Press Releases and Statements

TransActual statement on NHS England’s decision to stop commissioning puberty blockers

TransActual condemns the new NHS England policy to stop commissioning puberty blockers for trans young people. This is a cruel new element of the war on trans youth. It will irreparably damage people’s health, wellbeing and life chances and departs from international medical practice to pursue a political agenda. In combination with schools guidance that seeks to control the gender presentation of all children, rather than banning conversion practices, government is trying to restrict any kind of transition for young people. 

The majority of trans young people will now be only able to access blockers via private prescription or on the grey market without medical support, creating inequality between rich and poor trans people and leading to riskier approaches. This policy is almost certain to be challenged in the courts both now and in the future, when those young people impacted by this decision seek damages for what it has done to them. After all, there is a group of young people who will have benefited from puberty blockers under the NHS, so a comparison will be easy to make.

We welcome the news that those young people who are already being prescribed blockers will continue to have access to them. A proposed research trial, which would have restricted access to lifesaving medications to a select few, is not mentioned in the policy and it is unclear whether even this unethical attempt at research, which has an unspecified focus, will go ahead.

This policy is being announced a week before the expected conclusion of the compromised Cass Review into gender identity services for young people, which has excluded trans perspectives while giving legitimacy to those opposing trans inclusion. Chay Brown, TransActual’s Director for Healthcare said “This begs the question – why release it now instead of waiting to see what the report actually says? Not least because this decision may contradict Cass, and makes parts of the review irrelevant. With access to puberty blockers now effectively removed from NHS provision, one could be forgiven for wondering what it is those on the waiting list for children and young people’s gender dysphoria services are actually waiting for. What’s behind NHS England’s hurry to publish the policy? Where is their patient-centred approach and their duty of care?”

Alongside school guidance which would see teachers police someone’s gender, these policies taken together do not come from a place of wishing to protect children. The harm which will inevitably follow will be evidence of that. They are a nakedly political attempt to define being trans as an inherently bad outcome and, without evidence, deny the reality of what trans youth are and what they tell us they need. 

In the United States, such attempts to play on parental fears over trans youth have quickly turned into bans on adults transitioning and even bans on drag shows. The  UK government shows signs of wanting to follow suit, revealing the transphobia and homophobia at the core of their work – with a Private Member’s Bill to be debated this week which aims to additionally ban private prescription of puberty blockers, borrows text directly from US bills pushed by extreme right-wing forces. As the UK government target trans youth, we are seeing escalating violence against trans people in schools and in their communities. 

Trans youth are real and their lives are as valuable as anyone else’s. Laws and policing will not stop that from being the case. Trans people will continue to advocate and care for ourselves and each other, and fight for their right to live safely, happily and with dignity, fulfilling our full potential.

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