Ten years ago I was in therapy, stricken by anxiety and self-harming. My pain had always been a constant grumble throughout my childhood, but it had now become acute.

David was 43 years old when I met him. Stephanie, my happy wife and father of three teenager children. He also had a PhD in Atomic Physics.

However, my urge to change from male to feminine was so pressing that it was ruining my mental health. Today, my distress is not only impossible to remember but I am able to summon it. The feeling was palpable.

My psychotherapist placed my chair in an open doorway during one of our weekly sessions. She said that this was transition.

After we explored all possible transition options, she said that she wouldn’t move the chair.

Today we have two thoughts.

First, had I not been through that therapy — forcing me painfully to analyse my feelings — today I would be consumed with guilt.

To this day I cannot only remember my own distress, I can actually summon it. It was a palpable feeling, writes Debbie Hayton (pictured)

Today, I am unable to remember my distress but I can summon it. Debbie Hayton (pictured), wrote that it was an intense feeling.

Perhaps I did not fully consider all the possibilities. Perhaps you are asking yourself why I decided to transition.

“Warum did I make my most loved ones suffer so much anxiety?”

The memory of the chair sitting by the doorway reminds of me, thank goodness, of how I lost my identity after starting therapy.

My other thought is more of a concern, a pressing one: proposed Government legislation could make it illegal for therapists, doctors, even parents, to question children — and adults like me — about why they want to change their gender.

Although the Bill is laudable on the surface, it aims to outlaw abhorrent behaviors that have been used in the past to “cure” people who are LGBT.

So, you would think that I’d be thrilled to hear from you. But it’s not.

Thankfully, the memory of that chair sitting in the doorway also reminds me of why I sloughed off my old identity and, a year after I began therapy, became Debbie. Pictured: Maxime in ITV drama Butterfly

It is a pleasant memory to recall the chair that sat in the doorway. This reminds of me why I lost my identity one year ago and became Debbie. Maxime from ITV Drama Butterfly 

It is deeply troubling to me that we rush through legislation with a poor understanding of the implications. This could do more damage than good.

Conversion therapy that involves physical or sexual violence is already illegal — as, of course, such inhumane practices should be. The goal of conversion therapy is to help fill any gaps in the law that may allow others to continue.

No one wishes anyone to be subjected to ‘counselling” that brainwashes or bullies them into thinking they are’straight. Many gay and lesbian couple have been open about their trauma after being converted to Christianity.

However, I am concerned, along with many other experts, that standard exploratory therapy might be banned.

I was able to experience this type of care and that it safeguards adolescents and vulnerable children from rushing into transition, with all its potentially harmful effects for their health.

The implications are also chilling for therapists already worried about working with those with gender dysphoria — the belief that someone’s emotional and psychological identity is at variance with their birth sex — for fear of being accused of transphobia.

Their very real concern is that basic therapeutic analysis — pausing for thought and reflection, and considering contributory factors such as other mental health conditions — will no longer be permitted.

Public consultation on the legislation is now open. However, if you want to reply quickly to this bill, it must be submitted immediately. Conversion Therapy (Prohibition), Bill is only open to public consultation for six weeks. This bill is going through Parliament at twice its normal pace, likely to inhibit scrutiny.

Given the complexity of the issue and the toxic environment in which it occurs, why — in the middle of a pandemic — is it so important for the Government?

I can only assume that Stonewall — the powerful LGBTQ+ organisation that is championing the Bill — is exerting its influence. It’s not just the British Government that holds this power.

Stonewall says that national governments in France, Canada and New Zealand are actively looking at legislation regarding conversion therapy, and launching consultations.

I can only assume that Stonewall — the powerful LGBTQ+ organisation that is championing the Bill — is exerting its influence. And it's not only the British Government where they have sway (stock image)

I can only assume that Stonewall — the powerful LGBTQ+ organisation that is championing the Bill — is exerting its influence. It’s not just the British Government that they control (stock image).

When I made the transition, I was in my mid-twenties. I was middle-aged when I transitioned. I believed that my birth had not been the right one. I also believed that I was a woman who needed to align her body.

Already I had the good fortune of being a father and husband. After a vasectomy, my family was complete. One could argue that I was eating my own cake at the time I became Debbie.

Nine years later and still married to Stephanie, although we sleep separately now, it’s been nine years.

While hormone therapy and gender-reassignment surgery permanently altered my body, my name and wardrobe changed. However, even though I may have ‘changed gender’ I am now aware that I was never female before.

I am just as manly as any man, and my children provide all of the proof I need. But this is not a fashionable view — and when I wore a T-shirt proclaiming ‘Transwomen are Men. You can’t blame me for causing outrage and being accused of transphobia.

