A 2022 survey found that the Bell v Tavistock case negatively affected trans children and their families.

New Report Shows Impact of Bell v Tavistock Case

A newly released survey confirmed that the Bell v Tavistock case negatively impacted trans children’s mental health. The Tavistock and Portman Trust is a Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) commissioned by the NHS England. This is the ONLY NHS service offering gender-affirming healthcare treatment to trans people under the age of 17.

A new report by Mermaids, a UK-based trans and gender diverse youth charity, found that the Bell v Tavistock case negatively affected 9 out of 10 people. 88% reported being moderate to very negatively impacted by the case. While the reasons varied, one that stood out throughout was the feeling of injustice.

The report showed that prolonged legal confusion had a detrimental effect on trans children and their families. Not only did it take a toll on their mental health, but it also undermined their faith in the law and hindered their ability to access gender-affirming care. Many still feel the repercussions of the case.

Bell v Tavistock Case

The Bell v Tavistock case was originally brought by Keira Bell against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Bell had previously taken puberty blockers at age 16 and went through a double mastectomy at age 20. She later decided to de-transition. The case focused on whether trans kids under the age of 18 are able to consent to puberty blocking treatment.

In December 2020, the Bell v Tavistock court case ruling was given. The High Court ruled in Bell’s favour. It decided that young trans people were unlikely to have the capacity to consent to treatment with puberty blockers. As a result, the NHS suspended all referrals from the Tavistock clinic. The referrals ranged from the psychology department at Tavistock to the medical department at UCLH.

Due to this case, young trans people and their parents had to suffer the consequences. If you would like to read our full analysis of the judgement in the case of Bell v Tavistock, visit our website. Trans youths were left in limbo, endlessly waiting to receive life-saving treatment. Fortunately, in September 2021, almost an entire year later, Tavistock’s appeal was successful, and the High Court overturned the ruling. In May of last year, Keira Bell was stopped from taking her final appeal to the court.

Sadly, in July 2022, it was announced that the NHS Tavistock and Portman’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) would be closing in spring 2023. This is apparently to make space for more decentralised gender-affirming care in centres across the UK. Tavistock was the UK’s only gender identity clinic for trans children and adolescents. GenderGP released a statement on the closing of Tavistock. If you would like to read it, it is here on our website.

Access to Gender-Affirming Treatment for All

Puberty blockers are an essential treatment for trans kids and adolescents. While not every trans child will desire to take blockers, the majority do. All trans kids should have the opportunity to take them when needed. The Bell v Tavistock case took away trans children’s bodily autonomy and freedom through its ruling.

Mermaids’ new report confirms that the Bell v Tavistock case had a negative impact on trans children’s mental health. It also stated that due to the case, transphobia in the UK worsened. For most, access to gender-affirming healthcare remains challenging.

Let this be a lesson, trans youth should always have the right to access gender-affirming healthcare, including puberty blockers, without endless waiting!