James Esses

James Esses is no longer studying psychotherapy, and wants to sue his course provider, the Metanoia Institute. He has raised £50,000 in five days.

Esses has been fearmongering about trans children. His basic lie is that children are “transed”, that children who will not benefit from social transition or puberty blockers, or who will suffer long term damage because of such treatment, are being pushed into treatment by the uncritical adherents of what he calls “gender theory”. He claims such people “solely affirm gender dysphoric clients into their identified gender”, and want all therapists to do the same “on pain of criminal punishment”. That is a shocking allegation. Is there any evidence for it?

Compared to the monstrous “gender theory”, his claimed position is entirely reasonable. He says in his crowdfunder that he only wants “to treat clients professionally and according to their needs”. He petitioned the government to “safeguard evidence-based therapy” for gender dysphoric children, as if there were any threat to that. He claims that “Studies show that many dysphoric children will come to identify as their biological sex”. Well, it depends what you mean by dysphoric. Studies claiming high levels of “desistance” do not show that children who identify as trans and want to transition are likely to change their minds.

The government response made some worrying claims: they will “protect under-18s from irreversible decisions”. If they think that includes puberty blockers, we may have government interference in medical treatment doctors, parents and the child all believe is needed. That is the position American legislators have taken.

Turning to the Daily Mail, what did Esses do? He volunteered for Childline, but was sacked because he “use[d] the service to advance [his] personal campaigns” and gave ” the impression that Childline endorses [his] personal campaigns”.

Aged 29 he cannot have practised as a barrister for long before becoming a civil servant and then choosing psychotherapy as his third career, but may still know English law better than I do. He will know his student contract. The Mail claims he was dismissed from his course by email for bringing negative attention to Metanoia by starting the petition. This might breach his entitlement to a fair process.

His crowdfunder claims he was discriminated against because of his gender critical beliefs, but starting the petition was an action rather than a belief. He also founded the “thoughtful therapists” twitter feed, which may give the impression that he would, as a therapist, go beyond exploratory therapy to find the best way forward for a distressed child, and instead pressure them to avoid social transition. That would be conversion therapy: to rigorously refuse to countenance social transition or hormones as an appropriate course for a child, and pressure them into another course.

In the crowdfunder he says “I hold gender critical beliefs: that sex is biological and immutable”. Well, possibly. However, trans people exist and benefit from social transition, hormones and surgery. Nobody wants to “trans” someone whom it would not benefit. What would they possibly gain? Insofar as Esses denies these obvious truths, he is incapable of functioning as a psychotherapist.

The petition was based on a falsehood, that the government might “criminalise essential, explorative therapy”. There is no chance of that. Any therapist seeing a client who presents as trans will keep an open mind. Only a psychiatrist can refer a child to an endocrinologist for hormone treatment.

Consider the Royal College of Psychiatrists position statement on supporting transgender and gender-diverse people. It defines conversion therapy as “treatments for transgender people that aim to suppress or divert their gender identity – i.e. to make them cisgender – that is exclusively identified with the sex assigned to them at birth”. Clearly, exploratory therapy is not forbidden. “The College supports psychiatrists in fully exploring their patient’s gender identity (involving their families where appropriate) in a non-judgemental, supportive and ethical manner.”

Consider the New Zealand government’s draft Bill. It defines conversion practice as “performed with the intention of changing or suppressing the individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” Exploration would not be forbidden. Ideological denial that transition can ever be right for a patient would.

What of the UK Council for Psychotherapy? It says “Conversion therapy is an umbrella term for a therapeutic approach, model or individual viewpoint that demonstrates an assumption that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other, and which attempts to bring about a change of sexual orientation or gender identity, or seeks to suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity on that basis.” Esses’ statements, on twitter and elsewhere, may be sufficient to show he holds such a viewpoint and therefore would be vulnerable to the discipline tribunal, as the UKCP’s ethics stand now. But there is clearly no threat to exploratory therapy.

Esses has attempted to spread fear that therapists are wrongfully transing children, and that law or ethics on conversion therapy might outlaw exploration of gender identity and dysphoria. This is clearly untrue. Childline says he was campaigning against transition rather than properly counselling callers.

I hope Esses loses his court action. However his raising £50,000 in five days shows the huge amount of money available for court action against trans rights, or institutions or law supporting trans people.

7 thoughts on “James Esses

  1. In – well, hopefully related news – the documentary Pray Away is available for streaming. A programme that covers the conversion movement and follows the lives of LGBTQ+ survivors – including former organisers who found they could not live without being true to who they are.

    Yet, here we seem to be with certain sectors wishing to ‘protect’ others as if being trans, like being gay in the last century, is something you can catch.

    Liked by 2 people

      • A cross party group (IMO) spoke with compassion, kindness, and (dare I say?) anger at why such nonsense is still permitted in our society.

        Yet, here we are with absolutely feck all being done about it. Oh, my apologies, apparently ignoring it counts as doing something 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Conversion therapy” OUGHT to be made available on the NHS,not banned.
        But in any case there is a “catch-22” situation…one’s sex and the sex one is attracted to are both targeted by the bans as never to be questioned,a male attracted to females who wishes to become a female is therefore “converted” in orientation if affirmed in desire to transition,and “converted” in gender identity if convinced not to.The same for a male attracted to males,or for a female who wishes to become a male,whether attracted to males or females.


        • Lovely to see you back, Louis.

          It is not that ones gender identity cannot be explored, just, there cannot be a fixed idea in a therapist that it is wrong, or caused by some mental illness.

          Your “Catch 22” is just silly. When someone transitions but remains gynephile, or trixic, their orientation is not changed or “converted”, just one of the words- gay or straight- we use to describe it.


  2. Pingback: Leaked audio confirms Genspect director as anti-trans conversion therapist targeting youth – Health Liberation Now!

All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.