Confused 23-Year-Old Transgender Takes Legal Action After Not Being ‘Challenged’
Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should be ALLOWED to.
Keira Bell always felt that she was different from other girls. After reading about the procedure online, the 16 year-old self-proclaimed tomboy decided she wanted to transition from female to male. She says it was “almost like a fantasy”.
Bell: “One Step Led to Another”
Bell sought medical treatment at a northwest London clinic and the process picked up frightening speed. After just three hour-long appointments she was prescribed puberty blockers. These drugs block the hormones that trigger puberty-related changes such as menstrual cycles, breast development, facial hair, and voice breaking.
Puberty blockers are typically given to teenagers with gender dysphoria, a condition where they feel that their self-identified gender does not match their birth sex. Blocking the physical changes of puberty is supposed to give gender-dysphoric teens more time to receive counseling and to weigh possible courses of action.
They remain controversial, because their long-term impact on the still-developing adolescent brain is not fully understood.
A year later, Bell was prescribed the male hormone testosterone. She began to develop masculine characteristics, such as facial hair and a deeper voice. Three years after that, Bell had surgery to remove her breasts.
At first, all was well, and Bell felt she was on the right track to finally being comfortable in her own skin. “…it was saving me from suicidal ideation and depression in general, and at the time, it relieved all those mental health issues I was feeling, alongside gender dysphoria,” she recalls.
“Initially, I felt very relieved and happy about things.”
Regretting a Decision She Shouldn’t Have Been Allowed to Make
But not too long after that, Bell, now a young adult instead of a confused teenager, started to regret her decision. “…I think as the years go on, you start to feel less and less enthusiastic or even happy about things.”
Three years ago, she stopped taking male hormones, and today, at 23, she accepts her life as a female.
With the perspective of adulthood and the benefit of hindsight, Bell now believes she did not receive a proper evaluation or enough pre-procedure counseling to ensure she was doing the right thing. Additionally, Bell now feels that she was far too young to have fully understood the consequences of such a life-altering decision.
“I was allowed to run with this idea that I had…as a teenager…I should have been challenged on the proposals or the claims that I was making for myself,” Bell says. “And I think that would have made a big difference as well. If I was just challenged on the things I was saying.”
Taking Legal Action
Now, that lack of a challenge years ago is at the heart of a new legal action being taken against the National Health Service’s gender clinic. Bell and other claimants are arguing that children are incapable of giving informed consent to any medical procedures that delay puberty or otherwise help them transition from one gender to another.
Even former staff members agree. Some have voiced concern that adolescents wanting to transition are often being prescribed puberty blockers without proper assessments or adequate psychological counseling. In some cases, these drugs have been given to children as young as 12 years old.
As for herself, Keira Bell is both philosophical and regretful about her experience, and she hopes that her story impacts others. “I’m very young. I’ve only just stepped into adulthood, and I have to deal with this kind of burden…,” she muses.
“So I think it’s up to these institutions…to step in and make children reconsider what they are saying, because it is a life-altering path.”