Culture

Ex-Trans Woman's Case Against 'Puberty Blockers' for Children Allowed to Go to Trial in UK

London's High Court of Justice, photo credit Bjørn Erik Pedersen.

A legal case claiming that children and minors under 18 are not mature enough to consent to experimental puberty-blocking drugs has been allowed to go to trial. The case involves a nurse, Susan Evans, suing her former employer, Britain’s Tavistock state-funded transgender clinic. It also involves Keira Bell, a 23-year-old woman who underwent experimental so-called puberty blockers after being referred to the clinic at age 16. She claims she was severely harmed by a rushed process to which she was not mature enough to consent.

On Sunday, Britain’s Sunday Times reported that Justice Supperstone, one of the most senior judges on Britain’s highest court, granted permission for a full trial in the divisional court before the end of July. He said it was “plainly arguable” that the first pediatric child gender clinic was not acting lawfully when it referred children to go on experimental hormone agents meant to block puberty.

While Bell’s lawyers will argue that children cannot give consent to such treatments, the clinic’s team will argue that these treatments are necessary to save the lives of minors who identify as the opposite sex.

Bell told the BBC that after being referred to the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at age 16, she had three appointments and was prescribed puberty-blockers. After taking the drugs for a year, she took testosterone, which caused her voice to deepen and hair on her face to grow. She had her breasts amputated three years ago. Last year she decided to quit taking the hormones. She claimed the risks of the drugs were never adequately explained to her and that the rushed process caused her harm.

“I should have been challenged on the proposals or the claims that I was making for myself,” Bell told the BBC. “And I think that would have made a big difference as well. If I was just challenged on the things I was saying.”

“Initially, I felt very relieved and happy about things. But I think as the years go on you start to feel less and less enthusiastic or even happy about things,” she explained. “You can continue and dig yourself deeper into this hole or you can choose to come out of it and have the weight lifted off your shoulders.”

Bell claimed that gender clinics like Tavistock should push back against gender confusion, rather than rushing the process.

“I feel I could say anything to my 16-year-old self and I might not necessarily listen at that time. And that’s the point of this case, when you are that young you don’t really want to listen,” she said. “So I think it’s up to these institutions, like the Tavistock, to step in and make children reconsider what they are saying, because it is a life-altering path.”

The case began this past July, when former GIDS staff psychologist Kirsty Enwistle sent an open letter to Tavistock head Polly Carmichael arguing that a culture of evasive deception existed at the clinic and that medical treatments lacked a robust evidence base. Other clinicians with similar concerns have resigned in protest of Tavistock’s practices.

Just last year, 2,590 children were referred to GIDS, up from just 77 in 2010.

“It’s an experimental treatment,” Evans, the former nurse, told Reuters. “It is described by the Tavistock as fully reversible – but clinical experts outside the Tavistock that I have spoken with suggest that you cannot possibly say that, as it is an experimental treatment.”

Endocrinologist Dr. Michael Laidlaw told PJ Media that these drugs give patients a disease: hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, which occurs when the brain fails to send the right signal to the gonads to make the hormones necessary for development.

While endocrinologists — doctors who specialize in hormones and the endocrine system — are familiar with the disease and gladly treat it when a patient has been diagnosed, many of them are effectively causing their patients to contract the same disease in an attempt to affirm gender identity, Laidlaw said. Those who take the drugs are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and lower bone density. The drugs may also block children’s brain growth and could sterilize them.

Laidlaw insisted that giving these drugs to children is a form of child abuse. “If you have children, they can’t consent because they may not have the intellectual capacity or emotional maturity to understand the consequences of what’s going to happen to them,” he argued. “Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones — they’re going to be infertile. What 11-year-old is ready to have a kid? How would they know what that means? If you want to fully inform a child, you really cannot. Even if you tell the parents, how can the parent decide it? You can’t really do it.”

For these and other reasons, states across the U.S. are considering measures to ban the use of these experimental drugs on children. As more and more people identify as transgender and take the drugs, more are also rejecting their former identities and speaking out. Detransitioner Charlotte Evans has started a network for British former transgender people like her.

As detransitioners realize they have been lied to and have been allowed to do themselves tremendous harm in the name of transgender identity, they are likely to take to the courts in medical malpractice lawsuits. This lawsuit in Britain likely represents the first of many.

[H/T] Brandon Showalter, The Christian Post.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.