Legal action against NHS England by a teenager awaiting treatment at its only gender identity clinic for children has been described as ‘costly’ and ‘unhelpful’.
The 14-year-old known as “Reece”, who is living as if she were a boy, has been waiting for an initial assessment at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) for over a year.
In October, the High Court heard lawyers for detransitioner Keira Bell argue that GIDS should be prevented from prescribing puberty blockers to young people. A review is under way.
Responding to this new legal action, an NHS England spokesperson explained that demand for the clinic’s services had increased by more than 500 per cent since 2013.
The spokesperson said: “The NHS has already asked Dr Hilary Cass to carry out an independent review including how and when children and young people are referred to specialist services”.
“Legal action against the NHS will only cost taxpayers’ money and not help the actions already under way,” they added.
Speaking to the BBC, one unnamed psychotherapist said she believed the long waiting times could be “a positive”.
The numbers of referrals are so huge that I believe this is a social problem caused by miseducation
She suggested: “Having to wait a few years for initial treatment may benefit some young people who question their gender, as they will become more mature and more knowledgeable about their identity.”
Bev Jackson, of the trans critical group LGB Alliance, said that it was time to step back and ask “why are so many young people presenting at the clinic for a gender treatment?”
She also said: “The numbers of referrals are so huge that I believe this is a social problem caused by miseducation.”
Detransitioner Kiera Bell, 23, who is awaiting the result of her own case, was given hormone blockers and cross-sex hormones as a teenager. She now regrets her treatment and said the clinic had rushed her into taking the drugs.
It puts you on a path that changes your life forever
Speaking on the Today programme earlier this year, Bell said: “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.”
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.”