Yesterday’s ruling by the High Court pertaining to Keira Bell, Ms. A and the Judicial Review of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust is an authoritarian attack on some of the most marginalised and vulnerable young people in the UK. It has been facilitated by a relentless anti-trans narrative peddled by the TERFs that has permeated through all media outlets.
Puberty blockers are now going to be extremely difficult to obtain for trans young people under the age of sixteen. The ruling states that under-13s will definitely not be able to give informed consent and it is unlikely that 14 and 15 year olds will be able to do so as a result of the hormonal changes that happen during puberty. Transgender young people, unless they have the means to bring a case to medical tribunal, are now consigned to undergo a puberty that they categorically do not want. We already know that suicidality is experienced by at least half of all transgender young people, that 80% engage in self-harm and this will be compounded by yesterday’s ruling.
How many more transgender young people have to die? How many more families will bury their children? Why do transgender lives not matter? The TERFs scoff and laugh when these statistics are mentioned and call them “fake”. Who knew that Trumpian behaviour was going to form the cornerstone of radical feminism in the 21st Century?
Keira Bell is a high-profile “de-transitioner”. Bell was prescribed puberty blockers at age sixteen, started taking testosterone in adulthood and had a double mastectomy as a result of formally identifying as a man. Bell ceased transition in 2017 after realising this was not the path she wanted to go down. Bell has every right to live as her authentic self, as do transgender young people, and as a consequence of her experiences will probably need specialist care and support in the medium-term. Bell has seemingly turned to the TERFs for that support and it is unlikely that she will get it. The TERFs have been waging war against the Tavistock for a long time and Bell will be cast aside now she is of no further use to them.
Bell consented to puberty blockers at age sixteen but sought to deny this treatment to younger children. It is baffling that she feels she has the right to take away healthcare options from young people when the ruling would have had no bearing on her case. Ms A. is a parent of a 15-year old transgender child who is currently on the waiting list to receive care from the Tavistock but considering that the waiting lists are approaching two years, the child in question will soon be able to consent anyway. Therefore, this ruling has far more sinister consequences.
Some transgender young people, out of sheer desperation, order hormones from nefarious websites. These sites are not regulated or approved by any healthcare organisation and the people who run them are looking to make a quick buck out of vulnerable young people. Unregulated hormones can have lasting impacts on the body and leave a young person with lifelong health problems. This ruling means that puberty blockers will go down the same route and because the young people wishing to access them are often younger, the damage that could be done to their bodies is potentially catastrophic.
Puberty blockers have been used to treat children experiencing precocious puberty for decades and have a long established history in paediatric medicine. What is going to happen to those children as a result of this ruling? If doctors are reluctant to prescribe, there will be an upswing of cases where six-year-old girls are developing breasts, sex drives and reaching menarche. Precocious puberty robs young children of their childhoods and leads to health complications when they reach adulthood. The TERFs clearly did not think about this possible consequence.
Fundamentally, the most horrific part of this ruling is that it rams a bulldozer through Gillick competency. This is the established legal framework that young people have the right to consent to medical procedures without parental consent. Gillick is the reason young people can access contraception, abortion and mental health services on their own initiative. There are many people out there who have wanted to erode Gillick for as long as it has existed, and this sets a precedent for any group to challenge any aspect of young people’s healthcare. Anti-abortion groups now have grounds to argue young people cannot consent to abortion. Social conservatives have legal grounds to refuse young people access to contraception. Parents who deny their child’s mental health issues now have legal arguments to prevent them having counselling, therapy or psychiatric medication.
Hell has been unleashed upon young people and their autonomy. This is an absolute outrage.
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