Keira Bell's Solicitors attempted to intervene in young trans woman's healthcare case

by Mallory Moore

Fri Mar 26, 2021 · 575 words · 3 min

A new ruling has been published on a case regarding the ability of parents to provide consent to healthcare for a young trans girl in the aftermath of Bell v Tavistock preventing most instances where Gillick Competence may have previously been applied. This reveals some information about the efforts of activists and legal campaigners against healthcare for trans minors.

An anonymised version of the judgement was published1 regarding AB & CD (parents of 15 year old trans girl XY) and their right to provide parental consent for XY's ongoing treatment with puberty blockers, which were prescribed after a lengthy period of assessment in view of the potential distress and irreversible changes that undergoing a male puberty would result in for her. The judgement did not revise any of the original findings in Bell v Tavistock2,3 which is currently undergoing appeal with interventions against the original ruling by the Endocrine Society, Brook (a charity dealing with sexual health issues for young people) and Gendered Intelligence (a charity which advocates and educates on issues faced by trans and gender diverse people). The ruling did find that XY's parents have the right to provide their consent to ongoing puberty blocking treatment on behalf of XY, and that this is not adversely affected by Bell v Tavistock.

However it does shed some light on the ways that the Bell-v-Tavistock ruling is being used in the UK by activists and lawyers against the availability of transition related healthcare for young trans people (including Keira Bell herself4.

In paragraph 33, the judgement notes:

  1. There has been correspondence between Ms Bell’s solicitors and the Third Respondent concerning any application that might be made to this Court concerning parental consent. Ms Bell’s solicitors requested that they be given 14 days notice of any application. The Third Respondent [University College London] did not give any undertaking in this regard and plainly AB was neither asked nor gave any such undertaking. When the matter came before Sir James Munby he requested Cafcass act as Advocate to the Court but he did not order that Ms Bell’s representatives be informed of the proceedings...

    ...I note that it would have been very difficult to allow Ms Bell’s representatives or any other third party to participate in the hearing given the highly personal facts concerning XY and her family.


— Mrs Justice Lieven DBE [2021] EWHC 741 (Fam)

While the Bell v. Tavistock ruling has had considerable impacts in driving a rash of new legislation efforts in the United States to criminalise puberty blockers and adolescent trans healthcare, it is clear that campaigns attempting to block trans healthcare in the U.K. are still very much an ongoing problem.


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