A UK Court has ruled that children under the age of 16 would likely be found incapable of consenting to puberty blockers using legal standards.
Puberty and hormone blockers, or medications given to delay the onset of puberty, are often give to children who claim to have gender dysphoria. The medications delay the development of secondary sex characteristics, and often has lasting consequences.
The landmark ruling was prompted by a lawsuit against Tavistock Clinic, a gender transitioning clinic which has come under fire for rushing minor and autistic patients through the transitioning process. In 2016, a head Doctor even resigned from the clinic, citing ethics concerns over the fast-tracking of children.
Keira Bell, a young woman who regretted her transition, was the catalyst for the suit against the clinic.
Bell was referred to Tavistock at 16 years old, and was one of thousands of girls aged 10 to 16 who was sent to the clinic to begin the gender transitioning process. At 20 years old, Bell had a double mastectomy -- the permanent removal of both breasts.
Last year, Bell began to 'de-transition,' regretting the young age she'd made the life-altering medical decisions at, and began to speak out against her experiences at the Clinic.
In her lawsuit, Bell was joined by an unnamed mother of a 15-year-old autistic girl. The mother has been trying to prevent her daughter from transitioning, citing her mental incapability of understanding her decision.
In the Court's decision, Justices Lewis and Lievin wrote that all children under the age of 16 would not be capable of understanding the major impact puberty blockers would have on their lives. They stated "It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers," adding that "It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers."
It will obviously be difficult for a child under 16 to understand and weigh up such information. Although a child may understand the concept of the loss of fertility for example, this is not the same as understanding how this will affect their adult life. A child’s attitude to having biological children and their understanding of what this really means, is likely to change between childhood and adulthood. For many children, certainly younger children, and some as young as 10 and just entering puberty, it will not be possible to conceptualise what not being able to give birth to children (or conceive children with their own sperm) would mean in adult life.
Keira Bell said she was 'delighted' with the verdict, one which will require Tavistock to begin immediately reformatting its treatment of children.
READ THE FULL RULING BELOW