Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives

by Good Law Project

Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives

by Good Law Project
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: June 29, 2022

We have a hearing date!

We are pleased to inform you that a hearing date for our challenge over the longstanding delays and barriers to healthcare for trans people has now been allocated by the Court. 

The case will be …

Read more

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 up for 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.


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. 

Update 19

Good Law Project

June 29, 2022

We have a hearing date!

We are pleased to inform you that a hearing date for our challenge over the longstanding delays and barriers to healthcare for trans people has now been allocated by the Court. 

The case will be heard over 1.5 days on 29th and 30th November 2022. 

We will update you as the preparation for the hearing progresses. 

Thank you, as always, for your support. 

Update 18

Good Law Project

April 8, 2022

An update on our work

It has been a difficult few weeks in the news for many trans people and their families. With everything that’s been going on, we wanted to update you on where things stand with our action, as well as provide a reminder that the Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives continues to fund (and win!) important cases for trans equality. 

AB & CD vs Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust 

In the wake of the Bell vs Tavistock judgment in December 2020, we funded a case brought by a child and their parents, which in March 2021 determined that if a child, parent and doctor all agree, no application need be made to the High Court for permission to proceed with a course of treatment. This reversed some of the worst effects of the Bell decision for children who do have parental consent while we waited for the Bell appeal to reach court.  

Bell vs Tavistock appeal

In a huge win for trans people and their families, in September 2021 the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment handed down in Bell v Tavistock by the Divisional Court. We funded an intervention in the case by Brook, The Endocrine Society, and Gendered Intelligence which successfully contributed to the overturning of the original ruling. 

Healthcare delays

Alongside Gendered Intelligence and four individual claimants, we have issued proceedings against NHS England for long standing failures in trans healthcare. The case covers several issues of discrimination, including:

  • Unlawful breach of maximum waiting times for both young people and adults 

  • Discrimination relating to waiting times for assessment and treatment, and in the decision to introduce a ‘Multi-Professional Review Group’ as part of puberty-delaying treatment for transgender youth

  • Failure to comply with the public sector equality duty in the arrangements the NHS makes with providers

We are currently waiting to hear back from the court about whether the case will proceed. You can read more about this case and contribute directly to the case fund here

LGB Alliance - Charity Commission

Mermaids, with GLP’s support, has launched a case to appeal the Charity Commission’s decision to give the LGBA charity status. A hearing has been scheduled for September 2022. You can read more about this case and contribute directly to the case fund here.  

Other work GLP has funded in this area includes:

  • Commissioning expert legal advice to help schools understand their responsibilities to trans students and parents understand their rights 

  • Early stage advice on a legal challenge to the discriminatory treatment of trans conversion therapy 

  • Early stage development of a case that would challenge some Clinical Commissioning Group’s discriminatory practices with respect to funding fertility preservation for trans people. 

We are also scoping ways of challenging the EHRC on its new guidance regarding single sex spaces, as well as supporting organisations to make submissions for the scheduled review of the EHRC, with a deadline of June 1st 2022

The Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives is community led, and is overseen by an advisory board. You can read the terms of reference here. Thank you for your support.

NB: The Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives is used to fund all of Good Law Project’s work that is overseen by the Advisory Board. We also sometimes open separate fundraisers for specific cases. These specific case funds are governed by the same rules as the Defence Fund, and any surplus raised goes back into the fund. In the same way, any deficit on these cases will be topped up from the Defence Fund. 

Update 17

Good Law Project

Oct. 28, 2021

We’re issuing proceedings against NHS England

We are now preparing to issue judicial review proceedings against NHS England over long-standing, lengthy and unlawful delays to meeting the trans community’s healthcare needs.

The NHS is in breach of regulations 45, 47 and 48 of the National Health Service Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups (Responsibilities and Standing Rules) Regulations 2012. NHS England accepts it is in breach, and says the issue is not funding constraints. It also claims to have done everything possible. 

