A transgender teenager has taken legal action after an alleged delay in gender reassignment treatment.
14-year-old England-based trans boy known as Reece has lost his patience after waiting for more than one year to be treated at the NHS’s only gender clinic for adolescents and children.
Previously, similar cases involving massive delays in treatment for young transgender people have been reported in the country, prompting Reece to file a legal complaint against NHS England because “nobody else is sticking up for trans young people.”
Responding to the complaint, NHS England confirmed that an investigation is underway to find out “how and when children and young people were referred to specialist services.”
According to the Good Law Project, a not-for-profit profit organization representing the 14-year-old, the NHS is legally required to provide all patients with specialist care within the period of 18 weeks following their request. In certain cases, an alternative can be provided instead.
As Reece said in an interview with the BBC, he was left with no choice but to take legal action due to him and others like him suffering from massive delays in gender reassignment treatment.
“I know more than 30 trans people, from school and LGBT groups. Everybody’s been waiting for months, or even years, but nobody’s been able to get in yet,” Reece said of similar cases involving gender reassignment treatment.
“It’s scary because it shows the service isn’t available to the people who need it.”
According to the 14-year-old, he’s been waiting for a mental health assessment – the first step of the treatment – ever since he was referred to Tavistock, a private healthcare provider, by his GP back in 2019.
As BBC’s Freedom of Information request revealed, however, more than ten thousand young individuals were referred to the private healthcare provider in the last three years even though they are already overbooked and struggling to provide service to individuals like Reece.
Speaking of the large numbers of young people who are coming out as trans, LGB Alliance suggested we should be asking ourselves “why are so many young people presenting at the clinic for a gender treatment.”
“We don’t think children should be allowed to self-diagnose any medical condition,” Bev Jackson of the lobby group said.
“The numbers of referrals are so huge that I believe this is a social problem caused by miseducation. It is impossible for the NHS to deal with all of these young people who are coming forward.”
Defending Reece’s case, the Good Law Project’s Jolyon Maugham confirmed that the NHS is legally responsible “to ensure that patients referred by their GP to a gender identity development service are seen within 18 weeks.”
“This is not happening, and as a result, we believe the law shows they should be providing alternative care to anyone on the waiting list. That could include private and overseas healthcare,” Maugham said.
“Whilst the young people are waiting, puberty passes and transitioning becomes a lot harder – some people are effectively denied treatment.
“The NHS needs to make a cultural decision that trans people are real, and they have the same rights to treatment as everybody else.”
According to NHS England, Tavistock has seen “a 500% rise in the number of children and young people” seeking gender reassignment treatment since the year 2013.
Since the issue of delay has been brought forward, the NHS has reportedly launched an independent review.
“The NHS has already asked Dr Hilary Cass to carry out an independent review including how and when children and young people are referred to specialist services, so legal action against the NHS will only cost taxpayers’ money and not help the actions already under way,” a spokesperson for the service warned.