Keira Bell has won her legal case against the NHS’s only gender identity development service (GIDS) for under-18s, after the High Court found that children are unlikely to be able to give informed consent for taking puberty-blocking drugs.
As a teenager, Keira began to suffer from gender dysphoria and was referred to GIDS for treatment. She was prescribed puberty blockers aged 16 followed by testosterone at 17. Keira underwent a double mastectomy aged 20, because what else do you do when testosterone gives you an Adam’s apple, facial hair and a deep voice?
Keira has since regretted her transition and no longer identifies as a man, which is why she decided to try to prevent gender clinics steering other vulnerable young women towards irreversible and damaging interventions.
The crux of Keira’s case was that she could not have possibly given informed consent to take the blockers, stating that,
‘I made a brash decision as a teenager, (as a lot of teenagers do) trying to find confidence and happiness, except now the rest of my life will be negatively affected.’
Today, three High Court judges agreed. Their judgment, deferred from October, concludes that it is ‘highly unlikely’ that a child aged 13 or under would ever be able to give informed consent to being treated with puberty blockers. It also states that it is ‘very doubtful’ that children aged 14 and 15 can understand the long-term risks and consequences of treatment in such a way as to have sufficient understanding to give consent.
The court also ruled that it would be appropriate for clinicians to involve the court in cases where there may be any doubt as to whether the long-term interests of a 16- or 17-year-old would be served by the clinical interventions of blockers and hormones.