Nurse’s legal case argues children cannot consent to gender reassignment

Susan Evans claims NHS trust is prescribing drugs to children ‘as young as nine’

Susan Evans claims NHS trust is prescribing drugs to children ‘as young as nine’

Susan Evans speaking on the This Morning TV programme. Picture: This Morning/ITV

A mental health nurse is taking legal action to stop the NHS prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children wishing to undergo gender reassignment.

Lawyers acting for Susan Evans will lodge papers at the High Court this week in a case against NHS England and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the UK’s only NHS gender identity development service (GIDS).

Nurse questions validity of consent

Ms Evans was formerly employed by the trust as a mental health nurse, where she became concerned that young children were being given treatment without adequate pre-assessment.

Her legal team will argue that the clinic’s provision of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to individuals under the age of 18 is illegal because children and young people under that age cannot give valid consent to such treatment.

The case is also being brought on behalf of Mrs A, the mother of a 15-year-old girl with autism who is on the waiting list for treatment at the service.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Evans claimed the trust was willing to offer puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children as young as nine years of age.

‘The Tavistock will say the effects are fully reversible, but the truth is nobody knows that for sure,’ she said.

Possible consequences of treatment

Ms Evans added that ‘virtually 100%’ of the children who were started on the puberty blocker received cross-sex hormones, ‘which is going to lead to much deeper difficulties in physical terms, perhaps leading to future infertility [and] interfering with sexual functioning.

‘I don’t believe a child of nine or 10 – no matter how clever they are or how mature they seem – can possibly comprehend what their future adult life will be like and also what they are consenting to possibly giving up, or the risks to their health.’ 

A spokesperson for the trust said: ‘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.’

Charity finds legal case ‘deeply concerning’

A spokesperson for gender-diverse and transgender young people’s charity, Mermaids UK, said they were concerned by the court case.

‘We see some truly heartbreaking outcomes when parents refuse to accept that their child is transgender,’ they said.

‘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.’

Denial that clinic is being advised by outside bodies

Ms Evans has accused gender-diverse support groups of having undue influence on what happens at the GIDS clinic.

The Mermaids UK spokesperson said: ‘We have no influence whatsover over decisions made by staff at the clinic.’

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