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Case Update

NHS commits to greater protection for young trans people seeking healthcare

25th April 2023

Prompted by Good Law Project, NHS England says it will now consider how its policies impact on young trans people waiting for healthcare – following our legal challenge that led to a Judge concluding that they should be better protected.

Aldara Zarraoa / Shutterstock

In March, we wrote to NHS England asking for assurances that protections under the Equality Act 2010 will be included in its policy and the delivery of health services for young trans people.  Having a ‘protected characteristic’ means you have a right not to be treated less favourably or discriminated against because of that characteristic because of, for example, your age, religion, disability or gender reassignment.

It follows a court case we brought with five co-claimants in January 2023 to challenge NHS England over the extreme waiting times faced by trans people trying to access specialised healthcare.

Our challenge was rejected by the court, and we’re currently fundraising for an appeal.

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However, the judgment disagreed with NHS England’s argument that young people seeking gender reassignment are not protected under the Equality Act 2010. 

The NHS had excluded trans young people and children on the long waiting lists from its definition of “gender reassignment”, a protected characteristic, when designing a new treatment service. 

It conducted an equality assessment which concluded “children and young people who are on the waiting list for GIDS (Gender Identity Development Service)  […] cannot be treated as proposing to undergo” a process of gender reassignment. 

The ruling confirmed this was an incorrect understanding, saying “there is no reason of principle why a child could not satisfy the definition [of gender reassignment] … provided that they have taken a settled decision to adopt some aspect of the identity of the other gender.”

Those on the GIDS waiting list will now be protected by the Equality Act 2010 which means the NHS will have to consider their needs and develop policies which don’t unlawfully discriminate against them.

If you are in a position to donate to support our work in this area, any amount big or small would be greatly appreciated. You can find more information on how to donate to the trans healthcare appeal here.


This article is part of our We are just people too case

England is an international outlier in trans healthcare – but not in a good way. In November 2022, we went to the High Court to challenge NHS England over the extreme waiting times faced by trans people trying to access specialised healthcare. In January 2023, we received news that our challenge had been rejected by the Judge – but we were also granted permission to appeal, and are now fundraising so we can continue the fight.

See more about this case