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Tory MSP wants to restrict access to puberty blockers in Scotland following ‘cruel’ High Court ruling

Vic Parsons December 9, 2020
Tory MSP asks for puberty blockers ruling to apply to trans kids in Scotland

Scottish Conservative Finance spokesperson Murdo Fraser on February 6, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser has called on the Scottish government to address the implications of the High Court’s ruling on puberty blockers for young trans people in Scotland.

The Conservative politician for mid Scotland and Fife, who actively opposed equal marriage, wrote in the Scotsman that he had asked the Scottish government “how they intend to address the issue”.

“The judgement is a victory for all those concerned that children’s lives are being ruined because a political ideology has been put before good science and medicine,” Fraser wrote.

“The judgement only applies to England, and so far there has been no indication from the NHS in Scotland how they will respond, although the same issues apply here.

“I have asked the Scottish government in a parliamentary question how they intend to address the issue. It would simply be unacceptable if young people here were not to have the same protections as those applicable south of the border.”

Last week’s ruling, which applies to England and Wales, saw judges decide that transgender under 16’s must be able to understand the nature and implications of not only puberty blockers, but also hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and gender-affirming surgery, before being able to access the medication.

The judges said it is “doubtful” children aged 14 to 15 could understand “the long-term risks and consequences” of taking puberty blockers and then HRT, and “highly unlikely” that children under 13 would be competent to give consent.

As a result, the court said clinicians may “regard these as cases where the authorisation of the court should be sought prior to commencing the clinical treatment”.

The ruling has seen the only youth gender clinic in England and Wales, GIDS, immediately halt referrals for puberty blockers.

NHS Scotland’s youth gender clinic, Sandyford Young People Gender Service, issued a statement saying it would not be reviewing its services for young trans people in the wake of the High Court ruling. It does not accept referrals from England.

A spokesperson for NHS Glasgow and Greater Clyde, which runs Sandyford, said: “The service is staffed by a multi-disciplinary team offering assessment and diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The service works closely with colleagues in paediatric endocrinology services and will refer patients if it is indicated as part of the patient’s care plan and following a full assessment.

“Young people are considered for puberty blockers following a thorough psychological and endocrine assessment as per Scottish clinical guidelines. Anyone who commences puberty blockers continues to receive regular psychological review and support appointments.”

Families of transgender teenagers in England and Wales slammed the High Court ruling as “devastating, discriminatory and cruel“, with their children now unable to access puberty blockers. One 17-year-old girl said the ruling had left her in “unbearable pain“.

The NHS Tavistock and Portman Trust, which runs GIDS, immediately said it would appeal the judgment. Its first application for appeal was refused by the Court of Appeal on Monday (7 December), and the trust is now expected to apply to the Supreme Court.

More: gids, keira bell, murdo fraser, NHS England, nhs scotland, puberty blockers, sandyford, the tavistock, trans healthcare

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