A case to decide whether children can give informed consent to medical treatment for gender reassignment begins in the UK’s high court this week.
Lawyers for Susan Evans, a former psychiatric nurse at the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust, which runs the UK’s only NHS gender identity development service (Gids), and “Mrs. A”, the mother of an autistic 15-year-old girl who is on the Gids waiting list, will file papers to commence proceedings in a judicial review brought against the trust and NHS England.
The central portion of this case is the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to young people who wish to transition or are considering doing so.
“We are essentially seeking to say that the provision at the Tavistock for young people up to the age of 18 is illegal because there isn’t valid consent,” said Paul Conrathe, a solicitor with Sinclairslaw, which is representing Evans and the mother.
Providing this treatment – puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones – to any young person who wants them requires, he argues, is “a specific order of the court on a case-by-case basis. [The treatment] cannot be delivered as a matter of general approach”.
NHS England said it would not comment ahead of the hearing. A spokeswoman for the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust said: “It is not appropriate for us to comment in detail in advance of any proposed legal proceedings. The Gids is one of the longest-established services of its type in the world, with an international reputation for being cautious and considered. Our clinical interventions are laid out in nationally set service specifications. NHS England monitors our service very closely. The service has a high level of reported satisfaction and was rated good by the Care Quality Commission.”