We are writing to you as a matter of urgency concerning an article on the BBC website by Ben Hunte.
Mr Hunte misrepresents the High Court ruling of December 1st 2020 Bell v Tavistock saying that the ruling “restricts children under 16 from accessing “puberty-blocking” drugs.” The ruling in fact centred on the question of informed consent, with the three High Court judges saying that it was ‘highly unlikely’ and ‘very doubtful’ that children under 16 could consent to these drug treatments.
Their carefully worded ruling spelled out that there is no evidence that puberty blockers are ‘fully reversible’ and that they are in fact the first stage of a medical pathway which very few children leave. This fact was confirmed by the Tavistock’s own research, not published until after the court ruling, which revealed that 98% of children who were given blockers as part of their own Early Intervention trial went on to take cross-sex hormones. The court accepted evidence that cross-sex hormones have serious physical consequences, including loss of fertility and full sexual function, with profound long-term risks and consequences.
The court also ruled that treatment with puberty blockers is experimental. The judges’ conclusion was that children cannot consent to life-changing treatment which has no evidential basis.
Mr Hunte repeats throughout the article the unfounded assertion that without puberty blockers children and young people are more likely to attempt suicide. He should know, as a BBC journalist, that it is wrong to speculate about the reasons for suicide. The young people and their parents he quotes all talk about suicide and suicidal ideation as if it is a direct result of not being given puberty blockers. There is no evidence to support this idea as is shown by this research from Professor Michael Biggs. I’d urge you and Mr Hunte to read it.
The article ends by quoting a GP, Dr Adrian Harrop, who has no specialist knowledge of gender dysphoria. Mr Hunte then quotes from a letter from a business called GenderGP which he claims has been seen “exclusively by the BBC”. No reputable news organisation should be quoting GenderGP without referencing the fact that it is run from outside the UK by Dr Helen Webberley, a GP who was linked to one of the four, thankfully rare, suicides by trans-identified young people in the years 2008-18. She is currently suspended by the GMC. She has set up a business selling prescriptions for puberty blockers online. Her activities are now in direct conflict with the UK court which has ruled that these off-label drugs are experimental and have no evidential basis as to their benefits.
While this article remains online, and available to readers of any age, the BBC is in danger of promoting unfounded claims about suicide and promoting an off-shore business selling drugs which the High Court has ruled should only be prescribed after applying to court.
The High Court refused the Tavistock permission to appeal the judgment on 1 December, and the detailed grounds for that refusal are in the public domain. The Tavistock was given until today to apply directly to the Appeals Court for permission to appeal and the Tavistock must now await the court’s decision.
We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.