Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives

by Good Law Project

Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives

by Good Law Project
Good Law Project
Case Owner
Good Law Project's mission is to achieve change through the law. We uphold democracy, protect the environment and ensure no one is left behind.
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Good Law Project
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Good Law Project's mission is to achieve change through the law. We uphold democracy, protect the environment and ensure no one is left behind.
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Latest: Dec. 23, 2020

First meeting of the Advisory Group

Earlier this afternoon, the Advisory Group to the Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives met for the first time. The fund was set up on 22 November, and on 8 December, when the fund already exceede…

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No one is left behind.

That’s a strand of work Good Law Project is especially proud of. Under it we are challenging new rules to deport those who lose their jobs and become homeless, working up litigation to protect children in care and challenging the Home Office’s hopeless compensation scheme for the victims of Windrush - and many others.

On most of these issues there is a kind of progressive consensus. But not on the rights and dignities of the trans community. If you are trans your very existence is apparently for up grabs.

The data also shows you will face daily injustice, discrimination and violence. In Britain, today. In the streets, at work, in public life and in healthcare. And you will find yourself under attack in the media from a peculiar astro-turfed coalition funded, in part, by investment from anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-assisted dying US hate groups. And often abandoned by the progressive media.

In the last few years we’ve seen attempts to throw out school guidance aimed at preventing LGBT+ hate crime, an employment tribunal case brought by a provocateur arguing for her right to misgender, a legal challenge to stop trans women being able to run for office in all-women shortlists, and another to close the door to treatment that is commonplace around the world. Those who want to roll back the rights of trans and non binary people are turning to litigation to do so. You can view some of the recent legal challenges here.

It’s time to push back. We at Good Law Project want to do what we can to help trans and non-binary people live their lives free from inequality. So we are launching a Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives to work in partnership with others where litigation can protect and defend the rights of transgender people to live as themselves.

Our first case challenges NHS England over its persistent breaches of the law requiring young people with gender dysphoria to be seen within 18 weeks. Whatever you think about the treatment regime it can't be right that they face lengthy waiting lists - on some reports up to four years - for a first appointment. Children are losing the opportunity to be seen within a window in which they can secure effective treatment and so are, in practice, being denied access to treatments which are correlated with reduced suicide risk.

All of the costs to date have been borne by Good Law Project - as we generally bear the costs of developing litigation in this strand - and they will not be recouped from this fund. Any future costs, however, will be funded from the pot. We will also use the fund to fund other legal action that advances the basic rights and dignities of the trans community. Enough is enough.

From the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, to companies like Lloyds Banking Group and Unilever, more and more people are stepping up to defend the rights of trans and non-binary people. We want to play our part and we hope that you’ll join us.

Details: 

Good Law Project uses litigation to achieve change. Funds raised through this campaign will go towards litigation that protects and defends the rights of trans and non binary people, including our case to ensure NHS England meets its statutory obligation to young people. 

When selecting other litigation, Good Law Project will consult with organisations working with the transgender community. In common with our general practice we will retain ten percent of the fund to help cover our running costs. 

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Update 4

Good Law Project

Dec. 23, 2020

First meeting of the Advisory Group

Earlier this afternoon, the Advisory Group to the Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives met for the first time. The fund was set up on 22 November, and on 8 December, when the fund already exceeded £100,000, Good Law Project announced that it was setting up an advisory group to help it administer the fund.

We have published the names of the members – and brief biogs. We’ve also published the terms of reference of the Advisory Group. Because Good Law Project raised the money in its own name and is accountable to those who donated to it, it needs to have a veto right over spending but, of course, it is highly unlikely to exercise that right and the advisory group could publish the exercise of that veto. 

We also agreed on two spending commitments. 

The first is that a legal team including David Lock QC, Jason Pobjoy, and Isabel Buchanan (acting either pro bono or at heavily discounted rates) will seek to ‘intervene’ in the Tavistock’s appeal against the Bell judgment. An intervention is where other parties with an interest ask to be heard in a case – alongside the main parties. 

