Leaked chat logs from a community Discord server operated by the gender-critical organization Genspect show that the group leverages fears about transgender youth to organize opposition to transitioning for all adults.
The chats reveal people around the organization using radical language, as well as coordinating with right-wing legislative and political efforts in the U.S., U.K., and across the world that have attempted to stir panic and outrage over transitioning.
Founded as an umbrella organization to “support people with gender dysphoria,” Genspect claims to be a “leading organization that offers an alternative to WPATH,” the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which publishes trans healthcare standards.
Its Discord, which is now invitation-only, paints a different picture.
Genspect is chaired by Irish psychotherapist Stella O’ Malley, who has produced a documentary about transgender youth criticized as transphobic for the U.K.’s Channel 4. She is regularly quoted by leading U.K. newspapers as an expert working with children who have gender dysphoria.
Genspect was founded in June 2021 after O’Malley made connections with a number of other gender-critical counselors in another organization she co-founded, Thoughtful Therapists. Genspect’s team features 14 therapists, doctors, and prominent detransitioners, and its “advisory board” features a roster of other gender-critical figures, such as some who penned a now-retracted paper about Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, and an author of a book about how the “transgender craze” is trying to seduce children.
Genspect’s board of advisors appears to have a great deal of crossover with the Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine, a U.S.-based organization chaired that provides questionable evidence to support anti-transition legislature.
Genspect’s staff, and especially their advisory board members, have appeared as experts in transgender care in publications across the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. It claims to represent thousands of people and 25 organizations.
Alongside other members of Genspect, O’Malley has tried to launder claims not backed up by evidence into Britain’s National Health Service consultations about trans healthcare, including the false claim that social transition and medical interventions do nothing to reduce death by suicide among trans patients.
She has been recorded saying that she believes porn causes children to be trans, and that her goal is to prevent 100% of youth transitions.
But nowhere does this appear on the Genspect website, as the group portrays itself to be a moderate, evidence-based coalition of concerned parents and clinicians. It explicitly state that trans people are not only welcome in their group, but that transition should be permitted.
Genspect hosts conferences with other gender critical figures, and recently launched a think tank, the Killarney Group, to provide guidelines for transgender medical care as an alternative to the research-backed WPATH, accepted by clinicians worldwide as the standard for care.
In 2021, Genspect in tandem with other groups, launched the Gender Exploratory Therapists’ Association (GETA), a roster of therapeutic professionals that claims to “provide thoughtful care without pushing ideological or political agendas.”
On its media page, Genspect offers journalists the opportunity to connect to parents who do not affirm their children’s identity, many of whom are present in the group’s discord and discuss, with displeasure, their children’s choices.
Parents in Genspect were featured last year in a New York Times article that spurred sharp criticism from some of the paper’s employees for platforming transphobia.
These chats were provided to Daily Dot from a source present in the Genspect Discord from the server’s creation. Its Discord server had a total of 791 members join over its two-year existence. It is unclear how many of those people are actively participating or still reading the forum.
Genspect, O’ Malley, and others did not respond to Daily Dot requests for comment.
An anti-trans parents’ group
The Discord server is advertised as a “semi-vetted” community forum for parents and relatives of people with gender dysphoria to share resources about “transgenderism,” a derogatory term adopted by the right for transgender people.
Inside the chat, most conversations take place on the #general channel, with side channels established for different subject regions like the U.S., U.K., New Zealand and Australia, and others.
The conversations revolve around how people can stop their kids from being trans, their theories of what “causes” transness, how to find a conversion therapist, whether trans people are a “cult,” and how being trans is a mental disorder.
Numerous parents share their stories of refusing to affirm their trans children, and how that’s driven a wedge in their relationships.
Despite Genspect’s pledge of accepting trans people, pro-trans voices do not seem present, and no one who considers being trans—even as an adult—a positive outcome is in the chat.
Parents and relatives in the chat openly speak about their disdain for people who transition and the doctors and therapists that support that decision. One parent, when talking to a clinician about their child, asked them “why transition would ever be considered a good outcome,” as it would “result in them being a patient for life.”
