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Children can only consent to puberty blockers if they understand the treatment, court rules

CHILDREN who wish to undergo gender reassignment can only consent to puberty blockers if they are able to understand the nature of the treatment, the High Court ruled today.

Keira Bell, a 23-year-old who began taking puberty blockers when she was 16 before detransitioning, brought legal action against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which runs Britain’s only gender identity development service for children.

The legal challenge was also brought by Mrs A, the mother of a 15-year-old autistic girl who is currently on the waiting list for treatment.

At a hearing in October, their lawyers said that children going through puberty are “not capable of properly understanding the nature and effects of hormone blockers.”

Today, the judges said that children under 16 need to understand “the immediate and long-term consequences of the treatment” to be able to consent to the use of puberty blockers.

They said that clinicians should seek “the authorisation of the court prior to commencing treatment” on children. 

The court refused the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust’s application for permission to appeal against the ruling, giving the Trust until December 22 to apply directly to the Court of Appeal.

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