The intervention will be on behalf of a small group of NGOs who we will name in due course. The intention is to make points that were made inadequately or not at all before the Divisional Court around, in particular, (i) the need to hear what teenagers say about their own lives (ii) the role of parental consent and (iii) wider implications (e.g. for access to abortion) of the decision. The Advisory Group believes the decision was wrong and there is a reasonable basis for thinking it can be overturned. 

The second commitment arises from the fact that, presently, the Tavistock does not accept that parents can consent to their children having puberty blockers. And the decision in the Bell case means that children cannot consent either. This leads to the situation where the consent of the Court – itself a huge barrier in practice – needs to be sought even in circumstances where a specialist doctor, parent, and child all agree that a treatment is in the child’s best interests.

The Tavistock will be invited – or sought to be compelled – to review its position in relation to whether to accept parental consent. In practice success on this action would remove, in many or most cases, the practical barrier to treatment posed by the Bell decision.

In line with Good Law Project’s transparency principles, we will publish the documents in this litigation promptly wherever we are able to.

The Advisory Group is open to proposals about possible avenues of strategic litigation to protect or advance the rights of the trans (including non-binary) community. You can send ideas to: legal@goodlawproject.org

Update 3

Good Law Project

Dec. 8, 2020

The way forward

We are hugely grateful for your contributions to the transgender lives legal defence fund. We have reached our first stretch target of £100,000 in extraordinary time.

I have asked Molly Mulready, a well known and widely respected parent of a trans child, to convene an advisory group, comprised of trans parents and trans people, to help administer the fund going forward. The trans community is spoken at, over, through and around but never heard. However, these monies are an asset of that community and should be allocated by it. Molly and that group, in consultation with the Good Law Project, will draw up brief guidelines around how that fund will be spent. There is a huge amount of work to be done to tackle the tide of transphobia -and its legal consequences - that has shamefully engulfed our media. We intend to do that work. Mindful of how much work there is to do, we have raised the target.

Meanwhile, Good Law Project continues to work with two firms of Solicitors and three Counsel to develop various responses to the decision in the Keira Bell case. Amongst those responses is the putting together of a formidable coalition of interested groups to intervene in the appeal against that decision. We will let you know more as that Coalition is finalised. We are speaking, we believe, to all of the groups and hope and expect to put together a single, powerful intervention so that we can speak with one voice.

There is much in that decision that the trans community is justified in feeling angry about. However, there are three points, in particular, that seem to me to be worth noting.

The first is that (unless overturned) it will leave the United Kingdom as an international outlier on the use of puberty blockers. The World Health Organisation, for example, talks of the need to depathologise trans health: "trans-related and gender diverse identities are not conditions of mental ill health, and classifying them as such can cause enormous stigma" and goes on to add that "Inclusion of gender incongruence in the ICD should ensure transgender people’s access to gender-affirming health care." 

The second is that a case about the approach adopted by a particular institution - and one viewed with some suspicion by the trans community because of its continuing pathologising of gender incongruence - was used by the Court as a trial of a particular treatment. This seems to me to answer the wrong question - with hugely damaging consequences for those who benefitted from that treatment.

The third - and I want to say this very clearly - is that it was profoundly and especially wrong of the Court to do this in a case in which no trans voices were heard. The Tavistock took evidence from a number of trans young people to seek to defend its position. But they were denied all independent voice by a series of case management decisions made by the Court. No advocate on behalf of a trans young person - the only group affected by the decision - was permitted to address the Court. In light of the first two points, I believe this state of affairs was shameful.

Alongside that intervention we are also planning a range of other legal actions which we will keep you updated on.

Solidarity with you all,

Jolyon Maugham QC

Update 2

Good Law Project

Dec. 2, 2020

Update in light of the decision in the Keira Bell case

In light of the decision in the Keira Bell case, which we believe to be wrongly decided, we are presently crowdfunding for the costs of two legal interventions. We will update you on those shortly.

Update 1

Good Law Project

Dec. 1, 2020

Important update: fundraising currently paused

We have temporarily paused this crowdfunding page whilst we take time to understand the recent decision in the Tavistock case. We will of course update all the supporters as soon as we have more information.

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