WHO appoints controversial Canadian trans activist to transgender guidelines group
WHO appoints controversial Canadian trans activist to transgender guidelines group

The World Health Organization quietly appointed a controversial University of Alberta law professor and trans activist to a group tasked with helping create transgender health guidelines.

Florence Ashley, whose pronouns are “they, them, that, bitch,” believes puberty blockers ought to be the “default option” for children and that they shouldn’t require mental health screenings prior to undertaking a gender transition.

Before Christmas, the WHO’s gender identity and diversity, equity and inclusion departments, announced the development of “a guideline on the health of trans and gender diverse people.”

“The guideline will focus in five areas: provision of gender-affirming care, including hormones; health workers education and training for the provision of gender-inclusive care; provision of health care for trans and gender diverse people who suffered interpersonal violence based in their needs; health policies that support gender-inclusive care, and legal recognition of self-determined gender identity,” reads a WHO press release.

Along with the new guidelines, the WHO announced the creation of a development group. The group features 21 people, including Ashley and other militant trans activists.

“Members of the (guideline development group) for this guideline were chosen by WHO technical staff among researchers with relevant technical expertise, among end-users (programme managers and health workers) and among representatives of trans and gender diverse community organisations,” notes the organization.

However, Ashley’s appointment was met with criticism online, including from prominent X (formerly Twitter) account Libs of TikTok.

The criticism comes amid Ashley having expressed controversial views on gender, particularly regarding child transitions and puberty blockers. 

In a 2019 article titled Thinking an ethics of gender exploration: Against delaying transition for transgender and gender creative youth, Ashley said that “unbounded social transition and ready access to puberty blockers ought to be treated as the default option.” 

“Youth who take puberty blockers have their options wide open, their bodies unaltered by either testosterone or estrogen,” said Ashley.

While Ashley admits that “much remains unknown about the long-term effects of puberty blockers,” the scholar still supports them – citing some “limited empirical evidence and clinical experience.”

Ashley also argued in an article published in the American Psychological Association that people should be able to obtain medical sex change procedures without having a mental health “gender assessment.” 

“There’s really no evidence that gender assessments work, on the contrary, they are predicated on stereotype considerations, arbitrary considerations and just plainly irrelevant ones,” claimed Ashley in a TikTok video promoting the article.

“Gender assessments are really an unnecessary form of gatekeeping.”

In an email to True North, the WHO said that “all views will be weighed on the composition of the (guideline development group)  as part of the guideline development process which has begun in 2021” and that guidelines “are always based on balancing of available evidence, human rights principles, consideration of harms and benefits and inputs of end users and beneficiaries.”

It added that the development of a guideline on the health of trans and gender diverse people announced in December is “focused on adults only.”

Ashley did not respond to True North’s request for comment, but did take to social media to mock conservative opposition to the appointment.

Ashley previously made headlines for a controversial TikTok video encouraging people to “be gay (and) do crimes.” 

The WHO transgender group will meet in Geneva, Switzerland between Feb. 19 and 21.

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