Landmark legal case against gender clinic begins today

Legal action to prevent the NHS Gender Identity Development Service prescribing puberty blockers to young people begins at the High Court today.

Keira Bell, 23, was given hormone blockers and cross-sex hormones as a teenager. Having returned to living as female, she now aims to protect others from experiencing the life-altering effects of the drugs.

Lawyers for Bell will argue that children cannot give informed consent to receiving puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones.

‘Irreversible consequences’

Speaking on the Today programme, Bell said the Tavistock and Portman Trust, which runs NHS England’s only gender identity clinic for children, had rushed her into taking the drugs.

She explained that when she told medics of her claim to be male and desire to transition “they affirmed that immediately”.

“There wasn’t any in-depth investigation into my history or anything like that. So I was fairly quickly put on to the medical path.”

It puts you on a path that changes your life forever.

Expressing her regret, she explained: “It puts you on a path that changes your life forever. And when you are a minor you have no chance of understanding how that affects you and your adult life. If we put a stop to this it will allow people to grow naturally.”


Bell first expressed confusion about her gender aged 14 and later had surgery to remove her breasts.

She is now calling for gender dysphoria to be treated through mental health support instead of drugs and surgery.

Concluding her interview, she told presenter Martha Kearney: “Psychological conditions need psychological treatment”.


Bell’s lawyer, Paul Conrathe told the programme that he would be making the case that those “under the age of 18 are unable to give informed consent to an experimental medical treatment that has irreversible life-long consequences”.

Conrathe is also representing the mother of a 16-year-old girl with autism. She is concerned that her daughter, who is currently on the Tavistock waiting list, will be subject to the same treatment Keira Bell received.

The case will be heard at the High Court in London today and tomorrow.

Conversion therapy

Psychotherapists have admitted they are afraid to challenge children who say they want to ‘change sex’, in case they are accused of ‘conversion therapy’.

The Government is considering a ban on the practice. But a former Governor of the Trust at the centre of the court case said “politicisation” of the issue had “interfered with good clinical care”.

Also see:

Ex-trans: ‘NHS should have challenged me over belief I was a boy’

NHS changes guidance on trans drugs to better reflect dangers

Newsnight: Gender clinic ignored staff concerns

Related Resources