Of course, I know others vehemently disagree with me — but it’s a debate we need to have.

Although the proposed Bill would make it legal to enshrine the ambiguous notion of gender identity into law, nobody can explain or prove its existence. On the most basic terms, we cannot agree.

This proposed Bill would enshrine the woolly notion of 'gender identity' into law, yet no one can satisfactorily explain what it means or prove it actually exists. We cannot even seem to agree on basic definitions (file image)

The proposed Bill would codify the fuzzy notion of “gender identity” into law. However, no one is able to explain it or prove that it exists. File image: We don’t even agree on the basic definitions.

Gender identity, to me, is a lame label. An invention that took on an entirely new life. We are being told right now that therapists cannot challenge the ‘gender identity of a person. Children will be the real victims.

When they’re six or seven they may well believe in Father Christmas and the tooth fairy — and some are as young as this when they start questioning their ‘gender identity’.

The new Bill does not appear to include any provision for legitimate therapies. However, it is crucial to note that the words refer to “providing legal support for people who may be questioning whether they are LGBT”.

This would exclude children who say they are transsexual, but it wouldn’t cover them. This is why it does not provide the assurance that therapy tells me I need.

The insistence on not “question gender” is a mistake, as the implications of transitioning to adolescence are enormous.

There has been an alarming increase in the number de-transitioners who were children and were unfaltering about their desires but now regret the irreversible harm they have caused. Children may ask questions in the future about why they weren’t given proper therapy and advice after making such important decisions.

The process of transitioning does not mean that you have to question your sexuality. This involves medical intervention that can have serious implications for your growing body. Some of these consequences cannot be reversed.

Transitioning is not the same as questioning your sexuality. It comes with medical intervention, with serious consequences for growing bodies, some of which cannot be reversed (file image)

The process of transitioning does not mean that you have to question your sexuality. This involves medical intervention that can have serious implications for your growing body.

Although the NHS did not stop referrals of children last year for the use of puberty blocking drugs, following a legal case in which a young girl argued that a clinic should challenge her more about her choice to be a male teenager, the Court of Appeal in September ruled that patients under 16 can consent to receiving the treatments, if they feel competent.

The UK has many organisations that advocate for the use puberty blocking drugs and recommend children and teens to go abroad where they can be prescribed.

The next step then is cross-sex hormones — oestrogen for boys; testosterone for girls. It is not known what long-term effects this will have on fertility and overall health.

So banning any therapy which falls short of affirmation may have the unintended consequence of creating more suffering — especially when studies show that the vast majority of children with gender dysphoria are eventually reconciled with their biological sex.

Gender dysphoria can lead to poor mental health — that was certainly my experience — and we should ensure the same range of treatment and therapy is available for it as for any other issue affecting mental health.

It has seen a surge in young people wanting to transgender. This is due to a perverse notion that transgender people are brave.

There has been an explosion in the number of young people seeking to transition. At the heart of this is, I believe, a perverse sort of idea that it is 'brave' to be transgender (file image)

A surge in young people wishing to change has led to an increase in their number. This is due to a perverse idea (file image).

It is debilitating to suffer from gender dysphoria. Growing up in the 70s and 80s it was considered shameful to be gay. It was considered a sin to be transgender. Thus, it is a blessing that trans people are no longer stigmatized by society.

However, we are moving too far in the other direction. Secondary school teachers are acutely aware of this shift in attitudes. We have gone from stigmatising being LGBTQ+ to celebrating it, as if it confers status — and I do not think that is healthy.

Why would a child want to identify with a homosexual, when so many other interesting and diverse groups are available?

Our sackcloth and ashes society makes us constantly resentful for our mistakes. Being straight, educated, and white makes us oppressors. LGBTQIA is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual, Transgender (Queer, Intersex, Asexual), alphabet soup. It’s one way to escape the oppressor class.

Children are children. Children should not have to be forced into assuming ‘identities. A whole generation has been let down by telling lies to them, telling them boys don’t have the right to grow up into men. It might be a good idea to tell them they don’t need to grow up.

It is strange to think that it was possible for me not to have the possibility of transitioning medically while I was a teenager.

It would not have been possible for me to get pregnant if it had been. Without it, my fertility would be quashed and I would not have the children I cherish.

So let’s consider the ramifications before we allow the Government to wave through a Bill that could have disturbing consequences for years to come — most especially on the young and vulnerable, the very group it seeks to protect.

To have your say go to gov.uk/government/consultations/banning-conversiontherapy by December 10.

Strange as it may seem, I am profoundly grateful that I did not have the opportunity to transition medically as a teenager (file image)

It may not seem like it, but I’m deeply grateful for the fact that I didn’t have the chance to make a transition as a teenager. (file image).