Protect gender dysphoric children from experimental treatment

by Keira Bell

Protect gender dysphoric children from experimental treatment

by Keira Bell
Keira Bell
Case Owner
I'm an ex patient of Gender Identity Clinics where I was prescribed dangerous, experimental drugs and received a double mastectomy procedure. I am fighting to stop this from happening to minors.
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Keira Bell
Case Owner
I'm an ex patient of Gender Identity Clinics where I was prescribed dangerous, experimental drugs and received a double mastectomy procedure. I am fighting to stop this from happening to minors.
Pledge now

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Latest: April 22, 2021


As the date of the appeal (23/24 June) draws closer, the amount of work that has to be undertaken by the legal team is ramping up. My legal team is having to deal with legal submissions from 7 interv…

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This case was brought to challenge the idea that under 18's can give informed consent to "hormone blockers" (GnRHa's) - an experimental treatment that has harmful and unknown effects, but is prescribed to minors who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria through the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS).

High Court Judgement

On 1st Dec 2020 three judges at the High Court including Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen's Bench Division ruled in favour of our case. Read the judgement here. The judgement upheld Gillick competence, where it was apparently not being applied before.

"The conclusion we have reached is that it is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would ever be Gillick competent to give consent to being treated with PBs. In respect of children aged 14 and 15, we are also very doubtful that a child of this age could understand the long-term risks and consequences of treatment in such a way as to have sufficient understanding to give consent."

"We consider that it would be appropriate for clinicians to involve the court in any case where there may be any doubt as to whether the long-term best interests of a 16 or 17 year old would be served by the clinical interventions at issue in this case." ... "We express that view for these reasons. First, the clinical interventions involve significant, long-term and, in part, potentially irreversible long-term physical, and psychological consequences for young persons. The treatment involved is truly life changing, going as it does to the very heart of an individual’s identity. Secondly, at present, it is right to call the treatment experimental or innovative in the sense that there are currently limited studies/evidence of the efficacy or long-term effects of the treatment."

The judgment of the Court seeks to protect children and young people from an experimental treatment. The Court noted 

…..” the combination here of lifelong and life changing treatment being given to children, with very limited knowledge of the degree to which it will or will not benefit them, is one that gives significant grounds for concern.”

And that …

“Apart perhaps from life-saving treatment, there will be no more profound medical decisions for children than whether to start on this treatment pathway.”

In summary, the effect of the Judgement is that puberty blockers cannot be given to most children under the age of 16 without an order of the court and that if there is any doubt for 16 and 17 year olds then the doctors should make a similar application

During the course of its judgement the Court frequently noted with surprise the lack of basic data which should inform effective management of clinical practice.

The Court stated that the Tavistock’s view that providing puberty blockers was a stand alone treatment did not reflect reality. It was part of a more serious medical pathway towards lifelong irreversible treatment. The Court also found that the Tavistock was providing treatment on the basis of a false assumption by believing that if they gave children lots of information and discussed it often enough then they could provide valid informed consent. There were enormous difficulties for children under the age of 16 years old to understand what the loss of fertility would mean for them as well as the resulting sexual dysfunction as an adult.

Ultimately this case was decided on the facts that were known by the Tavistock. Ironically (and as matter of serious concern) despite its international reputation for mental health work this judgment powerfully shows that a culture of unreality has become embedded in the Tavistock. This may have led to hundreds of children receiving this experimental treatment without their properly informed consent.

One day after the judgement on 2nd December 2020, Tavistock GIDS finally released a hormone blocker study which had been promised in 2017. It showed that blockers reduced the growth of height and bone density below normal, that it brought no improvement in psychological function and that 43/44 participants (98%) went on to take cross-sex hormones. The BBC covered it here.

Next Steps

Despite the very clear unanimous judgment of the Court the Tavistock has not accepted that its practice is unlawful and has requested an appeal. In order to be able to appeal the Tavistock needs permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal. If permission is granted then the case will proceed to a full appeal. My lawyers will be opposing permission to appeal, and if necessary the final appeal.

This is a hugely significant and important judgment. The effects of the judgment will not only effect medical treatment but will also shape safeguarding approaches to vulnerable children. The judgment will also impact other countries that look to the UK for legal guidance.

We have received an overwhelming amount of support in the media including the Economist, The Times, The Observer and The Telegraph.

Thank you so much to everyone that was so generous and helped enable this case to take place.

Raising Funds

It is vital that myself and Mrs A are able to defend the judgment and this means I will need to raise significant funds to cover our legal expenses for this next stage. Although we won the case at the High Court, the amount of costs we were able to recover was limited by the court to £35,000. Even with the funds we had raised this left a significant deficit. I hope to also cover these costs. I will need to raise an initial sum of £20000 and will need to stretch this to at least £75000.

Thank you all again, this couldn't happen without you.

