Parental consent can be given, but more must be done
News that trans youth can now access puberty blockers on the NHS with parental consent will come as a huge relief to so many left high and dry by the NHS following the December ruling in the Bell and Mrs A v Tavistock case. But there is a huge mountain still to climb for trans people to access timely, affirmative public healthcare in the UK.
We are delighted to learn that the parental consent case undertaken by the Good Law Project has been successful, meaning that vital care can now be provided to trans youth. The ruling now states that “If a child cannot consent to taking puberty blockers their loving parent can consent in their stead.”
Prior to this, the reaction of the NHS to the December ruling, was to put in place the requirement for court approval, in order for anyone under the age of 17 to be able to access treatment – despite well-documented evidence in support of gender-affirming care.
This latest development is an important step for trans youth but it does not go far enough. Waiting lists continue to stretch into years and no care provision is afforded to those without parental consent.
At GenderGP we have always encouraged parental involvement as we recognise how helpful it is for younger gender diverse people to have a robust support network in place. However, in those cases where parental consent is not available we continue to follow the principles of Gillick Competency because we believe that no young person should have to go through an unwanted puberty because of a lack of support.
It is no secret that the trans community has struggled for many years to be heard. At GenderGP we have been campaigning tirelessly for change for the past six years, but this is not a battle that will be won by a handful of voices. As such it is encouraging to see organisations such as the Good Law Project coming forward to provide another, much needed, authoritative voice on the vital importance of this care.
Although social transition, support and acceptance of a young person’s gender identity is vital, we must not underestimate the physical relief that blockers provide. This latest development will give supported youngsters the opportunity to put puberty on hold and prevent those life-changing developments that are so feared by trans youth.
The UK must work towards providing security and reassurance for healthcare professionals, working with trans youth, that they can – and should – do what is in the best interests of their patient without fear of legal or regulatory action.
The speed at which this amendment has been introduced provides an indication that the action taken by the Gender Identity Research and Development Services – GIDS – was a harmful, knee-jerk reaction on the part of the NHS to stop care to this patient group – a step which caused untold harm to so many.
At GenderGP we have continued to support those individuals who were close to accessing puberty blockers but were turned away following the ruling. Some of the stories we heard were so devastating that we launched a Fund to support those who otherwise would struggle to access private care in the UK.
The Good Law Project continues its campaign to reverse the barriers to accessing prescriptions for puberty blockers and in the meantime GenderGP stands ready to support anyone in need, with access to compassionate, timely care as well as continuing to educate those who need it on the benefits of gender-affirming care for trans people of all ages.
To donate to the fund please visit our donations page.