CNA Staff, Apr 23, 2020 / 13:40 pm
The United Kingdom’s Minister for Women and Equalities has announced plans to prohibit minors from undergoing any permanent procedure intended to change their gender. The policy was announced by the minister, Liz Truss MP, on April 22.
In an appearance before the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, Truss said she was committed to “making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future.”
While Truss said that adults should be free to do what they wish with their bodies, “it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making irreversible decisions.”
The United Kingdom has one gender clinic for children, the “Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS)” which is part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Tavistock, as the clinic is often referred to, has come under increasing public scrutiny because of the skyrocketing number of children, particularly young girls, who are referred for its services.
In the year 2009-2010, a total of 72 children--32 girls and 40 boys--were referred to Tavistock. According to numbers posted on the Tavistock website, by 2018-2019, that figure had grown to 2,590, with 1,740 girls and 624 boys. Of the 2,590 referrals, all but 30 were under the age of 18.
A total of 1,814 were under the age of 16, which is the age of medical consent in U.K. law; 171 were under the age of 10.
In the United Kingdom, a minor is technically permitted to obtain sex reassignment surgery with parental permission, although National Health Service regulations make this is rare. Far more common, however, is the distribution of “puberty blockers” and cross-sex hormone treatments, which cause the body to not develop naturally and to mimic features of the opposite gender. While puberty blockers are claimed by some to be “fully reversible,” some medical experts dispute this assertion.
Tavistock policy allows for patients as young as 11 to receive “puberty blocking” drugs. Prior to 2011, the lower age limit for these drugs was 16.