LGBT+ charity Salford Pride is opposing a High Court ruling restricting puberty blockers to transgender children

On December 1, a High Court judgement concluded that children under 16 were too young and therefore ‘not competent enough’ to give informed consent to take puberty blockers.

This decision will mean trans children under 16 now have to get approval from a judge and a court order to receive puberty blockers, on top of long waiting lists to see a gender specialist.

The ruling is a result of 23-year-old Keira Bell taking legal action against the NHS Tavistock and Portman gender identity clinic.

Bell was prescribed puberty blockers at 16, and detransitioned a few years later after regretting her decision.

Bell argues that she should’ve been scrutinised more, and now wants to prevent other young people from making the same decision.

Speaking on behalf of Salford Pride, Alfie Austin said: “The ruling is unfair and we completely disagree with it. Puberty blockers are not for everyone, but for those who need them, they can literally be a life saver.

“They are also 100 per cent reversible, and are not available without support from qualified health care professionals.

“With one in four young trans people attempting suicide, and 89 per cent of young trans people thinking about it, it feels that the ruling is regressive for LGBT+ rights in the UK – brought about by a relentless attack from a small minority who disagree that trans people deserve health care and rights.”

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which funds the UK’s only gender identity clinic, had been providing puberty blockers to children as young as 10 who were assessed with having gender dysphoria.

On December 1, NHS England ordered a pause on referring patients for blockers unless they have a court order that deemed it in the child’s best interests.

The Gender Identity Development Service was also ordered to review its current patients under 16 that had been referred.

Those whom it wasn’t deemed in their ‘best interests’, would have their treatment withdrawn.

Speaking on whether children under 16 are too young to make the decision to take blockers, Mr Austin said: “Each case is different, and trans people often cite how they were aware of their own gender identity differing from what they had been told it was.

“This is the same argument that has been used against gay people – ‘you’re too young to know.’

“Young people questioning and exploring their gender know themselves, and should be supported in that.”

The Tavistock and Portman Trust is now seeking permission to appeal against the decision, and non-profit organisation The Good Law Project is crowd funding to build a legal defence fund.

Salford Pride continues to campaign for the rights of trans people and said: “Being part of the wider LGBT+ community, we will continue to fight for the rights of all trans people, including the right to autonomy over their bodies.

“Puberty blockers are a temporary and reversible measure that are used when deemed necessary to a young trans person’s health. We are in full support of the qualified medical professionals, parents and guardians, and the young people who decide that blockers are right for them.”

Salford Pride has a directory of support on its website, including support for LGBT+ youth.

They stated: “If anyone is struggling as to where they can find support, they can always contact us to point them in the right direction.”

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