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Under 18s may be safeguarded from ‘irreversible’ transgender treatment

June 2020

Elizabeth Truss, Equalities Minister – UK Parliament official portraits 2017
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Youngsters aged under 18 could be stopped from having ‘irreversible’ sex-change treatments, the government has signalled.

The equalities minister Liz Truss said she wanted to ‘protect’ under 18s with gender dysphoria from making decisions which cannot be reversed.

The government is currently reviewing the law on transgenderism, with trans campaigners calling for the rules to be dramatically liberalised.

But there is increasing opposition to the aggressive tone of some trans activists, and widespread concern that youngsters are being pushed too far too soon.

Liz Truss, speaking to Parliament’s equalities committee, said she supports the right of adults to make their own choices.

But she added, ‘I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.’

She also indicated that single sex spaces would be protected, so that women and girls will be safeguarded from men entering private spaces simply by ‘identifying’ as female. James Kirkup, writing in the Spectator, said, ‘Liz Truss isn’t daft. She’s an experienced minister and policy wonk (she used to run a think tank…) who can master a brief. She knows this area well.

‘She has not wandered into the debate about trans children by accident: those words were from her opening, scripted speech to the committee, not an off-the-cuff comment.

‘In other words, the cabinet minister responsible for trans policy has decided to enter the debate about trans children, and to take a side, by questioning the prevailing orthodoxy that has been constructed by campaign groups and some clinicians.’

However, her comments have angered the transgender charity, Mermaid, which is pushing for radically liberal laws. It accused the government of discrimination.

A spokesperson said, ‘The process by which young, trans people access medical interventions is already subject to a number of safeguards.

‘No young person under the age of 16 would typically have access to any form of gender-affirmation surgery and those aged 16 and 17 are subject to the same safeguards any young person would be when making decisions around surgery.’

Pro-family and Christian groups said the government is sending mixed signals regarding its policy on transgenderism.

On the one hand more liberal laws are being proposed for adults, while on the other hand more stringent measures are being considered for under 18s.

The government said it will announce its response to its consultation, together with more detailed plans, ‘by the summer’.