Liz Truss, the U.K.'s trade minister, announced Thursday that doctors will soon be banned from prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children who are younger than 18.
In order to protect youth from "irreversible" choices, Truss, who's also the minister for women and equalities, told members of U.K. Parliament that the well-being of people younger than 18 was a key principle that would inform her decisions as the government reviews its policy on "gender identity" — a term used by many people who identify as transgender to describe their sense of themselves as the opposite sex.
“Grown adults should be able to make decisions, to have agency to live life as they see fit,” she said, according to the UK Times. “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.”
Her words come as experimental drugs and surgical procedures performed on young people at The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, England's lone gender clinic based in London, has been facing great scrutiny from the public and government officials.
An ongoing case against the Tavistock clinic alleges that clinicians are not adequately explaining the risks involved with taking irreversible puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones that the clinic prescribes to children suffering from gender dysphoria. Keira Bell, a 23-year-old detransitioner who once identified as transgender, has filed a lawsuit against staff psychologists at the clinic. .
Truss also informed the House of Commons that additional protections for female-only spaces are coming such as changing rooms, women's refuges, and restrooms. The issue of sex-segregated facilities has come to the fore as proposals to revise the 2004 Gender Recognition Act were considered, particularly allowing individuals who self-identify as transgender to change their legal gender marker without any formal medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
The analysis of feedback on the consultation on the GRA, which ended in October 2018, is now complete, Truss said.
The U.K.'s move in this direction is happening amid increasing pushback against the medicalization of gender and as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought much of the world to a halt. Commentators from across the political spectrum have noted the futility of transgender identity politics as nations contend with the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China.
In the United States, Idaho Gov. Brad Little recently signed two bills into law banning trans-identifying biological males from participating in girls' sports and forbidding alterations to sex markers on legal documents such as birth certificates in order to maintain biologically-based vital statistics.
The ACLU is now suing the western state, saying the sports law is not constitutional and amounts to discrimination against trans-identified people.
Last month, the Alabama state Senate voted to ban the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and body-altering gender surgeries on minors. South Dakota attempted to do the same but its bill was voted down by a state Senate committee.