Stonewall and Mermaids refused permission to intervene in Tavistock case

11 September 2020

Carys Moseley comments on how transgender activists have been refused permission to intervene in a legal case against the Tavistock gender clinic.

Stonewall and Mermaids have been refused permission to intervene in a major legal case against the Tavistock gender clinic (home of the Gender Identity Development Service). The case is being brought by Susan Evans, a former psychiatric nurse and senior clinical lecturer at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. She is joined by Mrs A, the mother of an autistic teenage girl who has been referred to the Tavistock, and Kiera Bell, a young de-transitioned woman who was prescribed puberty blockers at the Tavistock as a teenager.

Judicial review set for 7-8 October

The case was brought with the aim of “asking the judiciary to examine if it is unlawful for children to be asked to give informed consent to potentially harmful experimental drug treatments.” This is undoubtedly because the GIDS has been pushing the boundaries for the last decade. I have previously explained how this has happened since ‘gender reassignment in schools’ was sneaked into the Equality Act 2010 as a protected characteristic.

Susan Evans reveals that medical specialists from different countries have provided the court with witness statements. The three bringing the case in this country have provided evidence to the court about puberty blockers being an experimental treatment. They have also provided evidence to back up their grave worries about the life-long consequences of gender transitioning for teenagers. Finally, they have raised serious concerns with the court about the clinical guidelines used by the GIDS. They argue that it is not science but transgender activism that has shaped them.

De-transitioner’s statement

On 24 January this year, Kiera Bell made a statement explaining her decision to intervene in the case. She says that children and teenagers cannot truly consent to such experimental treatment:

“I have become a claimant in this case because I do not believe that children and young people can consent to the use of powerful and experimental hormone drugs like I did. I believe that the current affirmative system put in place by the Tavistock is inadequate as it does not allow for exploration of these gender dysphoric feelings nor does it seek to find the underlying causes of this condition. Hormone changing drugs and surgery does not work for everyone and it certainly should not be offered to someone under the age of 18 when they are emotionally and mentally vulnerable. The treatment urgently needs to change so that it does not put young people, like me, on a torturous and unnecessary path that is permanent and life changing.”

Bell’s argument has received considerable media coverage this year and has helped give a voice to the anguish and concerns of young people around the world who are suffering from mental confusion. Thus, the outcome of this judicial review will be studied keenly in countries where there is also mounting public concern.

Stonewall and Mermaids refused permission to intervene

Evans reveals that many organisations have wanted to be involved in the case. The implication is that this refers to third party interventions. The gender-critical feminist organisation Transgender Trend, which has done so much to investigate transgender policy, has been allowed to take part. Mermaids and Stonewall, both of whom strongly support puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, have been denied permission.

It is interesting that neither the website of Mermaids nor that of Stonewall mention this humiliation. More troubling is the fact that the press has not mentioned it, with the exception of The Christian Post in the USA.

Former Lord Chief Justice confronted violent transgender activist

In fact, this isn’t the first time that a judge has rejected transgender activists’ intervention in a transgender rights case relating to adolescence. In March 2017 the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas struck down a judicial review brought by a violent female-to-male offender against Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

In this case, in April 2010 the offender was convicted of grievous bodily harm against a 12-year-old boy. The offence happened on 17 March 2009 when the offender was 15 years old. The offender was sentenced in October 2010 to a hospital order with restrictions under the Mental Health Act and was referred to Broadmoor. The reason for this was a combination of paranoid schizophrenia, emotionally unstable personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder. The offender challenged this decision saying it breached the European Convention of Human Rights. An initial judicial review was rejected, the offender was convicted of a new offence, and again sentenced and referred specifically to Broadmoor. A new petition for judicial review was successfully lodged in 2016. Permission for this was given by a single Lord Justice. Treatment at Broadmoor was fairly successful, but in accordance with personal demands the offender was moved to a Medium Secure Unit instead.

Lord Thomas rebuked transgender activists

Ruth Hunt, then CEO of Stonewall, Terry Reed from GIRES, and Stephen Whittle, professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, made third party interventions in the judicial review heard by Lord Thomas in March 2017. Lord Thomas dismissed their interventions as unhelpful as they were not based on psychiatric expertise. Here is what he said (section 62 of his judgment):

“There was also a statement by Professor Stephen Whittle, professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University; although helpful in providing background on transgender issues, it was of no relevance at all to the issues before the judge as he had no medical qualifications. The same observations must be made in respect of the statements of Ruth Hunt and Terry Reed.

Surely Lord Thomas cannot have been the only member of the judiciary to realise that transgender activists are not psychiatric experts.

