UK gender clinic scandal sparks class action moves in UK and Australia

Thousands of ‘gender clinic’ patients in the UK and Australia are considering legal action.


Lawyers say Australian gender clinics may face legal action after it was revealed that Britain’s Tavistock clinic may be sued for medical negligence by up to 1000 youngsters who claim they were “started on a treatment pathway that was not right for them”.

Compensation law firm Gerard Malouf & Partners is considering the feasibility of a similar class-action lawsuit in Australia, according to The Australian.

The Times reports that Pogust Goodhead, a law firm, has “announced it is pursuing a group litigation order against the [Tavistock] trust, which has treated 19,000 children with gender dysphoria since 1989,” and that papers will be filed with the High Court within six months.

According to lawyer Tom Goodhead:

Children and young adolescents were rushed into treatment without the appropriate therapy and involvement of the right clinicians, meaning that they were misdiagnosed and started on a treatment pathway that was not right for them. These children have suffered life-changing and, in some cases, irreversible effects of the treatment they received… We anticipate that at least 1,000 clients will join this action.

According to University of Queensland law professor Patrick Parkinson:

I’m expecting to see it here [in Australia], I’m expecting to see it against hospitals and against individual doctors. Sooner or later, this is going to end up in the courts as a negligence issue.

I think Australian gender clinics apart from Sydney are probably less conservative and less cautious than the Tavistock was. The decision of the British government raises serious questions about the continuation of the model in Australia and really justifies a major inquiry being set up.

The results of the closure of Tavistock is going to be that a mental health approach will be the first line, and I suspect that ­puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones will only be prescribed as a last resort in the most serious cases where psychotherapy does not prove to be effective.

As reported by BBC News, an independent review by Dr Hilary Cass found that the UK NHS Tavistock gender transition clinic had sidestepped the “normal quality controls that are typically applied when new or innovative treatments are introduced” and that the experimental hormone treatments currently on offer are “not a safe or viable long-term option” for children and young people. 

The February 2022 interim report stated that clinicians often “feel under pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach … at odds with the standard process of clinical assessment and diagnosis.”

The review found limited evidence of documented neurodevelopmental or psychological assessments, even as the majority of the children presented with mental health needs. The report says that a third of those referred to
the NHS service have autism or other neurodiversity.

Queensland paediatrician Dylan Wilson told The Australian that many Australian patients may have legal recourse:

One hundred per cent, there are children who have been harmed.

Even if they think it was worth it at the time, there are children who have suffered infertility and sexual dysfunction as a result of treatments and they may only be realising that now.

If you’re puberty-blocked at an early stage, there are inevitable consequences. You can’t not be infertile if you’re puberty-blocked in the very first stages of puberty.

The standards of care have never been held in high regard outside of gender clinics themselves.

They publish their own ­papers and they say the paper we publish is evidence that what we’re doing is right.

They write the guidelines and they say ‘We’re following the guidelines’.

These are not internationally accepted guidelines.

PROTECT BEST CARE IN AUSTRALIA

A report by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute proposes to restrict parents and medical practitioners’ capacity to choose what it is in the best interest of children and their patients.

The proposals would potentially criminalize parents and medical practitioners if they portray a “protected attribute” as a fault that is changeable or should be changed.

Act now by visiting our campaign page: ValuEdVoices.org.au/Tas2022

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