Major Win as UK Appeal Court Overturns Bell v Tavistock

London-- The Endocrinology Society applauded the decision by the Appeal Court to overturn the High court’s December 2020 ruling in Bell v Tavistock and Portman NHS Health Foundation. 

The ruling preserves access to medical treatment for transgender and gender diverse teenagers and protects the ability of physicians, not the courts, to determine the capacity of a person under 16 to consent to medical treatment. 

The Endocrine Society and a coalition of LGBTQ+ youth and reproductive health organizations argued in a joint submission to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales that transgender teenagers should be able to give informed consent to treatment the same way teenagers with other medical conditions can. 

 “We are pleased the court agreed that the rules governing consent must be applied the same way to transgender and gender diverse adolescents as they are to other adolescents who are making decisions about medical care,” said Sabine Hannema, M.D., Ph.D., a paediatric endocrinologist at Amsterdam UMC in the Netherlands, a co-author of the Society’s Clinical Practice Guideline on Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons and a co-author of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health statement responding to the Bell v Tavistock ruling. 

 “We hope this ruling will set a precedent protecting access to care for transgender teenagers in the United Kingdom and in other countries,” Hannema said. 

Mermaids statement on the appeal of the Bell v Tavistock Ruling

"Mermaids and most importantly the trans young people and their families that we represent are relieved that the Court of Appeal has today (Friday 17 September 2021) overturned the High Court’s decision from December 2020 that effectively barred trans young people from accessing life-saving medical treatment on the NHS unless they had a court order. The decision today has reinstated the test of Gillick and re-emphasised that it is for the clinician together with the patient and the family to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. It was not for the court to make generalisations about consent at different ages, nor should the court be routinely part of the consent process for puberty blockers."

In May a Judge in Northern Ireland ruled that a 16-year-old transgender girl did not require court intervention to get transgender affirming medical care.

The High court ruling was used as a rationale in numerous bills filed in the US this year. While Arkansas was the only state to make it a felony to prescribe hormone blockers to minors 18 other states have tried.

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