England’s first state-sponsored child gender reassignment clinic has been slapped with a lawsuit by a mother of a patient and a former nurse at the center, who say “experimental” treatments are being forced on kids as young as 11.
The suit, first reported by the Times, alleges the Tavistock clinic in Leeds, and its Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), painted an “inaccurate and potentially misleading” picture about the risks of hormone blockers, which are used to delay sexual development in children who wish to switch genders.
The case was brought by the mother of a 15-year-old patient at the clinic – who has only identified as “Mrs. A” – and Sue Evans, who worked there as a mental health nurse between 2003 and 2007. Evans told the Times she was concerned with how rapidly children were recommended for hormone treatment at the clinic, which some experts say can have serious medical risks, including loss of fertility and the ability to have an orgasm. Families are not made aware of some of those dangers, Evans said.
Mrs. A – who said she wanted to remain anonymous to protect her child’s identity – expressed concern that “no one, let alone my daughter, understands the risk” of the hormone procedure, which she called an “experimental treatment.” Proper informed consent cannot be obtained under those conditions, she added.
There are many parents, like me, who are anxiously trying to support their children … We want the best for our children, but we need this to be from a position of evidence-based, not experimental, medicine.
On its website, Tavistock describes its GIDS program as a “highly specialised clinic for young people presenting with difficulties with their gender identity.” However, the facility has increasingly come under fire in recent months over concerns doctors there were misleading patients and rushing them into potentially dangerous treatments.
In an open letter published over the summer directed at Tavistock head Polly Carmichael, another former employee at the clinic, psychologist Kirsty Entwistle, said the center was moving too fast with too little evidence.
“It is a problem that GIDS clinicians are making decisions that will have a major impact on children and young people’s bodies and on their lives, potentially the rest of their lives, without a robust evidence base,” Entwistle wrote.
The Tavistock clinic said it would not comment on any pending legal matters in a statement to the Times.
“It is not appropriate for us to comment in detail in advance of any proposed legal proceedings,” the clinic said. “The GIDS is one of the longest-established services of its type in the world with an international reputation for being cautious and considered.”