We do not accept this analysis. Trans people have heard this story repeatedly, the situation continues to deteriorate, and the hostility on the part of the NHS to trans healthcare speaks for itself. We intend to put the matter before a judge to decide.

Separately, Good Law Project is also preparing to issue judicial review proceedings against NHS England for its unlawful service specification for healthcare provision for trans children. 

Within an hour of the Bell decision being handed down in the Divisional Court in December 2020, the NHS halted all referrals to endocrinology without a court order. 

But when the Court of Appeal overruled Bell in September 2021, NHS England refused to update their rules for service provision until we sent our pre-action letter, when they finally amended it. But they did so in a way that we think is still unlawful: firstly, because they require treatment decisions made by qualified specialists to be reviewed by a Multi-Professional Review Group and secondly, because parental consent is still required.

We have written back to NHS England pointing out that the first of those two limitations is discriminatory. Why should the treatment of trans people by qualified specialists be subject to review, while the treatment of cis people is not? The process they’ve put in place also adds substantially to the delays trans people face for treatment. 

As the letter says:

“Our clients remain dismayed at the hurdles that NHS England is continuing to put in place to allow trans children to be assessed by an endocrinologist for puberty blockers. This hurdles exist (a) after clinical professionals at the Tavistock have reached the view that a trans child should be referred to an endocrinologist to consider prescribing puberty blockers and (b) prior to the endocrinologist taking a decision whether it is clinically appropriate for a child to be prescribed puberty blockers. These are hurdles which directly interfere with the clinical relationship between the child’s clinicians and the child. They are not replicated elsewhere within the NHS and cannot be justified solely for trans children.”

Requiring parental consent is unlawful too. It ignores the decision in Bell in the Court of Appeal, it ignores the decision of Gillick in the House of Lords, and it ignores the rights of competent young people to make decisions about their own lives. 

We have, without optimism, given the NHS 14 days to correct their service specification but we are also preparing to issue proceedings.

Standing back, NHS England’s stance on trans healthcare seems increasingly to follow the “political” rhetoric rather than treatment realities. Treatment protocols for trans adolescents are well-established and have existed for decades. Providing puberty blockers to delay puberty is a reversible form of medical treatment which creates time to reflect before any prescription of cross-sex hormones. 

Denying puberty blockers, whether through deliberate decision or neglect, results in inevitable changes to a trans young person’s body. Some of these changes are only reversible with serious surgery later in life, and some of them are entirely irreversible. 

Puberty blockers pause those changes and create space for the young person to reflect. Denying them to a young trans person is arguably an act of cruelty.

Trans people need healthcare from the NHS – not politics.

Thank you for your support.

Update 16

Good Law Project

Oct. 4, 2021

Health care is for everyone

A coalition of civil society organisations has taken the first formal step in judicial review proceedings against NHS England in relation to its unlawful and discriminatory approach to health care for transgender adolescents.

The proposed judicial review is additional to that already commenced by two transgender adolescents and two transgender adults for the longstanding - and deteriorating - breach of the right to treatment within 18 weeks.

The coalition includes Good Law Project whose Legal Defence Fund is funding the judicial review. It also includes the world’s leading authority on hormones, the Endocrine Society; young people’s sexual health organisation, Brook; and trans led charity, Gendered Intelligence.

The judicial review makes two points.

First, qualified, expert doctors are forbidden from treating trans adolescents without being subject to a “review group”. However, this is discriminatory because no such procedure exists for the treatment of people who are not trans - and exacerbates the already lengthy delays. Second, the service specification is unlawfully based on the Bell decision in the Divisional Court - which was overturned in the Court of Appeal.

Everyone is entitled to health care.

That health care must serve the interests of patients – as determined by expert practitioners pursuing international treatment protocols in consultation with patients and their families – not the interests of ideologues.

The NHS must not turn the bodies of trans people into a political battlefield.

