The Tavistock have suspended new referrals

There’s a ruling in Bell v Tavistock:

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, the high court has ruled.

Even in cases involving teenagers under 18 doctors may need to consult the courts for authorisation for medical intervention, three senior judges have ruled in an action brought against the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust, which runs the UK’s main gender identity development service for children.

An NHS spokesperson welcomed the “clarity” the decision had brought, adding: “The Tavistock have immediately suspended new referrals for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the under 16s, which in future will only be permitted where a court specifically authorises it. Dr Hilary Cass is conducting a wider review on the future of gender identity services.”

The 19-page judgment in effect introduces guidelines for the way in which the London clinic handles young patients who experience gender dysphoria – the condition where they are distressed because of a “mismatch between their perceived identity and … their sex at birth”.

But is that in fact a “condition”? Or is it just a feeling, an idea, a desire, a longing, a persistent mood? Is it a medical “condition” or an existential one? Have the people in charge been a tiny bit hasty in agreeing that it is a medical “condition” that can be treated by opposite-sex hormones?

What does it even mean to talk about a mismatch between one’s “perceived identity” and…pretty much anything? What is “perceived identity”? What is a perceived identity that doesn’t match the facts about the person who claims to have it?

The whole idea is vague enough and questionable enough and recently imposed enough that it seems incredibly reckless to stuff children with cross-sex hormones to “fix” it.

In their decision, Dame Victoria Sharp, president of the Queen’s bench division, Lord Justice Lewis and Mrs Justice Lieven, said a child under the age of 16 may only consent to the use of medication intended to suppress puberty “where he or she is competent to understand the nature of the treatment”.

Such an understanding must include “the immediate and long-term consequences of the treatment, the limited evidence available as to its efficacy or purpose, the fact that the vast majority of patients proceed to the use of cross-sex hormones, and its potential life changing consequences for a child”.

Which is more than most adults seem to have, so how children could have it is anyone’s guess.

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