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22 Dec, 2020 13:47

NHS gender identity service appeals High Court ban on under-16s accessing puberty blockers

NHS gender identity service appeals High Court ban on under-16s accessing puberty blockers

The UK National Health Service’s (NHS) gender identity service has announced it’s appealing a High Court ruling that bans individuals under the age of 16 from accessing puberty blocking drugs.

The court’s judgement was sparked by a case that was brought against Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust earlier this year after claimants argued that children cannot give legal consent as they are unable to understand the long-term risks and consequences of the use of the drugs. 

The three High Court judge panel initially agreed that “It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent” to the puberty blockers, which pause development in children and teenagers. They are given to individuals who experience gender dysphoria, the feeling that their sex at birth doesn’t match their gender identity.

Following the ruling, transgender individuals under 16 will require their clinician to seek consent from the High Court in order to allow them to begin prescribing puberty blockers. Medical professionals must also be expected to secure guidance from the court if their patients are under the age of 18.

Also on rt.com Trans-identifying children can’t consent to puberty blockers, lawyers argue, in landmark UK case against Tavistock clinic

Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, the only gender identity service in England and Wales, is appealing the court’s judgement alongside the University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust. 

In a sign that the organisations believe their appeal could be successful, the NHS gender identity service has described the situation as a “temporary pause” and issued a statement on its website that seeks to reassure patients that they are working to put provisions in place while they appeal the judgement. 

Mermaids, a UK-based charity that supports transgender kids, young people and their families, has been critical of the court’s decision, stating that “We believe this judgment will be seen by future generations as a moment of betrayal of trans, including non-binary and gender-diverse young people.” The organisation has vowed to fight to overturn the ban.

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