Woman Sues Gender Clinic for Pushing Her to Get Transgender Surgery as a Teen
Keira Bell was given life altering surgery at 16 but says she's 'gone down wrong path'
A woman is suing a UK transgender gender clinic after she was convinced by doctors to undergo life-altering gender-reassignment surgery and treatments as a teenager.
Keira Bell, 23, is taking legal action against The Tavistock Centre in London, saying their actions have sent her life irreversibly "down the wrong path."
Bell hopes to stop the clinic from giving puberty-blocking drugs to teenagers over fears the gender-swap treatment she received has likely left her unable to have children.
Speaking before a landmark test case this week against the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust, which runs the NHS’s only gender identity clinic, Keira Bell, 23, Bell says she was given the treatments after being convinced she was really a boy.
The case comes amid a rise in the number of children, particularly girls, asking to change gender.
More than 2,700 in England and Wales were referred to the clinic last year, a twentyfold leap in a decade.
Figures released by the Tavistock show that in the year to March it referred 161 under-18s for hormone treatment to "change" gender.
Miss Bell told ITV's This Morning that she took testosterone, which left her with a deep voice and possibly infertile, and had a double mastectomy - but later realized she had "gone down the wrong path."
"I grew up very gender non-conforming and so that, along with things like sexuality struggles, kind of led to feelings of alienation," she said.
"I just became very depressed in my teens and very anxious and definitely very distressed about my body and all of that kind of manifested into gender dysphoria.
"I was referred on to the CAHM clinic from my GP, which is the child and adolescent mental health service, and very shortly after that, I was referred onto the Tavistock.
"It was just a process for me because I found out how the process went through online forums and things like that so I was already aware of how the process worked.
"It was just a process, I wasn't necessarily happy or felt that I was being listened to.
"I was very focused on getting on the medical path."
MANCHESTER,UK: Keira Bell,23 who began her transition as a 16 year old is suing the Tavistock Center. She claims the gender clinic failed to carry out a proper psychiatric assessment before giving puberty blockers to her. pic.twitter.com/SaPFwsr2kH— Apex World News (@apexworldnews) October 7, 2020
Miss Bell changed her name by deed poll, changed her gender on documents and identified as male, but claimed she did not receive sufficient therapy sessions.
"There was no exploration of the feelings that I had, no psychiatric assessment," she said.
"It was very brief and based on my recent past.
"There was no in-depth discussion," Bell revealed.
"I can see now when I reflect back it was all very rushed, and I wish that there was some psychiatric assessment.
"At the end of the day, I feel like it should have been explored into why I had those feelings and not just accepted for what they were."
She says she was injected with testosterone at age 17 and her body began to change.
"I think I was happy because I thought that I was able to finally move on with my life and live how I was, at the time, thought I was supposed to live my life," she explained.
"So it's not until I have been able to reflect back recently that I realized I was just stunted by the hormones and allowed to disassociate further through that."
She then had a double mastectomy at just 20 years old.
"When you're on that pathway it's hard to come out of that and after those drastic changes have already happened to your body it's hard to basically admit you've gone down the wrong path," she added.
"I'd say roughly a year after my surgery I just started to dissect my mind and how I got to that stage and it was just a lot of reflecting and being very introspective."
Asked about how she felt about the changes now, Miss Bell said: "This is going to affect me for the rest of my life and I have to make do with that and try and accept for how I am now and attempt to move on with that.
"It's true you can't change your sex. You can appear a certain way.
"If you'd had me on a couple of years ago I would have had the same story (as others), saying that it saved my life and I'm in a much better position.
"But the point is that teenagers can't comprehend how it's going to affect their adult life. People may say that it's helped them but for how long?
"For two, five, ten years? It's very flippant."
Miss Bell is now taking legal action against the Tavistock to protect others from going through the same thing as her.
"There needs to be explorative therapy," she said.
"I don't think that changing your body is going to help a psychological condition - that doesn't make sense to me.
"So I think it's important for these children to be protected and to be actually listened to in a professional manner.
"It's difficult for me to put myself in a parent's position or anything that anyone could say verbally to prevent the treatment going ahead.
"I think again it's down to the institutions," she added.
"There needs to be some institutional changes, which is why I'm taking the case, because there's so many factors into why these kids are being influenced to transition, so I think it's very important that institutional changes."
A Tavistock spokesman responded by arguing that life-altering transgender surgeries are "safe."
"GIDS (Gender Identity Development Service) is a safe and thoughtful service which puts the best interest of its patients and their families first," the spox said in a statement.
"We won't comment on the ongoing proceedings and await the judgment of the court in due course.
"Surgical interventions are not available for under-18s.
"They can only be assessed by an adult gender identity clinic."
Miss Bell is taking the gender clinic to court along with the mother of another child who was also impacted by treatments from the clinic.
They say they hope to prevent youngsters from making the same "catastrophic" decisions that they live to regret.