February 29, 2024

Appeals court overturns landmark gender ruling in UK

A landmark British case about transgender treatment for under-16s has been overturned. The Tavistock Trust, which runs the UK’s only gender identity development service (GIDS) has won an appeal against a 2020 High Court ruling.

Doctors can now judge for themselves whether children under 16 can give informed consent to puberty blockers, without seeking permission from a judge.

The decision from the Court of Appeal reverses the High Court’s decision that under-16s lacked capacity to give informed consent to puberty blockers.

The judges acknowledged “the difficulties and complexities” of the issue, but they said that “it is for the clinicians to exercise their judgement knowing how important it is that consent is properly obtained according to the particular individual circumstances”.

A spokesperson for the Tavistock told the media: “The judgment upholds established legal principles which respect the ability of our clinicians to engage actively and thoughtfully with our patients in decisions about their care and futures. It affirms that it is for doctors, not judges, to decide on the capacity of under-16s to consent to medical treatment.

Keira Bell, a young woman who embarked upon transitioning to a male at the age of 16, was the human face of the case against Tavistock gender clinic. She says that she is very disappointed by the decision and will seek leave to appeal to the supreme court, “A global conversation has begun and has been shaped by this case,” she said. “There is more to be done. It is a fantasy and deeply concerning that any doctor could believe a 10-year-old could consent to the loss of their fertility.”