In the Keira Bell case, the NHS trust had no answers

Dec 4, 2020 by

by Dan Hitchens, UnHerd:

Yesterday’s High Court judgement, which set strict limits on how far children can consent to puberty-blockers, was not meant to be a verdict on gender-identity treatment, let alone on the transgender movement. As Keira Bell, who brought the case, said: “This judgment is not political, it’s about protecting vulnerable children.”

Nevertheless, the case has political implications. For years, anyone who raised concerns about gender-identity treatment was shouted down, and told that the experts knew what they were doing. But now those experts have had to present evidence in court: the defendant was the NHS trust responsible for gender-identity treatment, and the judges heard evidence from the country’s leading specialists. And the result is a judgement — from senior judges — that the standard practice was not doing enough to protect children. Moreover, the ruling exposed just how little is understood about these treatments.

For instance: in 2011 the male-female split in those seeking treatment was 50/50. Now, three-quarters are girls uncomfortable with a female identity. That seems worth accounting for; but, according to the judgement, the NHS trust “did not put forward any clinical explanation as to why there had been this significant change.”

What about the numbers who have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder — which some studies suggest could be linked? No, the NHS trust doesn’t collect those statistics either. “Again,” the judges write, “we have found this lack of data analysis — and the apparent lack of investigation of this issue — surprising.”

Were there any examples of children giving consent for PBs, but the doctors concluding that they weren’t really able to consent? You guessed it: the Trust “could not produce any statistics on whether this situation had ever arisen.” How often are PBs a direct pathway to more serious cross-sex hormones? “No precise numbers are available” on that either.

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