UK government’s ban on private puberty blockers to be challenged by trans advocacy group

Secretary of Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins.

A major trans advocacy group is planning to take its challenge to the UK government’s recent ban on puberty blockers to court.

TransActual announced on Wednesday (5 June) that it had taken the first steps in an “urgent legal challenge” against health secretary Victoria Atkins’s decision to ban puberty-blocking hormones.

The UK government introduced regulations to outlaw private prescriptions of the physically reversible hormones – given to trans under-18s to halt the effects of puberty – late last month.

Puberty blockers cannot legally be prescribed unless through clinical NHS trials in England, Scotland and Wales. The latest legislation would ban private prescriptions, meaning they would effectively be unavailable anywhere in Britain.

The emergency ban will until 3 September and will apply to UK private doctors and those based in the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Those in breach of the regulations could face up to two years in prison.

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Protestors against the emergency puberty blockers ban.
Protestors make their feelings known about the emergency puberty blockers ban. (Getty)

TransActual described the law as “draconian”, saying it has advised legal representatives to issue a challenge to the regulations.

In its pre-action letter – a formal notice that claimants plan to bring legal proceedings – the organisation argues that the government was not entitled to use the emergency process to impose the policy. It also says there is no evidence within the recently published Cass report, which the government used as justification for the ban, that suggests puberty blockers “create a serious danger to health.”

The letter goes on to say: “Further, and in any event, you acted unfairly and unlawfully in failing to consult appropriate groups or individuals, including the claimant, prior to making the order and regulations.”

TransActual is demanding the government withdraw the regulations and allow private prescriptions of puberty blockers in England.

“This ban risks the safety and wellbeing of young trans people, potentially criminalises healthcare providers and makes the UK one of the most restrictive places in the world for trans healthcare,” TransActual’s healthcare director, Chay Brown, said.

“We believe this will likely lead to further deaths among the trans community, on top of forcing many through a puberty they do not want and will deeply regret.”

The Good Law Project, which is helping raise funds for the legal challenge, said the consequences of the ban would be profound.

“A medicine that young trans people have used for decades, that is lawfully prescribed throughout Europe, that is recommended by decades-old international treatment protocols, that cis people continue to use, and the NHS can continue to prescribe to young trans people if they have already started, will no longer be available,” the political not-for profit group said.

“This ban closes off the only route to treatment left open by the restrictions on treatment in the NHS. Atkins’s shockingly callous decision is likely to lead to further deaths of young trans people. We have received many emails from desperately worried parents.”

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