“[The clinician] definitely believes in some kids being ‘truly trans,’” the parent said. “She mentioned assessment so many times I wanted to vomit.”
Another parent compared their trans child’s medical care to another scandal in medicine: “Gender docs peddle hope. So did opioids. So did lobotomies. All failed, and all will be remembered as medical scandals.”
“I think part of the trans agenda is to separate the recruits from the family,” one parent speculated. “It is classical cult tactics.”
It even has a channel for parents of trans adults to exchange resources on how to best convince their kids to stop being trans.
“Any idea how to approach your child’s therapist for a full psychological evaluation after said child turns 18?” one parent asked.
This contradicts a number of the statements on their “position” page, where they explicitly say that transphobia is not welcome.
Among the entire two years of chat logs, the Daily Dot only found one conversation where parents disagreed about whether transitioning would be appropriate for adults.
The vice director for Genspect, Alasdair Gunn, chimed in to clarify that their focus on youth transition is purely political strategy.
“None of us would ever recommend transition for anyone,” Gunn said. “The key point here is: eyes on the prize! We have to stop child transitions. On those over 25 we say little, because it’s not in YOUR interests to mention this. We have to break through to the policymakers who are left of center, and the way to do that is to focus relentlessly on the problem of transition for under 25s.”
Members of the Genspect chat openly speak about “groomers” and “pedophiles” affiliated with what they call the “trans cult,” a line of rhetoric plucked from the larger anti-trans movement.
“The real aggressive powers…pulling the strings in the transgender movement are the autogynephilic and pedophilic men,” one parent said. “They are seeing changes in society that suit the pursuit of their fetishes.”
The fear of social contagion has been upgraded to fears about “grooming” or coercing children into being queer, a key narrative of anti-gay movements from the 70s to today.
Some of the members of the group express admiration for Gays Against Groomers and blame school officials for “grooming” children into LGBT identities.
The Anti-Defamation League identifies Gays Against Groomers as one of a number of far-right extremist groups, including Libs of TikTok and the Proud Boys, that coordinate violence against the LGBT community.
A parent posted a link to a speech from a member of Gays Against Groomers, complaining that they’d been blocked on several platforms. “What we are up against … gays against groomers and others banned from PayPal, that still keeps on providing services to pedophile organizations.”
In reply, one parent said, “I like his message and what his group is doing. I wanted to forward it to my daughter’s groomer teachers and principal.”
Another parent replied, “Agree that gays against groomers is doing some really good work.”
In response to news about a new study showing that trans-affirming healthcare saves lives, one parent said “This is just propaganda, isn’t it? Maybe we need a new hashtag. I still use #OkGroomer and #TransLiesMatter.”
Another parent, responding to a photo of a gender identity poster in a school, said “here’s the perfect place for #OkGroomer. All this poster says is that your sex is determined by your hair cut and clothes.”
Coordinating with anti-trans groups
Rather than being a parent’s support group, the chat reveals that staff within Genspect have made efforts to collaborate with political efforts worldwide to block gender-affirming care.
The chats includes requests from Genspect staff for parents to submit evidence to legislative bodies in the U.S. in support of bills blocking transgender care, including in Florida, Texas, and Alabama.
Gunn, who uses the pseudonym Angus Fox, talked about speaking with Quentin van Meter, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group the American College of Pediatrics (ACPeds):
“The endocrinologist Quentin Van Meter sees a difference between the boys and girls he has treated. He said I could quote him on this,” Gunn said.
Unlike the scientific professional body the American Academy of Pediatrics, ACPeds advocates for conversion therapy for all LGBT people and adoption bans for LGBT couples. O’Malley featured an interview with van Meter in her Channel 4 documentary in 2018.
ACPeds launders conservative political talking points as medical consensus, often contradicting the recommendations and evidence from multiple medical bodies.
It also shows direct attempts to fundraise on behalf of, and appear in testimony for, cases brought by the Child and Parental Rights Campaign.
A staff member for Genspect called for detransitioners who would assist the CPRC’s president, attorney Vernadette Broyles, in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to block trans healthcare, and it included her email address.