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Update 5

Keira Bell

April 22, 2021


As the date of the appeal (23/24 June) draws closer, the amount of work that has to be undertaken by the legal team is ramping up. My legal team is having to deal with legal submissions from 7 intervenors who want to see the judgement of the Divisional Court overturned. These are the University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Brook, Gendered Intelligence, The Endocrine Society, the Association of Lawyers for Children and Liberty.

As a result of the significant amount of legal work that needs to be done we have brought in an extra junior barrister to help the team.

I am greatly encouraged by the role the case has had in shaping the national and global conversation around protecting children with gender dysphoria. It is encouraging that the NHS are requiring additional interim safeguards for children who are seeking puberty blocking treatment. I am also encouraged that NICE have recently confirmed the very poor evidence base for this treatment as well as its unreliability and bias. Similarly the damning report by the CQC into practice at the Tavistock has been a further vindication of our concerns.

Nevertheless we face a significant task in defending the judgement of the Divisional Court. We are facing very well resourced opponents – the Tavistock being funded by the State and the other intervenors being organisations. Mrs A and I are so grateful for the many people who have generously given to this case. You are helping to shine a light of sanity into a deeply troubling and harmful practice that has been entangled with political activism.

In view of the significant amount of work that is required to undertake this appeal I have increased the target to £100,000. Please can I encourage you to give and to share this page.

Finally, you may be aware that in the case of AB the High Court recently ruled that parents can consent to their children receiving puberty blocking treatment when their children lack the capacity to consent. This is very troubling as it exposes many parents to huge pressure to consent to this experimental and harmful treatment. It also leaves many children without protection from making drastic irreversible lifelong decisions. My hope is that our case will highlight the important role of the court in protecting children from ideologically driven experimental medical practice.

Mrs A and I thank you for your ongoing support for us and in defending children from a harmful medical practice.

Update 4

Keira Bell

Feb. 12, 2021


Today we heard from the Civil Appeals Office that the appeal will be heard for two days from 23rd June 2021.

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

Update 3

Keira Bell

Jan. 29, 2021


DR DAVID BELL, TRANSGENDERTREND, THE ENDOCRINE SOCIETY, BROOK, GENDERED INTELLIGENCE AND THE ASSOCIATION OF LAWYERS FOR CHILDREN all granted permission to intervene in the Tavistock's appeal against the judgement of the divisional court.

Hey all,

Today on Friday 29th January a preliminary hearing was held remotely at the Court of Appeal. The Court has allowed numerous interventions to be considered at the Appeal. We are delighted to hear that Dr David Bell has been granted permission to intervene in our case. Dr Bell has recently retired from his position as staff governor and consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock. His knowledge and expertise will be of great help in defending the damning judgement that was made in our favour at the High Court.

A lot of extra work will be needed to respond to the issues raised by so many interventions. The case has already sounded a significant note of caution around the world in the treatment of children and young people with gender dysphoria. It is vital that the judgement is upheld.

Thank you for all of your support this case. It is vital that we keep fundraising so that we can prepare a vigorous defence. 

Update 2

Keira Bell

Jan. 18, 2021


Earlier today it was confirmed that the Tavistock have been granted permission to appeal our case at the Court of Appeal. There are two grounds on which they can be granted permission; realistic prospect of success or some other compelling reason. The appeal has been granted on the latter. The Court of Appeal is interested in the Tavistock’s position that the judgement in Gillick has not been properly followed by the Divisional Court.

We remain disappointed that the Tavistock is trying to overturn the rightful judgement that was made at the High Court last month. That judgement was welcomed by all the broadsheet newspapers. The NHS also welcomed the clarity the judgement brought. It sought to protect vulnerable children from making devastating life altering decisions to proceed with experimental medical treatment.

In order to continue fighting, myself and Mrs A require more funding for legal fees. We are currently in a deficit from the High Court proceedings and the costs will add up the further the appeal progresses. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has donated so far. We have gotten this far and further funding will enable us to fight all the way to ensure that vulnerable minors are protected.

Update 1

Keira Bell

Jan. 10, 2021

PAPERS LODGED & more news

Again a big thank you to all of those who have given their generous donations. We hit the initial target in two days! I know how important this case is for so many. Earlier in the week on Wednesday 6th Jan my lawyers lodged papers with the Court of Appeal against the Tavistocks request of an appeal. We await the Court of Appeals decision.

You may have seen more news break this weekend; The Times received court approval to publish several expert witness statements that we used in our case.

My lawyers have also been informed by the UCLH Trust and Leeds Hospital that they are considering applying to the Family Division of the High Court for a declaration that it would be lawful for them to provide puberty blockers to children who can’t consent on the basis of parental consent. We have asked that we are notified if they make any application so we can intervene in the proceedings. We are very concerned that this could undermine the protective role of the Court by continuing to expose children to experimental and harmful medical treatment. It is alarming that the Hospitals would be actively considering a way to avoid scrutiny by the Court.

I will be back with updates once I hear.



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