The ideologically-driven experimentation on children by gender clinics is the medical scandal of our age, with its long-term consequences yet to unfold.

The review by Dr Hilary Cass of NHS youth gender identity services has laid bare the irreversible damage inflicted on vulnerable youngsters by a medical establishment captured by the trans activist lobby and allowed to perpetrate its dangerous acts in a culture of condonement.

So toxic is the transgender debate that even questioning the routine practice of giving children unevidenced treatment such as puberty blockers was labelled transphobic.

Those, usually women, who dared raise fears over trans issues have been treated as pariahs or intimidated into silence by a “progressive” consensus that sucked in newspapers, publishers, teachers, doctors and, of course, politicians.

Today, thanks to Cass, there is much backtracking among the latter, who suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of history and newly aware that blind endorsement of radical trans dogma is not such a good look with an election looming.

Preparing for government, the Labour party, which has been so complicit in the hounding of gender-critical women, is belatedly heeding the public mood to prioritise the protection of children over fashionable orthodoxies.

Labour has long had a problem with women, as one of its own MPs, Rosie Duffield, has found. For standing by her feminist principles, Duffield has been blanked, sidelined, dismissed by male leaders, and even frightened away from the Labour party conference in 2021.

The MP for Canterbury received death threats for her gender-critical beliefs, was heckled by fellow Labour MPs during a debate in the Commons on self-ID in Scotland, and last year was placed under investigation by her party for campaigning against gender ideology.

Little wonder that Duffield was circumspect about shadow health secretary Wes Streeting’s about turn on the subject.

But at least Streeting, who once worked for the controversial LGBT rights group Stonewall and was firmly in the camp that believes sex is not immutable, has admitted he was wrong to say: “Trans men are men, trans women are women. Get over it.”

“How is it that clinicians have been silenced or afraid to come forward?” he asked this week in the wake of Cass, apparently forgetting his party’s policy of silencing gender-critical voices.

“Children’s healthcare should always be led by evidence and children’s welfare, free from culture wars,” he said, overlooking Labour’s role in perpetuating those culture wars.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, too, who in the past refused to be drawn into discussions of what a woman is, has at last seen the light. She conceded this week that the Cass report is “very troubling” and agrees with Streeting that Labour will implement its recommendations.

But where is their leader in all this? So far, there has been no word from Sir Keir Starmer on Cass, an extraordinary omission when the wellbeing of our children is at stake.

Either the likely next prime minister feels this is a matter best left to his shadow front bench or he is working on a response that will offend no one.

This suggests a cowardly streak unbecoming in a future premier but one that has characterised Starmer’s approach to the gender debate.

He has miserably failed to support Duffield, who said back in December that she has received no apology from him on the party’s behalf and that he does not even speak to her.

Last July, Starmer, a notorious flip-flopper on gender, U-turned twice, first changing his party’s policy on self-identification and then accepting, after years of confusion, the dictionary definition of a woman as an “adult female”.

Apparently spooked by the uproar in Scotland following Nicola Sturgeon’s disastrous gender recognition legislation, Labour changed its stance to back a medical diagnosis for those wishing to transition.

But the party is still planning to reform the Gender Recognition Act to make social transitioning easier, something the Cass review warns against.

How seriously does the Labour leader regard women’s rights and the safeguarding of girls?

We need to know before we go to the polls because there are senior members of Starmer’s team who remain transgender zealots.

His deputy Angela Rayner, for instance, reportedly still backs a charter she signed in 2020 describing feminist organisations that raised concerns about the treatment of trans children as “hate groups”.

This is exactly the poisonous backdrop that has so hampered the care of young people with complex health problems.

Cass said there were “few other areas of healthcare where professionals are so afraid to openly discuss their views, where people are vilified on social media, and where name-calling echoes the worst bullying behaviour”.

Can Starmer summon the courage to acknowledge Labour’s part in creating this climate of fear and, even if he can’t control his die-hards, set Labour on the path of common sense?

Although he is en route to Number 10, with polls pointing to a Labour landslide, there are no signs that he has found his moral compass. 

Cass has brought sharpened focus to the most important social issue of the times and, as our future PM, Starmer must be put on the spot and made to explain why he believes what he believes. If he believes in anything at all.

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