The entitlement of children

The Tavistock ruling has been overturned, as many people predicted.

The court of appeal has overturned a controversial judgment that children under the age of 16 considering gender reassignment are unlikely to be mature enough to give informed consent to be prescribed puberty-blocking drugs.

So we’re back to first do lots of harm because 15-year-olds never get it wrong about what they will want at age 30, 50, 70.

Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust, which runs NHS England’s only gender identity development service (GIDS) for children, challenged a high court ruling last year in a case brought against the service by Keira Bell, a 24-year-old woman who began taking puberty blockers when she was 16 before detransitioning. The other applicant was the unnamed mother of a teenage autistic girl on the waiting list for treatment.

The Tavistock had argued that the high court ruling interfered with the entitlement of children to make decisions for themselves and was based on “partisan expert evidence”.

But of course adults interfere with children’s decisions for themselves all the time. Children aren’t competent to make all decisions for themselves, because they’re children.

Bell said she planned to seek leave to appeal to the supreme court, adding: “A global conversation has begun and has been shaped by this case. 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.”

Cross-sex hormones are only prescribed from the age of 16 and experts say puberty blockers do not cause infertility.

Mrs A, the other claimant alongside Bell, said: “A child experiencing gender distress needs time and support – not to be set on a medical pathway they may later regret.”

Jolyon Maugham is celebrating.

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