Britain’s High Court transgender decision could be overturned on appeal

At the start of the month Britain’s High Court handed down a decision in a case looking into how the nation’s doctors prescribe treatments to teenagers experiencing gender incongruence.

The three judge panel said it was “highly unlikely” that a child of 13 or under was “competent to give consent” to receiving puberty blockers, and “doubtful” that children aged 14-15 could “weigh the long-term risks and consequences”.

Following the ruling the country’s National Health Service updated its guidelines for treatment. saying a court order now must be sought before any treatment commences. However the nation’s largest body treating people for gender incongruence has declared it will look to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

The decision came after a case was brought by 23-year-old woman Keira Bell. Bell transitioned as a teenager and began taking puberty blockers at 16. When she was 20 she had gender-affirming surgery. She later reversed her decision and de-transitioned and lived as a woman. She brought her action against the Tavistock Clinic and the NHS Foundation Trust arguing that she had not been adequately informed of the consequences of taking the medication.

“I’m delighted at the judgment of the court today, a judgment that will protect vulnerable people. I wish it had been made for me before I embarked on the devastating experiment of puberty blockers,” Bell told reporters outside the court.

Bell said she would like to see the approach taken by medical professionals change to a methodology where they aimed to get young people to live as the gender they were assigned at birth.

“I would like to personally call on professionals and clinicians to create better mental health services and models to help those dealing with gender dysphoria to reconcile with their sex.”

During the hearing lawyers for the Tavistock Clinic has argued that restricting the prescription of medication would cause anxiety for current patients and their families.

The British clinics, like many facilities around the globe, have seen an increasing number of young people approaching them for treatments and waiting times have blown out to a wait of several years before patients can receive a full consultation.

Despite an increasing number of stories about people detransitioning being reported in the media, studies have shown that only one per cent of people who transition gender later regret it and detransition.

Australia’s Family Court made a ruling in 2017 stating that transgender children no longer needed to apply to the court to undertake medical procedures recommended by their doctors.

Graeme Watson 

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