Children cannot properly grasp the “life changing” effects of taking puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, as a landmark case in the High Court heard.
Keira Bell, 23, who took puberty blockers when she was 16 before she was "transformed", spoke today of her regrets after making the "brave decision" to undergo treatment.
The Manchester IT worker suffered from gender dysphoria as a teenager. She was also prescribed testosterone, which left her in a deep voice and possibly sterile, and performed a double mastectomy to remove her breasts.
But last year she stopped taking cross sex hormones and found that she had gone under "Wrong Path" accusing the UK's largest gender clinic of failing to conduct a proper psychiatric examination.
She and the mother of a 16-year-old autistic girl who is on the waiting list for such gender identity development (GIDS) services are suing the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.
Their legal challenge is aimed at making it illegal for children who wish to undergo sex reassignment to prescribe hormone blocking drugs without a court ruling that such treatment is in their "best interests".
Keira Bell, 23, who took puberty blockers when she was 16 before she was “transformed”, spoke today of her regrets after making the “brave decision” to undergo treatment (pictured today in the High Court).
The Manchester IT worker suffered from gender dysphoria as a teenager, which prompted her to take testosterone, which left her in a deep voice and possibly sterile, as well as having a double mastectomy
As the court battle opened in London today, Ms. Bell said in a testimony: “I made a bold decision as a teenager, like many teenagers, to find trust and happiness, except now the rest of my life will be negatively affected. & # 39;
She added, "The transition was a very temporary, shallow solution to a very complex identity problem."
Lawyers representing Ms. Bell and the mother known as Ms. A told judges that children "are unable to properly understand the nature and effects of hormone blockers."
They argue that there is "a very high probability" that children who start taking hormone blockers will later start taking cross-sex hormones, which they say will cause "irreversible changes."
The couple's attorney, Jeremy Hyam QC, said, "The use of hormone blockers to combat gender dysphoria has insufficient basis to support this."
The Tavistock Center is being sued under a lawsuit aimed at illegally prescribing children who wish to undergo sex reassignment surgery without an order from the court deciding such treatment. This is in their "best interests".
What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a condition in which someone becomes distressed because they do not feel that their biological gender is the same as the sex they identify as.
For example, someone may feel like a woman and want to live as a woman, but was born with a man's anatomy.
Gender dysphoria is a "recognized disease for which treatment is sometimes appropriate" and "not a mental illness" according to the NHS.
People who live as a gender that is not the same as their biological gender are called transgender.
Some people may opt for hormone therapy – to grow hair or develop breasts, for example – or have reallocation surgery to give them the genitals of a person of the sex they identify as.
Individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria may legally change their gender.
According to the Stonewall charity, up to 1 percent of the population can be transgender – although exact numbers are unknown.
He said that "the effect of hormone blockers on the intensity, duration and outcome of adolescent development is largely unknown," adding, "There is evidence that hormone blockers can have significant side effects, including loss of fertility and sexual function and decreased bone density. & # 39;
In written submissions, Mr. Hyam said, “That children are unable to give informed consent to medical intervention where the evidence base is poor, the risks and possible side effects are still largely unknown and which are likely to put you on a path to permanent and bringing life-changing physical, mental, emotional and developmental consequences … is common sense and the obvious position. & # 39;
The attorney told the court that transfers to GIDS had increased from 97 in 2009 to 2,590 in 2018, "essentially twenty-fold".
Fenella Morris QC, representative for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, said the claim that children cannot consent to be prescribed hormone blockers is "a radical proposition".
In written submissions, she argued that the applicants tried to impose a "blanket exclusion" on children under the age of 18 in order to be able to consent to medical treatment.
Ms. Morris added that the majority of children referred to GIDS between March 2019 and 2020 were over the age of 12, with only 13 of the children referred were under the age of 13.
She accepted that hormone blockers were "experimental" but argued that their use "has been extensively researched and discussed for three decades," adding, "It is a safe and reversible treatment with a well-established history."
The hearing before Dame Victoria Sharp, Mr Justice Lewis and Mrs Justice Lieven is expected to last two days and the court is expected to withhold its judgment for a later date.
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