General News

Appeals against puberty blockers ruling

Rachel Badham December 23, 2020

Medical professional – Dr Adrian Harrop from Liverpool  and GenderGP, a private healthcare provider for trans UK citizens, have both appealed against the recent British court ruling to prevent children under 16 from accessing puberty blockers without legal approval. Dr Harrop, who defended the rights of young trans people, told the BBC: “It makes me terribly worried that there is now nothing there for those children, and nothing that can be done to help them. Parents are being left at a point where they’re having to struggle to cope with these children who are in a real state of distress and anxiety. Sadly, there is a very real risk of seeing more suicides.”

GenderGP added: “The mental health implications of this cannot be underestimated, and the risk of self-harm and suicide must be acknowledged”, and called on NHS England’s medical director for specialist services, James Palmer, to take urgent action. Many parents of young trans people have also spoken out against the new regulations. One mother told the BBC she fears her trans daughter, Emily, “will not make it through” male puberty, saying: “Emily is running out of time. We will have to figure something out, and fast…She’s already so uncomfortable in the body she’s got, and if it becomes more male, she won’t be able to tolerate it.”

When the court ruling was made, Dame Victoria Sharp said: “It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers. It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers”.

However, Theo, a 14-year-old trans boy, said he tried to commit suicide as a result of not being able to access gender-affirming healthcare, and criticised the new legislation: “People think that trans kids are lunatics who have no idea what’s going on in the world. People think trans kids are just handed medication without any questions asked, but that’s not true at all. We have to read a lot, we have to ask questions, we have to fight. We’re forced to be a lot more mature than most kids I know. This ruling is honestly terrifying.”