Julie Bindel Julie Bindel

It’s time to ban puberty blockers for children

Keira Bell

A ground-breaking case in the High Court will decide this week whether the UK’s only gender identity development service (GIDS) for under-18s will be allowed to continue to prescribe puberty blockers for children as young as 10-years-old. The case against the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust, which runs GIDs, is currently conducting its own internal review as a response to the growing controversy surrounding its practice.

Keira Bell, now 23, was prescribed puberty blockers by GIDS when she was 16. Keira went on to use testosterone, before having a double mastectomy when she was 20. She now regrets transitioning, but may well be infertile as a side effect of the drugs she has taken.

Keira is hoping that her case will prevent further medical experimentation on children. ‘Transition was a very temporary, superficial fix for a very complex identity issue,’ she says.

I have interviewed a number of young lesbians who have de-transitioned back to being female during the last couple of years. All have a similar story. These women often experienced serious abuse and harassment and developed feelings of self-hatred as a result of anti-lesbian bullying.

As Keira said: ‘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.’

I have some idea of how Keira came to decide she wanted to change sex. Growing up in a male-dominated environment and attending a school where I was bullied for rejecting boys, I was confused to say the least. I hated wearing a skirt and had zero interest in experimenting with make-up. I had a crush on my best friend, and convinced myself that because I didn’t fancy boys, there was something seriously wrong with me.

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