Update 15

Good Law Project

Sept. 22, 2021

NHS England must act

Last week, the Court of Appeal reversed the damaging Bell judgment in a hugely significant victory for transgender children and their families. 

Once more, doctors are allowed to make their own assessment about whether their young trans patients have the capacity to choose being prescribed puberty blockers. 

The judgment means it is now unlawful for NHS England to require a Court order to give the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) permission to refer a young trans patient for puberty blockers or continue treatment for current patients.

This could not be more urgent to resolve. Trans children have been denied puberty blockers since 1 December 2020. Despite the ruling in AB v CD, there have been no referrals from GIDS to endocrinology services since 1 December 2020. This means many children have been left to go through puberty and experience permanent and distressing changes to their bodies – suffering which could have been avoided.

Our lawyers have written to NHS England urging them to act as swiftly as possible to implement the ruling and to clarify the guidance. 

We know they can act quickly, and there is no excuse not to – they changed their guidance within hours of the original Bell decision in December to halt new referrals. 

This judgment is a big and necessary step in the right direction for trans young people, who face unimaginable hardships every day. It should make their lives, and the lives of their loving families, easier and happier. 

NHS England has been told very clearly what it needs to do. But if they drag their heels on implementing the Court of Appeal’s decision, we will bring expedited proceedings against them. 

Update 14

Good Law Project

Sept. 17, 2021

WE’VE WON: Bell v Tavistock Judgment quashed by Court of Appeal

In a huge win for trans people and their families, the Court of Appeal has today reversed the judgment handed down in Bell v Tavistock by the Divisional Court. 

The Court of Appeal said that “the [original] claim for judicial review should have been dismissed” outright and points out that it “was inappropriate for the Divisional Court to provide the guidance” in the first place. 

The judgment is a resounding success for the Tavistock and those of us who supported their appeal.

NHS England will now need to review its current guidance on puberty blockers and consent, in light of the appeal judgment

We are proud to have intervened alongside Brook, The Endocrine Society, and Gendered Intelligence to oppose the original ruling. And that we had the backing of so many organisations in the LGBT, children’s rights, and reproductive rights sectors and international medical bodies. Collectively, we sought to speak for those that were not heard in the original judgment. Thanks to our intervention, the Court heard submissions from trans young people actually affected. 

This judgment reinstates the proper distinction of responsibilities between doctors and the courts. It will make it much more difficult for those with a hard right evangelical agenda to interfere in the delivery of medical treatment in the UK. 

This is a huge win for our trans family. And our second successful intervention in the space. The Court of Appeal also endorsed the first

We hope NHS England will now act swiftly. But make no mistake, if it drags its heels on implementing the Court of Appeal decision, as it has with AB, we will bring expedited proceedings.

We are so grateful to our co-intervenors and to you hundreds of you for your support. Without which, this important victory would simply not have been possible. 

Next week Good Law Project will announce two further challenges to help secure the trans community receives the support that those of us from communities take for granted. 

If you would like to support our work in this space, you can do so here

Solidarity with you all. 

Update 13

Good Law Project

July 13, 2021

Update: Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives

Thanks to your generous support, we have so far raised almost £160,000 for our Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives.

The money we have raised has, so far, covered the costs of three important pieces of litigation. And, as specified on the Fund’s CrowdJustice page,10% has also gone towards Good Law Project’s running costs.

Cases we have funded

Last month we funded an intervention in the Bell v Tavistock appeal by the world’s leading authority on hormones, the Endocrine Society, young people's sexual health organisation Brook, and trans-led charity Gendered Intelligence. We are still awaiting the appeal judgment, but we felt that the hearing went well. You can read more about the Bell case and our appeal here.

The Trans Legal Defence Fund also funded an important ‘parental consent’ case earlier in the year. The effect of the decision in the Bell case in December was that even when a specialist doctor wanted to prescribe puberty blockers, a child wanted to receive puberty blockers, and their parents believed puberty blockers were in the best interests of the child, an application would still need to be made to the High Court. Thanks to this successful case, parents can now consent on behalf of their children, regardless of what happens with the Bell case.

