A woman taking legal action against an NHS gender clinic in London says doctors there should have challenged her false belief that she was a man.
Last month, a High Court judge granted a request for Keira Bell’s case to be heard against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) for children.
The former transsexual and others are arguing that children cannot give informed consent to receiving life-altering puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones.
Speaking to the BBC, Bell, who first expressed confusion about her gender aged 14, said she was prescribed puberty blockers after just three hour-long appointments at GIDS.
She said: “I was on that for a year, and then I continued with it for an extra year along with cross-sex hormones. And then I was on cross-sex hormones for about four-and-a-half years.”
It was during that time she also had her breasts removed.
Initially the changes had felt like a relief, but Keira became “less and less enthusiastic” as time progressed.
“You can choose to continue with that sort of life, and continue to dig yourself deeper into this hole, or you can choose to come out of that and have the weight lifted off of your shoulders, and just live naturally and how you are, truly.”
“It is a life-altering path that you’re going down, and it’s not guaranteed to work.”
She said rather than being ushered down the route of hormonal and surgical change, she “should have been challenged on the proposals, or the claims that I was making for myself. And I think that would have made a big difference as well.”
Asked what she would say to young people who claim they will kill themselves if they don’t transition, Keira’s response is that she felt the same way, but the solution is not to rush into anything.
She said it would be difficult to communicate to her 16-year-old self to warn her, “So I think it’s up to institutions like the Tavistock to step in and make children reconsider what they’re saying.
“Because it is a life-altering path that you’re going down, and it’s not guaranteed to work.”
Now 23, Keira added that she felt angry that no-one had challenged her, and that she was “allowed to run with this idea that I had, almost like a fantasy as a teenager”.