Harley Street psychiatrist accused of ‘conversion therapy’ by trans patient
Thousands demonstrate outside Downing Street in a stunning call to ban trans conversion therapy. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
The UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) is investigating a complaint into a Harley Street psychiatrist who has been accused by a trans patient of conversion therapy.
According to the i, the complaint was submitted by an anonymous 18-year-old trans man, who attended a psychiatric assessment with Dr Az Hakeem.
On his website, Hakeem, a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists who has appeared on TV shows like Big Brother and Wife Swap, describes himself as a “gender critical psychiatrist”.
Hakeem offers “specialist psychotherapy for gender dysphoria”, and says that he “does not try and persuade or dissuade anyone from pursuing physical sex interventions such as hormones or surgery but his role is to provide a neutral exploration space to think about sex and gender”.
But in a complaint to the GMC, the anonymous former patient said that he was 17 when he attended an assessment with Hakeem, and alleges that the psychiatrist “invalidated my opinions, then imposed his view of gender”.
“He made it clear from the very start that he was sceptical of my gender and expressed doubt that it could differ to [my] sex,” he explained.
The patient said he was encouraged to see Hakeem by his mother, who did not react well to him coming out as trans, and he agreed to an appointment feeling that “if I didn’t go, I would have been kicked out”, he told the i.
He said that Hakeem compared being trans to imitating a different race, or going through a goth phase as a teenager.
“He suggested that there was little difference between my gender, and his teen goth identity, implying that it might fade equally fast,” the former patient wrote in his complaint.
“He also likened gender-affirming surgeries to race-imitation surgeries.
“He asked me ‘why’ I believed I had gender dysphoria, and would not accept that it’s because I’m trans… He berated me for lacking ‘curiosity’.
“He attempted to ridicule my experience of gender… He requested reasons behind my gender dysphoria so he could attempt to solve it and make me cis.”
The session ended after just 25 minutes, but the former patient said he has had to have therapy to deal with the fall-out from his experience, and has been left with panic attacks.
There is no law against conversion therapy in the UK, despite years of promises from the Conservative government. It was recently announced that a ban would go forward, but that it would not protect transgender people or “consenting adults”.
The GMC, which is conducting initial inquiries into the complaint, does not have a solid rule against conversion therapy.
However, its guidelines tell doctors: “You must not express your personal beliefs (including political, religious and moral beliefs) to patients in ways that exploit their vulnerability or are likely to cause them distress.” The NHS, GMC, and Royal College of Psychiatrists have all publicly condemned conversion therapy.
GMC medical director Colin Melville told the i that the debunked practice was “inherently harmful and coercive and therefore a clear breach of the standards we expect of all doctors registered in the UK”.
Hakeem told the publication in a statement: “I am unable to comment on any specific cases due to patient confidentiality; however I always strive to provide a neutral thinking space for my patients rather than impose any outcome on them.”
In an interview last year with the anti-trans lobby group Transgender Trend, the psychiatrist called trans rights activists “trans terrorists”, and described group therapy sessions he had run for people with gender dysphoria.
“I typically found that after anything from six to 12 months in the group the initial gender dysphoria had been completely resolved,” he wrote.
Dr Az Hakeem has been approached by PinkNews for comment.