Back in November 2020 we began a challenge to the waiting times that trans teenagers and adults face before they are given a first appointment for a specialist assessment, consultation and care by the NHS. This matter was placed on hold while we worked on the Bell appeal. Now that the appeal is over, we have instructed lawyers to re-start work on a legal challenge over waiting times.

Finally, we are building a case that would challenge some local Clinical Commissioning Groups’ refusal to fund fertility preservation for trans people, a failure that ignores NHS guidance.

As of today,  there is approximately £40,000 left in the Legal Defence Fund. We will continue to put this money towards litigation that protects and defends the rights of trans and non binary people. It is only with your support that we can do this work - and we really do appreciate every single donation.

Update 12

Good Law Project

June 25, 2021

Update from Court – The Bell v Tavistock appeal

Over the last two days, the Court of Appeal has heard submissions in relation to the decision made by the High Court in December regarding the ability of children under 16 with gender dysphoria to consent to treatment with puberty blockers.

Although the judges in the Appeal made clear that the High Court had not found illegality according to the terms of the initial claim (i.e. that children under the age of 16 could never meaningfully consent to treatment with puberty blockers; or that they were not being provided with the correct information to enable them to do so), the judges had issued a declaration and provided guidance in the judgment that has sown confusion and doubt in the minds of clinicians and patients as to the steps legally necessary for prescription.

Barristers for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust yesterday argued that in its decision the Divisional Court wrongly departed from what’s known as the Gillick principle of the capacity of a child to consent to treatment, and relied on unsubstantiated and improperly submitted evidence.

Fenella Morris QC representing the Trust emphasised the highly responsive and individualised consent checking processes which are applied when considering a referral for the consideration of puberty-blocking hormones. She also argued that the regulatory framework that governs such decisions is already both lawful and effective, in line with the principles set out in Gillick, and that a young person and their family should lawfully be supported by a clinical team to achieve informed consent, rather than requiring intervention by the Court.

Jonathan Hyam QC, Counsel for the Respondents, contended however that the original Divisional Court judgment was correct, and that puberty blockers are experimental drugs with unknown consequences which require special regulation by the Court, particularly as their effects are likely to be difficult for some children to understand. He argued that the previous Court had the discretion to provide guidance on how best to ensure lawful practice by the Tavistock.

Jonathan McKendrick QC representing the NHS Trusts of UCLH and Leeds, whose endocrinologists prescribe puberty blockers, argued that the declaration and guidance provided in December posed a serious threat to the rights and autonomy of the child by improperly interpreting the existing law on mental capacity, and ignored the implications of factors beyond the medical in a clinician’s assessment of their patient. He also emphasised that a ‘progression’ from puberty blockers to cross-sex hormones by all patients was assumed by the High Court on the basis of improper evidence, and provided documents from the NHS Trusts outlining the separate prescriptive processes for the two treatments.

Mr Skinner, for Transgender Trend, who were permitted to make an intervention, argued that it was entirely appropriate for the High Court to have issued guidance where there were concerns about Tavistock’s implementation of the law around the ability of children to consent to treatment.

The judges in the case were keen to point out that they are not able to rule on the appropriateness of treatment with puberty-blocking hormones, only on whether there was an error in the previous court’s declaration and guidance with respect to the law that relates to the ability of a child to consent to treatment.

However, they did express concern about whether the original judgment was in line with the Gillick principles, and queried whether the Court should have provided that guidance at all given that the Tavistock had not been found to be acting illegally. The judges also raised questions about whether judicial review was the correct way for the Respondent to have challenged issues it may have with the pre-existing regulatory guidance, emphasising that it is not the role of the Court to redraft it or to make a professional assessment of conflicting expert evidence.

