Children under 16 who want to undergo gender reassignment must now convince a judge they understand the “immediate and long-term consequences” of the process before taking puberty blockers, a landmark ruling said today.
The High Court has decided a child must be able to “understand, retain, and weigh” the factors involved in the process, including the implications of surgery and loss of fertility which may follow in the future.
Three top judges, Dame Victoria Sharp – sitting with Lord Justice Lewis and Mrs Justice Lieven said the courts must weigh up whether the child can go ahead with the treatment, but said it is “very doubtful” 14 and 15-year olds will now be able to give consent and “highly unlikely” 13-year-olds could satisfy the test.
The ruling comes after a legal challenge by Keira Bell, a 23-year-old woman who began taking puberty blockers when she was 16 before “detransitioning”, and the mother of a 16-year-old autistic girl who is currently on the waiting list for treatment.
The case was brought against Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust,
which said it was “disappointed” but immediately suspended such referrals for under-16s.
The NHS said it “welcomed the clarity” the ruling would bring.
One of the claimants, Keira Bell, said she was “delighted” by the judgment.