as PD, was born female and told his adoptive parents he wanted to be treated as male aged 13. He formally changed his name but his parents continue to call him by his female name, a family court judge heard. In 2016, Mr Justice Keehan publicly ruled PD was entitled to cut his parents out: ‘He struggles to understand their complete lack of support and understanding.’