Our intervention, backed by a coalition of health organisations and LGBTQ+ charities, including the world’s leading authority on hormones, the Endocrine Society, young people’s sexual health organisation Brook, and Gendered Intelligence, was submitted in writing and will be considered alongside the other materials when the judges make their decision.

Overall, although we will not know until the Court of Appeal hands down its decision, our impression is that we had a good hearing and at least some, and we hope much, of the harm done by the Divisional Court to the rights of gender incongruent young people to access medical care is likely to be undone.

If you would like to support our work in this area you can do so here.

Update 11

Good Law Project

June 22, 2021

Ruling threatens young people’s right to make decisions about their health care

We have filed our intervention to the Court of Appeal arguing that transgender teenagers should be able to consent to treatment the same way teenagers with other medical conditions can. 

The intervention is backed by a coalition of health organisations and LGBTQ+ charities, including the world’s leading authority on hormones, the Endocrine Society, young people's sexual health organisation Brook, and Gendered Intelligence. It will be considered as part of the appeal of the Bell v Tavistock and Portman NHS Health Foundation ruling, which will be heard on 23 and 24 June.

The High Court ruled in December 2020 that adolescents younger than 16 years old were unlikely to be able to give consent to take reversible hormones to delay puberty. The ruling flies in the face of young people’s right to make decisions about their own medical care, as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Gillick competence principle - and which underpins practice across a wide range of health and social care, including reproductive health. 

What this is really about is the treatment needs of individual patients. And a process that centres those needs. What we have instead is a media circus where expertise has been displaced by politics - to the detriment of patients.

Where patients and doctors and parents agree on the right course of treatment there is nothing that a Court - that has no medical expertise, is not the patient, and is not the patient’s loving parents - brings to the party. What the judges did in the Bell case - we believe - is replace expertise with politics in a way profoundly harmful to the interests of individuals.

Many clinicians fear the Bell judgment as it stands not only threatens to block trans teenagers from accessing the medical care they need, but drives a coach and horses through the Gillick principle - posing grave risks to the autonomy all young people have over their bodies and medical care.

We hope the Court of Appeal overturns the decision. We expect its decision will be ‘reserved’, which means we won’t have a decision this week, but we will of course keep you updated with how we feel the hearing has gone.

Solidarity with you all.

If you would like to support our work in this area you can do so here.

Update 10

Good Law Project

June 2, 2021

Appeal “LGB Alliance’s” charity status

Charitable status is earned by those who serve the public good. Denigrating trans people, attacking those who speak for them, and campaigning to remove legal protections from them is the very opposite of a public good. 

Whatever sweet nothings the so-called “LGB Alliance” whispered into the ear of the Charity Commission the truth was set out in a speech by LGB Alliance director Bev Jackson on 9 March 2020. She described their real goal as follows:

“We’re applying for charitable status and building an organization to challenge the dominance of those who promote the damaging theory of gender identity.”

Their purpose is the denigration of trans people and the destruction of organisations that support them, in particular through political lobbying and campaigning for law change. 

These purposes are reprehensible and they are not charitable; they are political objectives - to roll back legal protections for trans people. 

To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for purposes which the law recognises as charitable, and it must pursue them in a way which gives rise to tangible benefits that outweigh any associated harms. 

We don’t believe that legal threshold has been met. 

So Mermaids, supported by LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, LGBT Foundation, TransActual, and Good Law Project, are appealing the Charity Commission’s decision to award the so-called “LGB Alliance” charity status. 

We have instructed Bindmans to act as solicitors. Michael Gibbon QC and Ted Loveday at Maitland Chambers are acting as Counsel. 

The case is not straightforward. There is very little law about who can challenge a flawed decision to recognise someone as a charity. But LGBTQ+ people across the UK face an onslaught of misinformation and attacks in the mainstream press, in politics and on social media. Those carrying out those attacks ought not to be dignified with charitable status - and the attacks should not be subsidised by the tax reliefs available to charities.

