A 23-year-old London girl recently filed a lawsuit against a medical center associated with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) after she was given ‘illegal’ hormone treatment to treat a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Such a disorder, which is treated as a psychiatric diagnosis, involves feeling your emotional and psychological identity as male or female is opposite to your biological sex, causing ongoing emotional distress.
Keira Bell took legal action against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, known as the only clinic that can provide a gender transition service.
Because the clinic took her gender dysphoria case when she was just a teenager, treating her with testosterone and hormone blockers, Bell said she developed severe depression and suicidal thoughts.
“The whole process is really traumatic looking back on it, there’s no going back from it really because you are changed forever visibly,” Bell said, as reported by MetroUk.
According to lawyers for the young woman who now wants to return to her biological sex, children do not have the capacity to consider the impact such treatment might have on their future life, including, for example, her fertility.
Bell said the specialists never took the time to explain every aspect involved in the experimental treatment, pointing out that at age 16, when she was referred to the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), she did not have sufficient judgment to make such a decision.
“I should have been challenged on the proposals or the claims that I was making for myself,” she said. “And I think that would have made a big difference as well. If I was just challenged on the things I was saying,” Bell told the BBC.
While the NHS claims that puberty blockers are reversible, the GIDS acknowledged that the impact of such treatment on brain and psychological health is as yet not fully known.
According to Bell, after a year of treatment with puberty blockers, they began prescribing testosterone, which led to the development of facial hair and a deepening of the voice. She also underwent surgery to remove her breasts.
“Initially I felt very relieved and happy about things, but I think as the years go on you start to feel less and less enthusiastic or even happy about things,” she said.
“You can continue and dig yourself deeper into this hole or you can choose to come out of it and have the weight lifted off your shoulders,” added the 23-year-old, according to the BBC.
Bell’s legal advocates hope to argue in court that children cannot give informed consent for treatment to delay puberty or help them with gender transition.
According to Justice Supperstone, one of the highest ranking judges in the UK’s high court, it is “clearly arguable” that the children’s gender clinic would not have acted legally when it referred children for hormonal agents to stop hormonal development, according to the Times.
Bell is one of the plaintiffs who will be present at the trial expected to take place this summer, the other plaintiff being a woman known only as Mama A, whose daughter with autism is awaiting treatment at the medical center.
Polly Carmichael, director of the Tavistock clinic said the center welcomes the judicial review, but said treating young people with gender dysphoria is a complicated issue, The Christian Post reported.
“This is a really complex area with strong feelings on all sides. And at its center, the young people we work with—they come to us in often really great distress around their sense of themselves.”
According to Christian Post, in February the NHS announced that it was reviewing its regulations regarding allowing children to undergo experimental hormone treatments without parental consent.
It also reported that a group of specialists had been set up to carry out a formal review of puberty blockers.