Debbie Hayton

Why is a ‘trans ally’ GP trying to fight the gender wars?

Why is a 'trans ally' GP trying to fight the gender wars?
Dr Adrian Harrop (Credit: Sky News)
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Dr Adrian Harrop, a 31-year-old GP, has been suspended from practising medicine for a month. Harrop, a so-called trans-ally, had conducted a personal crusade online, supposedly to protect trans rights. But woe betide anyone who happened to disagree with him.

Harrop called one woman who took a different view 'a venomous transphobic bigot'. He said her central aim was to 'demonise trans people' while 'excluding them from public life'. In another message, he wrote: 'Cis people, on the whole, are just awful and there needs to be a massive state-sponsored programme of re-education'.

He condemned women who defend their sex-based rights – 'terfs' (or trans-exclusionary radical feminists), he called them. He said that such people 'dress up their hatred and bigotry towards trans people in a veil of genuine concerns re safety and civil, intellectual debate, but in truth it’s complete nonsense. Terfs hate Trans. Simple as that'.

'I am not transgender myself,' Harrop told the fitness to practise tribunal in a statement, 'but I am a fervent supporter of transgender rights.' How such tirades could possibly help trans people, or advance our rights, beats me. But Harrop was a man on a mission. So convinced was he that he was right, he had the audacity to say that his opponents’ campaigns 'should be brought to an end, by whatever means necessary.'

Fortunately for Harrop, the panel interpreted that to mean only 'legal and legitimate' means. Nevertheless, the tribunal concluded that his 'deplorable behaviour' needed to be marked as 'unacceptable conduct by a medical practitioner,' and determined that his fitness to practise was 'impaired by reason of misconduct.'

Now Harrop must sit on the naughty step for a few weeks. But has Harrop learned his lesson? And what about those patients – in particular female ones – who could soon find themselves face-to-face with a doctor who has made such vicious comments?

An interview Harrop gave to Vice News's Ben Hunte, formerly of the BBC, suggests he sees himself as something of a victim. The whole experience has been 'mortifying', he said. 'Having my personal life, actions, professionalism, and personality debated on a public stage has been horrendous. It’s been humiliating and embarrassing, but I am coming out of this stronger and more determined.' But what about those he sent cruel messages to online?

Harrop should consider himself lucky that his suspension was only for a month. The reality is that this doctor did nothing to advance the cause of trans rights, other than alienate people to the cause. In my view, Harrop has harmed the acceptance of transgender people. 

The UK is an open and accepting place for trans people to live – and many of us thrive here – but there is only so much goodwill to draw upon. Eventually even the most progressive people become exasperated. When, at that point, these purported allies move on to their next campaign, trans people like me will have to pick up the pieces.