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Psychiatrists fear that children will be tricked into accessing puberty blockers, the appeals court hears
Psychiatrists fear that transgender children will be “trained” to give rehearsed responses when trying to gain access to puberty blockers, the appeals court heard. Dr. David Bell, former governor of an NHS gender identity trust, expressed concern that parents, friends, or websites could put children under pressure for trying to address feelings of gender dysphoria. Dr. Bell, a psychiatrist with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust from 1996 to earlier this month, was given permission by two senior judges on Friday to intervene on an important case examining whether transgender children can legally take puberty blockers. In November the High Court ruled that children should only be given the controversial drugs if they understood the “long-term risks and consequences” of them. The NHS was forced to change its guidelines overnight to prevent children from having access to hormonal treatment without a court order. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has since appealed the judgment. In a preliminary hearing on Friday, lawyers on behalf of Dr. Bell informed the court that he would like to intervene on the appeal as he has since withdrawn from the NHS Trust and feels that he can speak more freely. In legal documents submitted to the Court of Justice, Dr. Bell referred to as a “high-profile whistleblower” after he published a report in August 2018 investigating “serious concerns” from ten clinicians working at Tavistock. The report found that Tavistock’s gender identity clinic, GIDS, “is not fit for purpose” and that some young patients “will live with the harmful consequences”. Dr. Bell said he felt he had been “whistleblowed” in the course of the Trust’s report and that he “felt unable to participate in the initial dispute in the High Court”. Dr. However, Bell withdrew from the trust earlier this month on January 15 and “is no longer subject to the same restrictions,” the legal documents say. “There is evidence that employees may be afraid to come forward,” the documents continued. “Dr. Bell, a high-profile psychiatrist who until recently held a senior position with the applicant, is now vacant and can describe the concerns that he has examined in depth.” Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Dingemans granted his motion to intervene on the appeal, which will be heard over two days in April, while other groups, including LGBT charity Stonewall, had denied their motion. The lawyers of Dr. Bell said he wanted to inform the court of concerns raised by gender identity practitioners, including the fact that “children can be” coached “by parents, peers or online resources to provide rehearsed answers to specific questions. “Practitioners were also concerned that” highly complex factors “- including historical child abuse and family grief – can affect children’s attitudes towards gender, which means that puberty blockers are not always the best treatment. The landmark case became puberty blockers first brought against the trust by Keira Bell, a 23-year-old woman who started taking puberty-blocking drugs before deciding to reverse the sex change process. Ms. Bell said the clinic had her because of her decision to close at 16 More challenging to change a man. She was also brought in by a woman who can only be legally identified as “Woman A”, the mother of a 15. old autistic girl currently on the waiting list for treatment. At the first High Court hearing in October, their attorneys said that children who have gone through puberty d going through “unable to properly understand the nature and effects of hormone blockers”. They argued there was “a very high chance” that children who start taking hormone blockers will later start taking cross-sex hormones, which they say will cause “irreversible changes,” according to the NHS Trust Making “fairytale” promises to children because they are unable to consent to the sex reassignment process.