Liz Truss, the UK’s trade minister, has announced that doctors will soon be banned from prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children younger than 18 in order to protect them from “irreversible” choices. Truss told members of the UK Parliament that the well-being of people younger than 18 was a key principle that would inform her decisions as the government reviews its policy on “gender identity”. “Grown adults should be able to make such decisions as they see fit,” she said, according to the UK Times. “But before the age of 18, when people are still developing their decision-making capabilities, they should be protected from making decisions that are irreversible about their bodies that they could possibly regret in the future.”
Her words come as experimental drugs and surgical procedures performed on young people at England’s lone gender clinic based in London, has been facing great scrutiny from the public and government officials. An ongoing case against the Tavistock clinic alleges that clinicians are not adequately explaining the risks involved with taking irreversible puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones that the clinic prescribes to children suffering from gender dysphoria. Keira Bell, a 23-year-old who once identified as transgender, has filed a lawsuit against staff psychologists at the clinic. Earlier, Britain’s National Health Service set in motion both a review of puberty-blocking drugs and the rules pertaining to when youth are allowed to begin gender-transitioning.
Truss informed the House of Commons that additional protections for female-only spaces, such as changing rooms, women’s refuges, and restrooms were also coming. The issue of sex-segregated facilities has come to the fore as proposals to revise the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) were considered, particularly allowing individuals who self-identify as transgender to change their legal gender without any formal medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The analysis of feedback on the consultation on the GRA, which ended in October 2018, is now complete, Truss said. The U.K.’s move in this direction is happening amid increasing pushback against the medicalization of gender and as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought much of the world to a halt.
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