Despite what you may have read, no, an attempt to stop the NHS prescribing puberty blockers hasn’t reached the High Court
This week, multiple national UK media outlets reported that a case against the NHS prescribing puberty blockers to trans teens had reached the High Court.
But a judicial press office confirmed to PinkNews by email on January 23 that “the case hasn’t yet started”.
It has been called “a landmark case” and an “unprecedented legal challenge” that “has reached the High Court”.
But, despite all the articles about it quoting the “claimants” anti-trans views extensively, it’s not actually true.
While two people have applied to the High Court for a judicial review into whether under-16s can be prescribed puberty blockers by doctors, or whether a court should decide if they can be prescribed them on a case-by-case basis, the case did not reach the High Court this week.
That’s because the High Court hasn’t even decided if the case is worth hearing yet.
So, what did happen this week?
The two people – Susan Evans, a former nurse at the Tavistock Centre, the NHS’s gender clinic for under-18’s, and Mrs A, the mother of a trans teen who has autism – want to swap in a third person in the application for judicial review.
The third person, Keira Bell, is a former patient of the Tavistock and will take Susan Evans’ place as one of the two claimants
With the application for judicial review still pending review, it was agreed that Bell’s name could be added to the judicial review application.
A spokesperson for HMCTS, the UK court system, told PinkNews: “The court [has] confirmed that there was a hearing yesterday… it was only to decide the issue of whether a third claimant should be added (granted) and whether the second claimant should be granted anonymity (granted).
“Permission is still yet to be considered, so the case hasn’t yet started.”
This is the second time this month the UK media has jumped the gun on this case.
On January 5, the Observer newspaper reported that the NHS was being sued over “experimental” puberty blockers and the case would be heard in the High Court that week.
In the following three days, all of the major UK national media outlets – The Guardian, BBC, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Times, Sky News, and the UK’s biggest current-affairs radio programme, BBC Radio 4 Today – reported on the story.
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It also spawned hand-wringing comment pieces about whether it’s “morally right” to “experiment” on trans children.
Anti-trans claims – calling puberty blockers “risky” and “experimental”, and questioning whether trans children are “too young” to know what they want – were repeated, unquestioningly, in headline after headline.
But, again, the story was not true. There was no hearing in the High Court that week.
Meanwhile, a landmark, first-of-its-kind study, published in medical journal Pediatrics, has found that puberty blockers are a “life-saving” medical treatment that significantly reduce the likelihood of trans teens attempting to die by suicide.
The study also found that having access to puberty blockers, if they want them, meant trans teens have a much lower short- and long-term risk of mental-health issues.