Anti-trans pressure group Transgender Trend has been invited to give evidence in a landmark court battle over transgender teenager’s access to puberty blockers, while LGBT+ charities Stonewall and Mermaids have been blocked from taking part.
The landmark judicial review into whether young trans people can give informed consent to puberty blockers will be heard at the UK’s High Court this week.
Puberty blockers are prescribed to trans teens by specialist gender doctors at the NHS gender clinic for under 18s. The legal challenge is an attempt to force trans teens to go before a judge before being able to access this medical treatment.
Transgender Trend, a UK-based pressure group best known for sending discredited and controversial research packs to school teachers that claims it is better to refuse to affirm the gender of trans children, was granted permission by the judge on 24 August to “intervene” in the case. This will include the lobby group making a written submission and a short oral submission at this week’s hearing.
On the same day, the judge refused permission for Stonewall, the leading LGBT+ charity, and Mermaids, which has supported trans and gender diverse youth and their families for 25 years, from intervening in the case.
Lui Asquith, director of legal and policy at Mermaids, told PinkNews that the court had decided “Mermaids has no additional information to offer, above that which is already being presented”.
“We will follow the case with interest and hope the outcome will strengthen NHS services for transgender, non-binary and gender-questioning children and young people,” Asquith said.
The case is being brought to challenge the approach of the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the NHS’s Tavistock and Portman trust in London.
GIDS provides healthcare to young trans people, which can include puberty-blocking medication for under 16s.
A Stonewall spokesperson said: “It’s important all young people who are questioning their gender identity are able to access high-quality, timely care.
“We applied to provide evidence to the court in the case brought against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust about the consent process for accessing puberty blockers, because we wanted to highlight the impact this case could have on trans children and young people, for many of whom these healthcare services are vital.
“We also wanted the court to understand that many young people and their families who rely on these services already face significant barriers in accessing support, including extremely long waiting times and obstacles to referral.
“While we’re disappointed we haven’t been granted permission to provide evidence in this case, it’s crucial the court recognises and considers the wider implications this case has for not just trans children and young people, but for all young people’s access to healthcare in general, when coming to its decision.”
Puberty blockers delay puberty until a trans teenager is old enough to make decisions about having gender-affirming medical treatment.
A landmark January 2020 study, published in medical journal Pediatrics, found that puberty blockers are a “life-saving” treatment and that if trans teenagers are given access to the medication, their risk of suicide and mental-health problems significantly declines.
Transgender Trend founder Stephanie Davies-Arai said: “Transgender Trend applied to intervene in the case in support of the claimants, Keira Bell, a detransitioned young woman, and Mrs A, the mother of a 15 year-old girl.
“The judge granted permission to Transgender Trend to intervene based on the merits and relevance of the witness statement and evidence we submitted.”
The hearing is due to take place in London on 7-8 October.