Boris Johnson has said teenagers should not be deemed able to consent to drugs with irreversible effects and that parents should be able to input into decision making.
The Prime Minister was being quizzed about the possible exclusion of gender-confused children from the proposed ban on conversion therapy.
He used the opportunity to briefly address puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, trans participation in women’s sport, and whether or not men who identify as women should be permitted to use female-only spaces.
Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think that it’s reasonable for kids to be deemed so-called ‘Gillick competent’ to take decisions about their gender or irreversible treatments that they may have. I think there should be parental involvement at the very least.
“The second thing – I don’t think biological males should be competing in female sporting events. Maybe that’s a controversial thing to say, but it just seems to me to be sensible. And I also happen to think that women should have spaces, whether it’s in hospitals or prisons or changing rooms or wherever, which are dedicated to women.”
He reiterated that none of this means he is not “immensely sympathetic” to those struggling with gender confusion, and that he feels they must be treated with “the maximum possible love and support”, but added: “these are complex issues, and I don’t think they can be solved with one swift, easy piece of legislation”.
However, he remains committed to outlawing ‘conversion therapy’ for those who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual, calling the practice “absolutely abhorrent”.
In a separate interview, Health Secretary Sajid Javid was also asked why transgender children may not be included under the proposed conversion therapy ban.
He claimed it is “absolutely right” for the Government to ban so-called conversion therapy for those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, but for those confused about their gender “we need to be more careful”.
He highlighted the interim report published by Dr Hilary Cass, the senior paediatrician tasked with conducting a review of the NHS’s gender identity services for children. She said that when young people say they have gender dysphoria, it is appropriate for medical experts to be able to question that and determine the cause.
Javid explained that, in some situations, children’s desire to present as the opposite sex may stem from childhood traumas such as sex abuse or bullying. He said “it is right” therefore “to take a much more sensitive approach when it comes to trans”.
The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “It is good to see both Prime Minister and Health Secretary are urging caution over transgender issues.
“Countless vulnerable people have already had their lives changed irreparably by ‘affirmative’ courses of medical intervention, but hopefully many will be spared this if a more sensible approach is adopted.
“Nevertheless, a ban that makes it a criminal offence for Christians to pray with or offer pastoral advice to LGB friends or others in their church is still unacceptable.”