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I have two twitter accounts: a professional one (this one), a personal one, and I run a third account for @RainbowNHSBadge

I’ve been trying to decide which account to post this thread from but I think it has to be this one really
My name’s Mike Farquhar. I’m a consultant paediatrician, specialising in sleep medicine

I have a couple of professional side-interests in parallel to my main job

One is the impact of shiftwork and sleep deprivation on NHS staff

The other is around advocating for LGBT+ people
I’ve spoken about what I’m about to speak about here before; much of the content comes from a plenary talk I gave @RCPCHtweets Conference last year

But, for reasons that will hopefully become clear, I think it’s important to restate some of this again…
I came out late in life; I grew up in this country at a time when the idea of being gay was viewed with a huge degree of negativity and hostility

At the time that I was realising I was gay, the prevailing cultural idea was that gay men were a threat, specifically to children
Powerful voices, including the then Prime Minister, made it clear that homosexuality was something to be seen with concern and suspicion; that children and young people should not be affirmed if they said they were gay, and to do so would “cheat them of a sound start in life”
Those attitudes were enshrined in law

The “promotion” of homosexuality in schools was made illegal

Schools were forbidden to teach homosexuality was acceptable, and the law described homosexual relationships as “pretended”
The message, from the Prime Minister down, codified in law, was that being gay was wrong, it was harmful, immoral, that gay men were a threat to others (specifically children), and that diseases like AIDS were the consequence of a “lifestyle” that was seen as sinful and wrong
When Freddie Mercury died in 1991, Joe Haines (a former Labour press secretary) wrote this column, published in the Daily Mirror

“For his kind, AIDS is a form of suicide”

I was 15 years old

This was still seen as an acceptable way to talk about people like me
If you’re a young person realising they are gay, growing up with that political and cultural attitude around you, it causes harm

It makes you afraid, makes you scared to speak about how you think and feel, internalises all of that negative emotion - and that has consequences
We know that growing up in 80s and 90s caused harm to huge numbers of LGBT+ people

The story of the damage it causes is literally told in scars on my body

Thatcher was wrong
Section 28 was wrong
The media were wrong
The churches were wrong
The prevailing attitude was wrong
Just because powerful voices say something, just because the media echo and amplify, just because official voices prevaricate or pontificate, it doesn’t mean they’re right

What I needed more than anything as a kid growing up was to hear voices of people standing in opposition
The attitude towards trans people in this country today is hostile, driven by ignorance, often by bigotry and by a determination by some to portray all trans people as a threat, to individuals and to society
Just as in the 80s gay men were caricatured as being a threat to children, much of the public discourse about trans people today is filtered through a lens of concern about trans people being a threat to others
If individuals commit offences they should be prosecuted, whoever they are

We must not demonise an entire group of people because of an inflated sense of perceived threat by some

Trans people just want to be themselves and to live as safely and happily as they can
When prominent voices, and JK Rowling is now one of the loudest, amplify ignorant, outdated and wrong ideas about trans people, harm ripples out and gathers the strength of a tsunami

It makes trans people, especially young people, feel isolated, scared, makes them turn inward
And we know - we absolutely know - that as a consequence trans young people are at staggering risk of harm to their mental health, to self harm, and to attempt suicide

Those young people need to hear voices around them challenging those like Rowling, need to be able to feel safe
And this absolutely matters

(Daniel Radcliffe has worked with the @TrevorProject to reduce risk of suicide in LGBT+ young people for some time now)
As paediatricians, I think one of our most important responsibilities is to give voice to children/young people where they themselves find it hard to speak up and be heard

We know having just one supportive adult in their corner can make a world of difference to LGBT+ teens
We have a responsibility to educate ourselves, to be aware of the issues, and to be able to clearly advocate on behalf of young people who absolutely need us to be an ally…
I run an adolescent sleep clinic

If you’re trans, your chance of having disrupted sleep also goes up significantly; sleep is often affected when dealing with stresses and worries

I talk to trans teens, and their families

I hear their stories, do my best to understand and help
So, I do not stand with JK Rowling

As a cis gay man, I stand with my trans siblings #Pride

As a paediatrician, I stand with trans young people who need to be seen, need to be heard, and who need voices to advocate for and with them
That’s where @RainbowNHSBadge came from

Kids like I was need people to listen, to understand, who will help and be a voice when they’re too scared to find it for themself

LGBT+ young people today need *us* to be those people, to make #TinyChanges that start to make a difference
Please listen to trans people

Emily’s Story, from the @Mermaids_Gender team is a good place to start

@Genderintell is also a great place to find information and support
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