Keira Bell, 23 sued Tavistock and Portman NHS for giving her puberty blockers at 16, a decision she later regretted and suffered physical and mental health damage before ‘detransitioning.’
A mother of a 16-year-old autistic girl who intends to change her gender and is on the waiting list for treatment also sued the NHS, the mother known as Mrs. A doesn’t feel her daughter is competent to give consent.
Dame Victoria Sharp in a judgment sitting with Lord Justice Lewis and Mrs. Justice Lieven said that children under 16 needed to understand “the immediate and long-term consequences of the treatment” to be able to consent to the use of puberty blockers.
The judges said children aged 13 and under are: “highly unlikely to be able to give their competent consent for treatment.” The judges also said it was doubtful that 14 and 15-year-olds would understand the long-term risks of gender reassignment treatment.
The judge said for a child to be competent to consent to puberty blockers they would also have to understand the relationship between taking cross-sex hormones and the implications of surgery such as loss of fertility and the impact of cross-sex hormones on sexual function.
Paul Conrathe, Ms. Bell, and Mrs. A’s solicitor said the ruling was “a historic judgment that protects children who suffer from gender dysphoria.”
The landmark ruling would make it more difficult for children to receive puberty blockers.
Following the ruling, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust suspended new referrals for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the under 16’s.
Standing outside the High Court, Keira Bell said that she hoped the judgment marked the end of gender clinics “playing God with our bodies [by] experimenting on the young and vulnerable with untested, harmful drugs”.
Keira Bell also added: “This judgment is not political, it’s about protecting vulnerable children. I’m delighted to see that common sense has prevailed.”