We, the country’s leading LGBTQ+ charities and organisations, speak with the single voice of a single community when we say our community will not be divided. We oppose transphobia in all its forms. We stand together.

If you are in a position to you can support the case here.


You can read the appeal as filed here and the supporting documents here. 

Any surplus will go to Good Law Project’s Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives. 

Update 9

Good Law Project

April 19, 2021

The response from NHS England

You may by now have seen the response from NHS England to the AB Judgment funded by the Trans Defence Fund. The Judgment establishes that the Tavistock should accept parental consent in circumstances where, for so long as the Bell decision remains good law, a minor cannot consent to taking puberty blockers.

What in substance the response does is restore the Tavistock’s ability to make new referrals for puberty blockers without the need for a court order - and it establishes a new panel to review the processes by which those decisions are made. 

The response seems to us both confused and disingenuous. And we have received no substantive response from NHS England to our correspondence. We also have concerns about the new risks the procedure creates to patient health. We are taking further legal advice from our team and will report back to you when we have devised a plan of action.

Update 8

Good Law Project

March 26, 2021

NHS England must reverse ban on new prescriptions of puberty blockers

Following the decision by the High Court earlier today, lawyers for Good Law Project have written urgently to NHS England requiring that it reverses the ban it introduced following the decision in Bell on new NHS prescriptions of puberty blockers. If it does not, further judicial review proceedings will follow. 

The Judgment made it clear that, where a clinician at the Tavistock is of the view a trans child will benefit from puberty blockers, parents have the right to consent on behalf of the child.  In light of this, it would clearly be unlawful to continue to prevent new patients from receiving puberty blockers. The rationale for the ban that was introduced following Bell – no one but the Court can validly give consent – has entirely fallen away. 

This could not be more urgent. 

Trans children have been denied puberty blockers since 1 December 2020. The consequence is that hundreds or thousands of children have experienced permanent and irreversible changes to their bodies, changes inconsistent with their gender, which will require serious surgery to ameliorate and which have caused very real distress.

NHS England moved with surprising haste to introduce the ban when the Bell judgment was handed down. We see no reason why it should not move equally promptly to remove it now the rationale for the ban has fallen away. 

We have given NHS England 7 days to confirm that, in cases where there is parental consent, changes will be made to the Service Specification to remove the need for the Tavistock to go to court in all existing cases – and to allow new cases to commence treatment.  

We are publishing our letter to NHS England in full and will let you know when we receive a response.

Update 7

Good Law Project

March 26, 2021

Our parental consent case against the Tavistock has succeeded

If a child cannot consent to taking puberty blockers their loving parent can consent in their stead. That is the outcome of the decision of the High Court, earlier this morning, in the case of AB v Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust (full decision below), the first case funded by Good Law Project’s Trans Defence Fund.

The effect of the decision in the Bell case earlier this year, when read together with the practice hitherto of the Tavistock to treat on the basis of a child’s consent only, was that even when a specialist doctor wanted to prescribe puberty blockers, a child wanted to receive puberty blockers, and their parents believed puberty blockers were in the best interests of the child, an application would still need to be made to the High Court. 

Good Law Project’s lawyers were unable to identify any precedent in English law for this situation. What role is there for a judge – what expertise would they bring or function would they fulfil – in circumstances where the child, parents and doctor all agreed on the right course of therapeutic treatment?

The decision is hugely significant. The barriers to accessing puberty blockers through the Tavistock were already enormous. Very few children were able to overcome them without parental support. The decision means that children with that support will no longer be barred from accessing puberty blockers by the Bell decision. It is not unreasonable to describe this morning’s decision as in large part reversing the practical effects of Bell.  

The decision does leave a number of problems unresolved. Trans children without parental support – who are especially vulnerable – will remain disadvantaged. The Bell case poses threats to teenagers wishing to access contraception and abortion care. Bell represents a profound rolling back of the rights of the child. And this morning’s decision, from one of the same judges as sat in the Bell case, perpetuated the highly unorthodox approach to international treatment norms advocated for by the notionally expert witnesses for the Claimant in Bell.

