Gender dysphoria: Keira Bell court ruling should lead to changes in Scotland – Murdo Fraser MSP

Last week’s judgement in the English High Court in the case of Kiera Bell will mean significant changes have to be made to the treatment of children under 16 reporting with gender dysphoria.

The successful legal challenge by Keira Bell against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust on the prescribing of puberty blockers will not affect the Scottish clinic which deals with gender dysphoric children. (Picture: Sam Tobin/PA)

Bell, a 23-year-old from Cambridge, had sued the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, for prescribing puberty blockers to her at a young age, claiming that the clinic should have done more to challenge her decision to transition to a male.

The court agreed with her position, ruling that those under 16 were unlikely to be able to give informed consent to undergoing treatment with puberty-blocking drugs, given their long-term consequences.

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Like many youngsters reporting with gender dysphoria, Ms Bell believed that going through a transition to becoming male would make her happy.

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She was prescribed puberty blockers, put on a course of testosterone, and at the age of 20 had a double mastectomy. She then realised that she had made a serious error, and began to detransition back to being a woman, although some of the treatment she has had will not be reversible.

Speaking after the judgement, Ms Bell said that the judgement was not political, but about protecting vulnerable children.

In response, the NHS in England suspended all new referrals for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the under 16s, which in future will only be permitted where specifically authorised by a court.

The judgement is a victory for all those concerned that children’s lives are being ruined because a political ideology has been put before good science and medicine.

Young people with gender dysphoria have expressed concern that they had been inappropriately pushed down the route of transitioning instead of being challenged, because of a fear of being seen as politically incorrect amongst medical practitioners.

The judgement only applies to England, and so far there has been no indication from the NHS in Scotland how they will respond, although the same issues apply here.

I have asked the Scottish government in a parliamentary question how they intend to address the issue. It would simply be unacceptable if young people here were not to have the same protections as those applicable south of the Border.

Murdo Fraser is a Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife

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