Test case on child gender treatment The Times 06.01.19

The original article is here.

A landmark test case is to be heard at the High Court this week to decide whether children and teenagers can give informed consent to medical treatment for gender reassignment.

The judicial review is being brought by lawyers acting for Susan Evans, a psychiatric nurse and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, against her former employers, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which runs the UK’s only NHS gender identity development service (Gids), and NHS England.

Her lawyers will argue that the provision of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones at the Tavistock for those under 18 is illegal because children cannot give valid consent to the treatment.

Ms Evans has a crowdfunding page, which has raised £26,700. It says: “The harm they might suffer could have lifelong consequences. Many professionals are now highly concerned about the treatments for under-18 gender dysphoric children and adolescents which remain largely experimental.

“There are so many unanswered questions that include the age at start, reversibility, serious adverse health events, long-term effects on mental health, neurological effects on cognitive functioning, the effect on bone density, circulatory systems and sexual functioning in adulthood.

“We cannot stand by and watch young people be part of an experimental medical treatment that exposes them to very significant risks.”

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor with Sinclairslaw, which is representing Ms Evans and “Mrs A”, the mother of an autistic 15-year-old girl who is on the Gids waiting list, told The Observer: “We are essentially seeking to say that the provision at the Tavistock for young people up to the age of 18 is illegal because there isn’t valid consent.”

Ms Evans said she raised concerns about the approach of the Tavistock with its clinical management team in 2004. Her actions led to an internal inquiry but she said she left the trust as she felt “nothing really changed”.

Mrs A said “no one (let alone my daughter) understands the risks and therefore cannot ensure informed consent is obtained”.

A spokeswoman for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust said: “It is not appropriate for us to comment in detail in advance of any proposed legal proceedings. The Gids is one of the longest-established services of its type in the world, with an international reputation for being cautious and considered. Our clinical interventions are laid out in nationally set service specifications.”