General News

Appeal against puberty blockers ruling begins

Rachel Badham June 25, 2021

On June 23, the UK Court of Appeal heard arguments against a December 2020 ruling which aimed to prohibit young trans people from accessing puberty blockers. The new regulations came about when Kiera Bell, 23, brought action against the NHS after taking puberty blockers at age 16, before later detransitioning in her early 20s. Many young trans people were left dismayed at the decision. 

The NHS was granted the right to appeal against the ruling in January 2021, and has now made a case to the court, saying the existing system by which young trans people can consent to puberty blockers – which is known as Gillick competence – has been working effectively should be reinstated to allow young trans people access to puberty blockers with medical supervision. 

NHS representative, Fenella Morris, said making trans youth obtain court permission before being allowed to access puberty blockers “adds to the court’s burden” while adding ‘unimaginable stress’ to the families. Morris added: “We say that this established, extensive and powerful system [Gillick competence] ought to be left in place and it’s not appropriate for the court to venture further into it.” A handful of LGBTQ+ organisations are standing with the NHS, including Mermaids, Stonewall and Gendered Intelligence.