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Help challenge the ban on puberty blockers

Loredana Sangiuliano / Shutterstock

Content warning: suicide

Just before parliament was dissolved on 30 May, the health secretary Victoria Atkins introduced an immediate ban on trans young people obtaining in the UK puberty blockers prescribed by regulated prescribers in France, Germany, Switzerland and throughout Europe.

The consequences are profound.

A medicine that young trans people have used for decades, that is lawfully prescribed throughout Europe, that is recommended by decades-old international treatment protocols, that cis people can continue to use, and the NHS can continue to prescribe to young trans people if they have already started, will no longer be available. In fact, it will become a criminal offence to supply in the United Kingdom puberty blockers to those caught by the ban, punishable by up to two years in prison.

The Cass report has been widely criticised – by the trans community, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, by the Endocrine Society and by the American Academy of Pediatrics – for its conclusions. But even the Cass report contemplates continued use of puberty blockers to treat trans people.

The ban also bypassed the normal requirement for consulting a statutory committee to protect the public interest. And introducing it shortly before parliament rose meant that parliament could not scrutinise it either.

Its results are predictable – and terrifying.

We have heard from a well-placed whistleblower inside the NHS that, in the seven years before the decision in the Bell case (concerning the use of puberty blockers), one person using Gender Identity Development Services lost their life. The NHS reacted to that decision by introducing immediate, heavy restrictions to NHS services for young trans people. And it did not lift them when the decision was overturned in the Court of Appeal. We have been informed that in the three years following the decision 16 people lost their lives. We have contemporaneous evidence that this concern was raised at the time and the whistleblower believes senior management took a decision to suppress evidence of the deaths. We put these allegations to the Tavistock, we know it received them, but it has failed to respond.

This ban closes off the only route to treatment left open by the restrictions on treatment in the NHS. Atkins’s shockingly callous decision is likely to lead to further deaths of young trans people. We have received many emails from desperately worried parents.

Trans Actual CIC, working with Good Law Project, has instructed Russell-Cooke solicitors and senior barristers David Lock KC, Jason Coppel KC and Rob Harland to advise on a legal challenge to the regulations. So we’re taking the first formal step in urgent legal proceedings against Atkins.

We will issue the case in court as soon as possible and will ask for an urgent hearing – but we desperately need your help.

Details

10% of the funds raised will be a contribution to the general running costs of Good Law Project. It is our policy only to raise sums that we reasonably anticipate could be spent on the work we are crowdfunding for. However, if there is a surplus it will go to develop and support further work we do to fight for a better fairer future for all.

Crowdfunder Updates

  • 06/06/2024

    Small revision to description of the regulations

    On 6 June 2024, following revised advice from Counsel, we made minor amendments to the description of the regulations

  • 18/06/2024

    We have issued our claim for judicial review in the High Court

    We sent our Pre-Action Letter to the health secretary, Victoria Atkins, on 4 June. Late on Monday 10 June we received a formal response from her lawyers. It attached some sensitive ministerial briefing documents. Early the next morning they sent us a further email demanding we delete the formal response. No legal basis was given for the demand so we refused.

    Late on 13 June we received a replacement response and today we have issued our claim. 

    We would like to publish Victoria Atkins’s response – we think it needs to be in the public domain – but court rules prohibit this for the time being. And since our issued claim contains reference to those documents, we have decided not to publish it either.

    However, we expect to be able to place this important material in the public domain in due course and we have asked the court to list the matter for an urgent hearing as soon as possible after 3rd July.

     

  • 20/06/2024

    Update on hearing date

    We have had response from the High Court to say that the case will be heard as soon as possible after 15th July for a one day hearing

  • 02/07/2024

    We have a hearing date

    The case is listed for 12th July in the High Court of Justice, King’s Bench Division,  Administrative Court. Trans Actual, supported by Good Law Project, will face the new government’s Department of Health and Social Care

This crowdfunder is now closed.

Thanks to the amazing support of Good Law Project supporters, we raised £60,328.61.

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