Britain’s High Court has ruled that children under the age of 16 who are considering gender reassignment are not mature enough to give consent to receive puberty-blocking drugs. The ruling comes after a case was brought against the Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust by 23-year-old Keira Bell, who received hormone therapy at one time. Bell filed suit against the Tavistock clinic, UK’s primary gender identity development service for children. The court’s decision will “protect vulnerable young people,” said Bell. She was “delighted to see that common sense has prevailed.” “I wish the judgment had been made before I embarked on the devastating experiment of puberty blockers. My life would be very different today,” she added.
Side effects of puberty-suppressing drugs include abnormal bone and brain development along with sex organ stunting, dysfunction, and potential sterility. In the lawsuit, Bell claimed that the cross-sex hormones permanently damaged her body and could have left her barren. Her attorneys argued that children going through puberty are ill-equipped to give proper consent to such an important decision. “It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers,” the judges agreed in the ruling. “It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers.
“Given the long-term consequences of the clinical interventions at issue in this case, and given that the treatment is as yet innovative and experimental, we recognize that clinicians may well regard these as cases where the authorization of the court should be sought prior to commencing the clinical treatment.” The judges noted that the clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) has prescribed puberty blockers to children as young as 10 who claim to be suffering from gender dysphoria. Physicians have required “the informed consent of those children and young persons to whom such drugs are prescribed,” the judgment reads. “The issue at the heart of this claim is whether informed consent in the legal sense can be given by such children and young persons.”
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust plan to appeal the ruling. The Transgender Trend, an organization made up of parents, professionals, and academics in the UK who are concerned about the current trend to diagnose children as transgender, posted a statement about the case on their website. “This case has shone a light on the worst and most unforgivable result of the institutional capture throughout society by the gender lobby: the medical experiment on children’s healthy bodies, with serious irreversible and lifelong consequences,” the statement said.