General News

Update: court ruling to limit access to puberty blockers ‘a terrible blow’ to trans youth

Rachel Badham December 12, 2020

A new ruling from the British high court means trans people under 16 will require legal approval before accessing puberty blockers, causing nationwide dismay for trans youth, many of whom have spoken out about the impact of the court’s decision. Following the ruling, an NHS spokesperson said: “The Tavistock Centre [which houses the Gender Identity Development Services] have immediately suspended new referrals for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the under 16s, which in future will only be permitted where a court specifically authorises it.”

I News discussed the recent development with families of young trans people in the UK. One parent said they are concerned their trans daughter, Emily, will take her life if she is denied access to gender-affirming healthcare, saying: “Emily was about to be referred to endocrinology after being under GIDS for three years. Her body is changing, a body she already struggles to live in, so her now not getting to access blockers is a terrible blow. Without access to blockers I don’t think she will make it through the next few years.”

Grayson, a 15-year-old trans man, said receiving puberty blockers was ‘lifesaving’: “I’d dropped out of school because I was finding it so hard. When I took the blockers, I stopped being homeschooling, and made friends. People seem to forget that I want to do normal stuff like hang out with my friends, play basketball and sit my GCSEs. When I got the blockers I thought, I can get on with my life now.” He criticised the court’s decision, saying: “No other child has to think about their fertility or their future like we do. It’s an utter insult to say we don’t know what we’re signing up for.”

Many LGBTQ+ social media users have also spoken out against the court ruling, on the basis it will have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of thousands of young trans people. One Twitter user wrote: “The entire point of puberty blockers is to delay puberty so that a child isn’t forced to make serious decisions about irreversible changes they may not be equipped to deal with, and buy time to weigh the consequences,” and another tweeted: “We can’t forgive the UK government for this.” A tweet reading: “Retweet if you’re a trans adult whose life would have been improved by access to puberty blockers as a teen” was retweeted over 2,000 times.