Obviously, we hope some of these difficulties will be ameliorated by the appeal against Bell which begins on 23 June 2021 and in respect of which the Trans Defence Fund has funded an intervention on behalf of the Endocrine Society (the international professional body for those specialising in hormones), Brook (the Charity which works to give young people control of their sexual health, enjoy healthy relationships and and explore their identities) and Gendered Intelligence (a Charity that exists to increase understanding of gender diversity and improve trans people’s quality of life).

Good Law Project will write, later today, to NHS England asking it to reverse the ban it introduced, with ugly and undue haste following the decision in Bell, on new NHS prescriptions of puberty blockers. If it does not, we will initiate further judicial review proceedings against it.

The hostile climate which shamefully predominates in the English media means we are not expecting to do any reactive media but we do expect to appear in several outlets that speak to the trans community in the coming days.

But today, we celebrate some progress, and some recognition, of what has been a painful and often lonely fight for some in the trans community and their families. Solidarity with you all.

Looking forward

Looking forward we plan, if we are able to secure funding, to bring our planned judicial review of NHS waiting times for trans children – and indeed waiting time for trans adults. The time-sensitive nature of a treatment that suspends puberty to give a child time to think about changing their gender means that waiting times of up to four years are effectively a denial of treatment. Wealthy households can and do take their children abroad for wrap-around treatment. Middle-income households fund a sub-optimal patchwork of treatment through a combination of foreign prescriptions and domestic delivery. Low-income households often feel compelled to buy puberty blockers from unlicensed suppliers in a manner reminiscent of backstreet abortion clinics. 

We also expect to make further announcements shortly regarding litigation against public bodies who are directly discriminating against the trans community. It is easy to forget, amongst the relentless and often dishonest transphobia of our right-wing media, that gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us thus far. Thank you. 

Update 6

Good Law Project

Jan. 29, 2021

Permission granted - we've cleared the first hurdle

The High Court has granted permission for Brook, Endocrine Society and Gendered Intelligence to intervene. 

The voice of trans young people and the voice of the experts who prescribe puberty blockers should have been before the Divisional Court.

By working in unity across children and young people’s organisations, reproductive health organisations and international medical bodies we have climbed the first hurdle. 

Our work continues now to ensure the experience and expertise of each of these sectors is fully represented in the ongoing appeal.

The Court confirmed the next hearing would be scheduled as soon as possible and we were pleased that the urgency of this is appreciated by all parties. The Judge recommends that all parties are ready to go - completely - by the end of April. We will keep you posted with developments. 

Solidarity with you all. 

Update 5

Good Law Project

Jan. 26, 2021

We have filed our intervention

We are pleased to announce that we have now filed our intervention in the Tavistock's appeal against the Bell judgment.

The intervention is made on behalf of a small group of NGOs  - Stonewall, Endocrine Society, Gendered Intelligence and Brook - and has the backing of many other organisations in the LGBT, children's rights and reproductive rights sectors, alongside international medical bodies. 

The NGOs speak for the voices that were not directly heard in the original Court judgment, in particular the voice of the child and the voice of prescribing doctors with expertise in the medical evidence and standard of care for transgender health.

It is based on 3 main grounds: (i) the need to hear the voice of teenagers affected, (ii) the issues the judgment raises around the role of parental consent and, (iii) the wider implications, in particular for access to contraception and abortion care, of the Divisional Court’s ruling. 

The Interveners have closely coordinated and formed a wider coalition across their sectors to ensure that all the affected groups are represented and that the relevant evidence and expertise are before the Court, without duplication. We hope therefore that there will not be other interventions, which could damage the prospects of this one.

There will be a short court hearing this Friday 29th January to determine whether any outside parties should be granted permission to intervene. We will of course keep you posted on the outcome.

Solidarity with you all.

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: [email protected]

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.

    There are no public comments on this case page.