Lord Thomas dismissed Charing Cross gender clinicians

Lord Thomas also criticised those supporting the offender’s referral to the Charing Cross gender identity clinic, who had ignored the expert advice of the forensic psychiatrists who had treated the offender. Supporters had made the argument that the real problem was gender dysphoria. What this means in transgender activists’ mindset is that the individual should be allowed to change gender regardless of psychiatric concerns.

“The claimant’s mental condition was not attributable to a failure to treat his gender dysphoria; he had a clear and long standing diagnosis of personality disorder with psychotic episodes and possible schizophrenia. On the facts, I am entirely satisfied that the first step was to treat his mental illness so he had a period of stability which would enable his gender dysphoria to be treated. The evidence of the treating psychiatrists is clear and to be preferred to that of Dr Barrett and Dr Page who had significantly less knowledge of the claimant than the highly experienced psychiatrists who treated him at the Bracton Centre and who assessed him for Broadmoor. In particular, the criticisms made by Dr Page of the staff at the Bracton Centre were in my view entirely unfair and without justification. It was entirely wrong of her to characterise the staff at the Bracton Centre as being “unsympathetic”. It is to be noted that none of those who provided reports that were submitted on behalf of the claimant was in a position to or was prepared to treat him.”

What goes unmentioned in this stinging rebuke is the fact that Charing Cross would probably have given this offender testosterone in order to live as a man. This would have likely made the offender even more violent. Lord Thomas’ silence on this is undoubtedly symptomatic of the self-censorship already at work among the judiciary. This would be linked to judicial training promoting transgender awareness.

Lord Thomas rebuked the judiciary

In his introduction to the judgment, Lord Thomas rebuked the judiciary and the Legal Aid Agency as follows. First of all, he clearly understood that this was a case of strategic litigation:

“Despite the significant cost to court time and in fees to lawyers, we were told its continuation was justified. It was asserted that as the relief claimed before us was a declaration, it was important for others, who might suffer from transgender dysphoria, to have the decision of the court as to how anyone detained in a psychiatric hospital in circumstances similar to the claimant should be treated for the future.”

He then said that the judicial review should never have been granted:

“I consider that these proceedings should never have been pursued before this court. I would dismiss them without hesitation for the reasons I will express. However, I do need to set out the facts in some detail to show how diligently the doctors and trusts concerned had tried to treat the claimant, how carefully they had taken the decisions and how wholly unjustified is the criticism to which they have been subjected. It is readily apparent that in such a case, the very substantial expenditure that the pursuit of this or similar claims entails, is a highly detrimental distraction to the proper operation of the National Health Service and has caused the expenditure of substantial sums which could and should have been used instead for the treatment of patients.”

Finally, he had stern words for the Legal Aid Agency:

“As these were proceedings brought through legal aid, the Chief Executive of the Legal Aid Agency should ensure for the future that the Agency carefully examines the circumstances in which the Agency allows such cases to be pursued, particularly to this court, given the very significant costs that the NHS incurs as a result, quite apart from the need carefully to use the small resources that Parliament has made available for legal aid. We direct that a copy of this judgment be sent to the Chief Executive.”

Is transgender judicial training being questioned?

Lord Thomas’ remarks clearly show that transgender activism had annoyed the highest levels of the judiciary. This should have been front page news in Fleet Street but it wasn’t. This pattern of not reporting on judges’ snubbing of activism needs to change. The press has a moral duty here given the duty to report accurately and impartially.

Now that both Stonewall and Mermaids have been banned from intervening in this case, this raises another question. What is the impact of judicial training on the handling of transgender rights cases? Are some judges starting to fight back against it? Part of the problem is that there is no publicly available information as to which organisation developed transgender awareness training for the judiciary. The Judicial College has not replied in time to a Freedom of Information Request on the subject this year.

The outcome of this judicial review may have an impact on healthcare policy. In the meantime, it is important to watch out for attempts elsewhere to undermine the therapeutic help that the three bringing the case want to see.

Northern Ireland government wants ‘conversion therapy’ ban

On Wednesday it was announced that the government of Northern Ireland would bring in a ban on ‘conversion therapy’. If the case against the Tavistock is won, this could lead to a clash between the Northern Irish government and the UK legal system. For it is easy to see that governments that want to ban ‘conversion therapy’ will support puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones for adolescents instead.

Transgender activists have been very busy in Northern Ireland recently, exploiting Whitehall’s stalling of gender recognition reforms. The Northern Irish government needs to be confronted over its arrogant virtue-signalling. The case of the anonymous offender against Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, and now the Tavistock case, should serve as a severe warning to the Northern Irish government not to create more problems within its own jurisdiction.

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