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Puberty blockers challenger Keira Bell wants doctors to ‘help’ trans kids ‘reconcile with their sex’

Vic Parsons December 10, 2020
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Puberty blockers: NHS defends healthcare for young trans people

Keira Bell (right) outside Londons Royal Courts of Justice after winning her judicial review on December 1. (Twitter/Belstaffie)

Keira Bell, the 23-year-old who last week won a landmark judicial review against the NHS prescribing puberty blockers to trans youth, wants doctors to help gender dysphoric young people “reconcile with their sex”.

Bell won her judicial review against the NHS Tavistock and Portman Trust, which runs GIDS, the only gender clinic for trans youth in England and Wales.

The High Court’s ruling means that trans under 16’s in England and Wales are now effectively stopped from taking puberty blockers without the approval of a court.

The age at which trans kids can be given puberty blockers was lowered from 16 to around 11 in 2011, after nearly a decade of consultation with international experts. GIDS has now paused referrals for puberty blockers, leaving trans young people and their parents “devastated”.

But speaking to press outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 1 December, Keira Bell said that “this fight is not yet over”.

She continued: “I would like to personally call on professionals and clinicians to create better mental health services and models to help those dealing with gender dysphoria to reconcile with their sex.”

Convincing gender dysphoric youth to “reconcile” with the sex they were assigned at birth is often referred to as “gender-critical therapy” and sought out by parents who want therapists to convince their children that they are not trans. There is no clinical evidence supporting the benefits of this, but numerous peer reviewed studies show that trans adults who were subjected to conversion therapy as youth have a much higher risk of suicide attempts.

Keira Bell added in her statement to the press on 1 December that she was “delighted” by the ruling and said it would “protect vulnerable young people”.

“I wish it [the ruling] had been made before I embarked on the devastating experiment of puberty blockers,” Bell said. “My life would be very different today.”

Bell, who was a GIDS patient and took puberty blockers at 16 before having gender-affirming surgery at 20, is among the tiny number of people who identify as transgender and later detransition.

“Detransitioner” is the word used for people who undergo some form of transition associated with being transgender – be that socially, like changing their physical appearance and/or pronouns, or medical intervention, like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or gender-affirming surgeries – but later return to identifying as the gender they were assigned at birth.

Multiple studies have found that fewer than one per cent of people who transition gender later regret it and detransition.

Related topics: High Court, JK Rowling, keira bell, puberty blockers, trans healthcare, trans teens

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