Both van Meter and Broyles were part of the group that helped South Dakota lawmaker Fred Deutsch workshop anti-trans legislation over 2019-2021, as revealed by Mother Jones.
Van Meter is not on the advisory board for Genspect.
Genspect did not respond to questions about what its relationship was to van Meter or ACPeds.
CPRC did not respond to a request for comment. A phone number and email for ACPeds were both out of service.
Conversion therapy advocates
O’ Malley and Genspect advocate for “exploratory” therapy, which she contrasts with “affirmative” therapy.
O’Malley argues this doesn’t qualify as conversion therapy, as it lacks the physical or sexual violence of more obvious punishments for expressing an LGBT identity.
However, psychotherapy that seeks the “root cause” of an individual’s gender or sexual identity with the goal of changing it has been condemned by the UN as conversion therapy alongside other faith-based or medical interventions.
“Affirmative” therapy already encourages people to explore their gender and sexual identities without a predetermined outcome.
In a deep dive into GETA and Exploratory Therapy, researcher Erin Reed notes that it uses “gaslighting and delay techniques in order to obtain an outcome that is desirable for those ideologically opposed to transition.”
“Desistance from transness is the ultimate goal,” she writes.
Within the group, parents routinely ask for the contact details of “non-affirming” therapists, as well as discuss conversion therapy methods, including complete social and digital isolation, speak constantly about the health risks of affirming care, and repeat conversations where they deny their child’s gender identity.
“We disconnected the smart phone and cut off all internet access. We found a neutral therapist and changed to a ‘classical model’ school,” one parent explained, in a common approach.
Genspect staff and parents advocate for these interventions, despite O’Malley’s apparent admission that psychotherapy as an intervention to “cure” gender dysphoria is ineffective and lacks evidence.
In the chats, one parent pushed back on an inaccurate statistic, saying that Genspect needed to stick to accuracy if they wanted to convince people.
“I think we need to be careful in declaring we’re the ‘evidence-based side,’ as most parents seek psychotherapy for their gender distressed kids and psychotherapy doesn’t have a strong evidence base,” O’Malley replied.
The largest accreditation body in Ireland for counsellors, the IACP, condemned conversion therapy, including so-called reparative therapy, as dangerous and unethical.
O’Malley is accredited under a different body that has issued no such statement.
Genspect did not respond to questions of whether any of this potentially violated its safeguarding policy, which commits that all Genspect staff and volunteers will have the requisite training to recognize and report potential cases of child abuse or neglect to the authorities.
The lead of safeguarding for Genspect is listed as O’Malley.
A variety of conspiracy theories
The group promotes a number of mutually contradictory conspiracy theories, suggesting that people become trans through using Tumblr, watching porn, watching anime, as well as participating in cosplay and sissy hypnosis.
Members of the group openly speculate about the causes and typology of gender dysphoria, claiming that it can only be either a social contagion via the debunked “rapid onset gender dysphoria” syndrome, suppressed homosexuality or the results of autism, ADHD, or a fetish.
In a conversation about sources of transness, one parent said, “I don’t know if you’re aware, but there are literally 1000s of Sissy Hypnosis videos in Youtube.”
In another chat, a member of another support group for parents of trans kids posted the result of a poll showing that 85% of the parents in her group had children who watched anime.
“We are trying to plan another questionnaire to survey non trans identified anime usage to compare,” she wrote.
Gunn responded with an eyes emoji.
These conspiracy theories go beyond the parents and relatives of the group, and are actively promoted by the leaders, including about the supposed medical industrial complex that has been captured by “trans activists.”
In one conversation about ideology, Gunn says, “I’m a huge Bilek fan.” He elaborated, “Gender ideology is only possible if you believe that there is a consciousness which is not just a product of biochemistry, but its own entity.”
Jennifer Bilek, who Gunn cites, is an ecofeminist whose work has been extremely influential in the U.K. gender critical community. She has argued cohort of Jewish billionaires are funding trans-affirming surgery and legislation worldwide as part of a “transhumanist” project to abandon the body entirely.
It’s a bold, unevidenced statement, but the kind that is frequently tossed around Genspect’s Discord.