MAFS star Ella Morgan urges NHS to listen to trans people following Cass Review: ‘Let us be heard’

A photoshopped image of Ella Morgan infront of a brick wall.

Married at First Sight star Ella Morgan has criticised the Cass Review for failing to listen to trans people before reaching its conclusions.

The reality TV star, who is transgender and who rose to prominence in the UK after featuring on the Channel 4 TV show, told PinkNews that she believed the report amounted to “scaremongering” and failed to consider the voices of trans young people themselves.

The Cass Review, which delves into the model of healthcare for trans young people in England, was published in full this month after a four-year wait.

NHS England commissioned paediatrician expert Dr Hilary Cass to head the report in 2020, in response to the sharp rise in referrals to The Tavistock Centre, then England’s only youth gender clinic.

It found that there is no one specific reason why referrals rose, while recommending that NHS England take a “holistic approach” to care and individualised assessments, through regional hubs across the country.

The 32 recommendations received a mixed response from experts and activists, who took issue with various findings, including that officials believed nearly every guidance on trans healthcare to be of “poor quality.”

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A person in a tank top stands outside infront of the Tavistock Centre sign.
The Tavistock Centre was previously the location of the only youth gender clinic in England. (Getty)

Ella Morgan agrees that some of the recommendations are sorely needed, but others are, in her view, questionable.

“I feel what they’ve tried to do with all this is essentially say: ‘This is what we want to offer and that’s all that we’re going to offer’. It’s a little bit like scaremongering, where they’re trying to use certain words or say certain things to scare children from transitioning.”

Ella Morgan says there is ‘a lot more judgment’ towards trans people now

Largely because of the vitriolic treatment of the community by the media and politicians, transitioning has become a different thing since she first started hormones at 17, the star adds.

“Altogether, from seeing my GP to actually starting hormones, I would say it was probably about nine months. But bear in mind that was back when the waiting lists were a lot shorter and life was slightly easier for trans people.

“It didn’t feel you had to go through all these barriers to prove who you are. I don’t know whether I was at a kind of advantage because I’d already decided to transition prior to these appointments.

“The main difference to me is that, if I was trying to transition right now, there’s a lot more judgment and a lot more trying to prove yourself as a person… I don’t feel that there was as much animosity as there is in the current day and age.”

Ella Morgan at the PinkNews Awards in 2023.
Ella Morgan wants trans youngsters consulted and listened to about their own transition. (Getty)

During her consultation with the NHS gender clinic, Morgan saw a psychiatrist once and, after no mental-health issues were found, she was prescribed hormones shortly afterwards.

But, following the rise in anti-trans rhetoric, things have become worse both systematically and socially, she says.

“There [are] lots of opinions and I think things have gotten worse in terms of people’s opinions. The government and the politics behind transitioning is a lot worse than when I transitioned.”

‘I don’t think people should have choices taken away from them’

The findings of the Cass Review are a symptom of that animosity and of institutions trying to take choices away from trans people, she believes.

One of the recommendations with which Morgan agrees is the approach for “individualised care” so that each person’s treatment caters to their own particular needs.

But the issue, Morgan says, lies in what choices are available for trans youth and how much say they have in how decisions of care are made for them.

“I do believe you can offer people all sorts of things but that, essentially, it’s their choice. I don’t think people should have choices taken away from them.

“Yeah, you could offer a [trans child] three, four years of therapy, but if you deny them hormones or any kind of medical intervention, I don’t think that’s fair. It’s not for these people to make that choice, it’s for the family and the child who is transitioning.”

One of the biggest concerns, some people claim, is what happens if its recommendations aren’t fully implemented by NHS England.

Married At First Sight contestant Ella Morgan takes break after transgender abuse
Ella Morgan was the first transgender cast member to appear on Married At First Sight. (E4)

Dr Aiden Kelly, a clinical psychologist and director of the private service, Gender Plus, is concerned by whether the recommended changes would be implemented properly, telling PinkNews that it’s “hard to remain hopeful.”

The regional gender hubs, which have replaced the Tavistock, have already come under fire, with whistleblowers claiming they are “nowhere near ready,” citing a “messy” process and lack of experience among new staff.

Morgan is similarly concerned and urged policymakers to speak to trans youth when implementing these changes, saying they could be life-changing.

“Let us have our voices and be heard and be seen,” she says. “Unless you actually speak to the source and the people going through it, I don’t think you can make recommendations.

“I get completely that people will say the NHS is struggling, all departments have got no money et cetera, but this needs to be taken seriously… trans people have just as much right as anybody else to care and options.

“What I would say to NHS England is that you need to listen to us and hear us rather than going off a report of a cis woman.

“I’m not saying that people who had input in this report are unqualified, but it is fundamentally about trans people. We should be spoken to and listened to, especially trans children.

“The way they’ve seen it is that a child is a child, they can’t speak for themselves, they don’t know what they want and what they’re doing, which, to me, is just an excuse.”