Tavistock gender clinic trial date set; trans-activist groups Mermaids, Stonewall UK banned

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust building in London, England.
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust building in London, England. | YouTube/Sky News

A judicial review date has been set in the U.K. regarding a lawsuit against a London-based gender clinic's medicalized gender-transitioning of children and teenagers.

Amid rising concern that children are being rushed into experimental gender-transitioning treatments that include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and body-altering surgeries, the effects of which are permanent, a trial date for the suit against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has been set for Oct. 7-8.

The lawsuit was brought in part by Susan Evans, a psychiatric nurse and former member of the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) for children at the Tavistock clinic. Evans has voiced repeated concerns that the safety of children being treated at the facility was disregarded in favor of experimental transitioning, and that minors are not cognitively capable of giving informed consent.

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Keira Bell, a young woman who once identified as transgender, joined the suit as a claimant in January. Bell says she wasn't adequately informed of the dangers when she was hormonally transitioned as a teenager. She now regrets her transition, which included both hormones and a mastectomy, and is among the growing number of men and women known as "detransitioners" who say they were physically, mentally and emotionally harmed.

Bell told the Telegraph in March that treatments need to change so that young people like her are not put on a "torturous and unnecessary path that is permanent and life changing."

"Hormone changing drugs and surgery does not work for everyone and it certainly should not be offered to someone under the age of 18 when they are emotionally and mentally vulnerable," she added.

Evans said in a Sept. 7 update on her CrowdJustice fundraising page: "It is simply inconceivable that a 15-year-old (and even younger children and teenagers), would have the necessary maturity to fully understand what they were doing in consenting to medical transition. We have also raised serious concerns that the clinical guidelines that are currently followed, have been shaped by activism, rather than science and medical evidence."

She further explained that TransgenderTrend, a trans-critical group that has been documenting the soaring numbers of young people being referred to gender clinics and other information related to gender identity policies, will be "allowed to participate" in the trial as will a transgender-identifying 13-year-old.

By contrast, transgender activist groups Mermaids and Stonewall UK have been denied permission to get involved and will not present evidence in the case.

The Tavistock clinic has come under increased scrutiny in recent years following a 4,000-fold increase of girls being referred to the gender clinic in the past decade.

The subject received renewed attention this summer after Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling spoke out several times on the issue and the implications of transgender policies more broadly. Rowling said she believed radical transgender activism imperils women's sex-based rights, that a medical scandal was about to erupt, and that gender-transitioning is akin to so-called "gay conversion therapy." 

Earlier this summer, the National Health Service quietly removed language from its transgender guidance on its website that had asserted that puberty blockers were "fully reversible." 

A BBC Newsnight investigative report in June revealed leaked documents that showed Tavistock staff saying that concerns about patient welfare were shut down. Clinicians there also reportedly expressed concerns that some youth were being fast-tracked into gender-transitioning.

In February, a formal review of the safety of puberty-blocking drugs was set in motion as was a review of the rules surrounding when minors are allowed to decide whether they want to explore gender-transition without first obtaining parental consent. 

U.K. Trade Minister Liz Truss said earlier this year that new policies would be coming regarding the medicalization of gender as it pertains to minors in addition to protections for female-only spaces such as changing rooms, women's refuges, and restrooms.

“Grown adults should be able to make decisions, to have agency to live life as they see fit,” she said in April. “But before the age of 18, when people are still developing their decision-making capabilities, they should be protected from making decisions that are irreversible about their bodies that they could possibly regret in the future.”

Such revised policies on both subjects were expected this summer but have yet to be announced.

The issue of sex-segregated facilities rose to the fore as proposals to revise the 2004 Gender Recognition Act were considered, especially the permitting of individuals who self-identify as transgender to change their sex marker on legal documents without any formal diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

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