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Legal Test Case: Children Cannot Consent To “Transgender Treatment”

Nurse launches legal test case with claim children cannot consent to transgender treatment

FROM THE TELEGRAPH, UK

Susan and Marcus Evans, who both worked at the Tavistock Clinic but resigned over concerns regarding how the clinic was giving children with gender dysphoria puberty blockers at such a young age.Susan Evans resigned over concerns regarding how the clinic was giving children with gender dysphoria puberty blockers at such a young age. CREDIT: JULIAN ANDREWS /JULIAN ANDREWS AUSTRALIA 

Children cannot consent to transgender treatment, a nurse bringing a landmark legal case has said, claiming that many are autistic, homosexual or just confused.

Susan Evans, 62, a former psychiatric nurse at the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust, said that “experimental” and “invasive medical treatment” should be prevented in order to protect children.

She is working with a woman known as ‘Mrs A’ the mother of an autistic 15-year-old girl who is on the Gids waiting list

Later this week, the pair will lodge legal papers at the High Court in order to commence proceedings in a judicial review against the trust and NHS England. Their legal team will argue that the provision of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones at the Tavistock for those under 18 is illegal because children cannot give valid consent to the treatment.

However transgender children’s charities have criticised the case, saying that children should not be denied the right to make decisions about their own bodies, simply because they are trans.

Ms Evans told The Telegraph that “some children are referred despite having autism, being homosexual or suffering some form of trauma or sexual abuse”.

She added that sometimes such children are referred for treatment “after only an hour or two”, and that most do not have access to therapy unless they are “very lucky”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today show, the psychiatric nurse also said that children as young as nine or ten are being asked to give informed consent “to a completely experimental treatment for which the long term consequences are not known”.

“No matter how clever or mature they seem, I don’t think a child can possibly comprehend what their future adult life will be like and what they’re consenting to potentially give up or risk to their medical health.”

“These children are not coming forward with a straightforward symptom like a skin rash or something of that nature, they’re coming as people, as individuals, who are confused or distressed and very often have other comorbid aspects.

“For example, 30 per cent plus are autistic, many of them have suffered some form of trauma in their earlier lives. Some of them are just very confused, anxious, or socially anxious children, but I think this sort of rapid affirmation and fast tracking after maybe three, four or five appointments I think is just terrible.

“I really feel it’s got to be questioned in the courts now because we’ve tried to talk to the tavistock as have other staff at the tavistock and it doesn’t work.”

Lawyers acting for Susan Evans, a former, which runs the UK’s only NHS gender identity development service (Gids), and “Mrs A”, will file papers to commence proceedings in a judicial review brought against the trust and NHS England. The papers are expected to be lodged on Wednesday.

According to her crowdfunding page on the CrowdJustice website, Evans raised concerns about the treatment approach of the Tavistock with its clinical management team.

On the CrowdJustice website, Mrs A, the mother of the autistic teenager, said she worried that “no one (let alone my daughter) understands the risks and therefore cannot ensure informed consent is obtained”.

However Lui Asquith, Legal and Policy Manager for the transgender children’s charity, Mermaids said: “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which this country has ratified, states that every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously.

“Our 25 years of experience shows that ignoring gender diverse children causes serious irreparable harm.

“We see some truly heartbreaking outcomes when parents refuse to accept that their child is transgender and it’s deeply concerning that anyone should seek to empower those who want to deny young people the right to make decisions about their own bodies, simply because they’re trans.

“If we lose the voices of children in this conversation around gender identity then we risk losing the children altogether.”

Cara English, Public Engagement Lead at Gendered Intelligence, a charity which aims to increase the understandings of gender diversity, added: “Either a young person can consent to their medical treatment when presented with all known information about that treatment, or they cannot.

“These are highly individualised conversations which cannot be reduced to simple talking points or a reductive rolling back of enshrined rights through the courts. If we were, as a society, to allow for children to be stripped of their agency when choosing what’s right for them, we set off a dangerous domino effects of others deciding what is and isn’t right for all of us.

“If this case is successful in removing Mrs A’s child’s right to consent to medical treatment, the line in the sand is removed: A loss to trans youth is a loss to all.”

A spokesperson for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is not appropriate for us to comment in detail in advance of any proposed legal proceedings.

“The GIDS is one of the longest-established services of its type in the world with an international reputation for being cautious and considered. Our clinical interventions are laid out in nationally-set service specifications. NHS England, monitor our service very closely.

“The service has a high level of reported satisfaction and was rated good by the Care Quality Commission.”

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