In a landmark judgment that will have repercussions around the world the High Court today ruled that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are experimental treatments which cannot be given to children in most cases without application to the court.
We are delighted that the High Court has handed down judgment to protect children from experimental medical interventions with serious known and unknown risks and lifelong consequences.
The judgment concluded that it is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would ever be Gillick competent to give consent to being treated with puberty blockers and very doubtful that children aged 14 and 15 could understand the long-term risks and consequences of treatment in such a way as to have sufficient understanding to give consent.
The court also ruled that it would be appropriate for clinicians to involve the court in any case where there may be any doubt as to whether the long-term interests of a 16 or 17 year-old would be served by the clinical interventions of blockers and hormones.
The judgment is vindication for Sue Evans who instigated the case and first raised concerns at the GIDS over fifteen years ago. It is testament to the courage of the claimants, Mrs. A and Keira Bell who, through her public testimony, has changed history.
In her witness statement, Keira Bell said
“I made a brash decision as a teenager, (as a lot of teenagers do) trying to find confidence and happiness, except now the rest of my life will be negatively affected.”
Through her court action, Keira Bell has ensured that other troubled teenagers will now be protected from the harmful consequences she has had to face.
In a lengthy summing-up of the evidence that was heard in court on October 7th and 8th, the judges reflected many of our concerns about the experimental medical treatment for children with gender dysphoria in the absence of a robust evidence base.
Transgender Trend intervened in this case particularly on the issue of the recent unprecedented rise in the referral rate of teenage girls and the specific cultural context within which the most vulnerable young people are now suddenly adopting a transgender identity. We are delighted that the judgment reflected some of the concerns we raised in our intervention about the failure of the Tavistock GIDS to ground medical intervention in evidence and objective science.
In our intervention, we submitted evidence that the GIDS operates within a core illogicality: a belief that biological sex is irrelevant to being a boy or being a girl, while providing a service that is predicated on the existence of, and ability to define, a ‘boy body’ and a ‘girl body’ that children might move between through medication and subsequent surgery. This is of course an impossibility, but it is an outcome that children are led to believe is possible.
We submitted that the service colludes in beliefs that depend on the rejection of biological facts, giving greater weight to a subjective, self-declared identity over the material fact of biological sex, and operates from within the same culture of unreality that has influenced the young people being referred. On this basis we submitted that the GIDS is not competent to safeguard the bodily autonomy and integrity of adolescents who arrive at the clinic fully conditioned in gender theory and eager for the medical interventions they have been told they need.
The court judgment referenced the fact that in 2011 the gender split was roughly 50/50 between natal girls and boys but by 2019 the sex ratio had changed so that 76 per cent of referrals were females, but that the Tavistock did not put forward any clinical explanation as to why there had been this significant change in the patient group over a relatively short period of time.
This is not surprising: denial of biological sex prevents analysis on the basis of biological sex, including the specific experiences and pressures faced by female adolescents as compared to males. The lack of curiosity at the GIDS is easily explained if children are viewed through the dehumanising lens of ‘gender identity’. This also explains the apparent lack of concern about the serious physical effects of this treatment: if biological sex is irrelevant then future sexual function and fertility must also be unimportant.
The judgment is a damning indictment of clinical practice at the GIDS. The case was decided on facts and evidence known to the Tavistock, and ultimately on the lack of facts and the weakness of the evidence in the Tavistock’s defence. The GIDS lacked even basic data on children who had been given puberty blockers. In the court judgment the judges expressed ‘surprise’ in the following areas:
- In respect of the ages of children treated with puberty blockers between 2011 and 2020, the data has not been collated for each year.
- In respect of the number or proportion of young people referred by GIDS for puberty blockers who had a diagnosis of ASD or any other mental health diagnosis, the data has not been collated and there has been a lack of investigation or analysis.
- In respect of the proportion of those on puberty blockers who progress to cross-sex hormones there is no data available, even for those who commence cross-sex hormones within the GIDS itself. Children were not tracked into adult services.
The GIDS puberty blocker ‘trial’ did not even track outcomes.
The judgment handed down today has established the salient facts about puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones:
- Puberty blockers are not ‘fully reversible’.
- Puberty blockers do not ‘buy time’, they are the first stage of a medical pathway very few children come off.
- There is no evidence that puberty blockers alleviate distress.
- The pathway of blockers and cross-sex hormones has serious physical consequences, including the loss of fertility and full sexual function, with profound long-term risks and consequences.
- The treatment is experimental.
The most damning evidence of complacency in the service is the fact that the GIDS offers troubled adolescents no alternative therapeutic treatment pathway…