A 14-year-old transgender teen is taking legal actions against NHS England following delays to gender reassignment treatment.

A teen known as “Reece” was referred to Britain’s only youth gender identity clinic in 2019. Now, the 14 year-old has been told there is another year-long wait to receive treatment.

Represented by the Good Law Project, a legal charity, the organisation claimed the NHS were breaching its waiting time rules that guarantees patients access to care within 18 weeks. They added that this delay is causing the teen “distress and uncertainty”.

Following the complaint, an independent review has been confirmed to go ahead and further explore “the issue of youth gender care referrals”.

An NHS England spokesperson has confirmed the review will also look into “how and when children and young people were referred to specialist services”.

Since 2013, the NHS facility has seen “a 500% rise in the number of children and young people being referred to the Tavistock’s gender identity service” as more patients come forward for referrals or individuals are accepted for treatment.
Britain’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), which is run by London’s Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, received 2,560 child referrals last year. However, it is not uncommon for those referred to the clinic to encounter unusually long waiting times. Trans rights campaigners  have stated the wait to receive specialist care could have a serious impact on mental health of the youngsters who are left in the lurch.
Lui Asquith, Director of Legal and Policy at the trans children and families’ charity, Mermaids has offered a statement condemning the “national scandal”.
“Every day, we see the terrible impact of GIDS delays on young trans people,” Lui said. “It is a national scandal that they’re being asked to wait two years or even longer to see a specialist and gain support, when NHS guidelines state patients should wait no longer than 18 weeks.
“For those with gender dysphoria, waiting such a long time under considerable distress is extremely damaging to their mental and emotional wellbeing. It is a desperate reflection of the pressure staff at GIDS are under, that this case is being brought and we hope it will be heard, not just by the judiciary, but by those who choose where NHS priorities lie.”

Good Law Project director Jolyon Maugham said there had been “a real pushback against trans rights” in Britain.

“Those who have a political interest in the space are projecting their politics onto the bodies and the lives of children, in a way that I think is profoundly morally objectionable,” he reiterated.

The teenager at the center of this pressing NHS England case spoke to the BBC about the legal action taking place. Reece admits legal action is not something he would’ve liked to go ahead with as “nobody else is sticking up for trans young people”.

“I know more than 30 trans people, from school and LGBT groups. Everybody’s been waiting for months, or even years, but nobody’s been able to get in yet,” he said.

“It’s scary because it shows the service isn’t available to the people who need it.”