Trans children could be ‘forced to medically detransition’ under leaked NHS England plans

Leaked NHS England plans suggest thousands of trans children may be left with no choice but to medically detransition – or face safeguarding referrals.

The documents leaked by the Good Law Project and reported by QueerAF state that young people and their families who use “unregulated” and “overseas providers” for gender-affirming care should cease doing so, or they may face safeguarding referrals.

Speaking with QueerAF, Jo Maugham KC – executive director of the Good Law Project – said: “It’s reasonable to describe this as an attempt to force people to detransition.”

The document, which the Good Law Project states does not bear the name of any NHS professional, asks providers of mental health support to children and young people (CYP) to invite those on the national waiting list for gender services for a face-to-face appointment.

“We request all CYP who have been allocated to your service for mental health review are assessed as soon as possible” is what providers are told, with one group asked to be “reviewed and or assessed by… 30 June 2024,” just eight weeks from now.

Trans youth face “threat of a safeguarding referral to social services”

Healthcare providers are then asked to send a ‘Gender Experience Summary Form’ to patients to gather whether they and their families are receiving support from “the private sector or from abroad [such as] hormone treatment”.

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The documents recognises many young trans people will have used “unregulated providers or unregulated sources” to access hormones and named one service, Gender GP, specifically. It said it is the largest “provider” of private gender-affirming prescription cases and because it is registered overseas it is therefore “outside the reach of the UK health regulators”.

Furthermore, at the assessment stage, the providers have been asked to follow recommendations of the Cass Review and advise children not to take puberty blockers or gender-affirming hormones obtained via routes without “appropriate care”.

Whilst it is not stated what “appropriate care” refers to, the “overseas” routes being advised against.

If a trans young person disregards such advice and a provider considers that this “puts the child/young person at increased risk, then a safeguarding referral may also be appropriate in line with standard safeguarding approaches”.

In essence, if a trans young person seeks private gender-affirming care and their parents support them, they could be referred to local authorities.

“It seems to us – and to those inside the NHS who have leaked the document to us – that what purports to be an “assessment” in fact an exercise in bringing very significant pressure to bear on trans youth and their families to cease private treatment, backed up with a threat of a safeguarding referral to social services if they do not,” The Good Law Project wrote in a press release.

In a statement provided to QueerAF following the publication of its report, a spokesperson for the NHS said that this process is about putting in place an “enhanced mental health support offer for all children and young people under 18 on the waiting list for specialist gender services, or who are awaiting their first appointment with the new services.”

They added: “Patients will be given the choice whether they wish to take up this support offer, and whatever the outcome of their appointment with a mental health professional, their place on the waiting list for the gender service will not be affected.”