Giving powerful drugs to children who are confused about their gender puts them on a “torturous” path, a former transsexual has warned as she joined a major legal action against the NHS.
Keira Bell was given hormone blockers and cross-sex hormones when she was a teenager, but has now returned to living as a woman.
She says: “I do not believe that children and young people can consent to the use of powerful and experimental hormone drugs like I did.”
Susan Evans, a former psychiatric nurse, launched the challenge, accusing the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) of rushing decisions.
Evans, a former employee, brought the case to the High Court alongside the mother of a 15-year-old autistic girl who is waiting for hormones from the clinic.
Now Bell has joined the action, and speaking after a hearing explained her deep misgivings about the situation.
“I believe that the current affirmative system put in place by the Tavistock is inadequate as it does not allow for exploration of these gender dysphoric feelings, nor does it seek to find the underlying causes of this condition.
She added that drugs and surgery “certainly should not be offered to someone under the age of 18 when they are emotionally and mentally vulnerable”.
“The treatment urgently needs to change so that it does not put young people, like me, on a torturous and unnecessary path that is permanent and life-changing”, she said.
Speaking to the Today programme earlier this month, Evans explained how she was uneasy about the drugs being given to 16-year-olds.
“But now the age limit has been lowered and children as young as perhaps nine or ten are being asked to give informed consent to a completely experimental treatment for which the long-term consequences are not known”.
She also pointed out that, without medical intervention, the large majority of children “convinced they are the other sex” come to accept the body they were born with.
In the past three years, around 35 clinicians have resigned from the clinic.