The care and treatment of children and adolescents in relation to their gender identity in the UK

Current Project

Current project

This project will explore the ethical, social, and legal issues associated with the care and treatment of children and adolescents in relation to their gender identity.

A transfeminine non binary person and transmasculine gender nonconforming person looking at a phone and laughing

Increasing numbers of young people and their families in the UK have been seeking advice and support in relation to gender identity issues in recent years. In autumn 2019, we spoke to a wide range of individuals about the challenges involved in providing care and treatment for young people in relation to their gender identity. From those meetings, it is clear that there are many areas of consensus, but there are also a number of unresolved ethical questions that deserve further consideration.

This project will look in more detail at some of those issues, including:

  • the nature of gender dysphoria and how this affects approaches to care and treatment;
  • the social context within which gender dysphoria and gender incongruence exists;
  • whether existing evidence on medical intervention provides an ethical justification for treatment;
  • current approaches to care and treatment, including the purpose of puberty blockers, the gender affirmative approach, and social transition;
  • the balance of benefit and harm in treatment and non-treatment, and
  • the ability of young people to consent to medical interventions.

During this project, we want to listen to a wide range of views - including those of young people themselves.

Our aim is to contribute information and insight on these issues to inform and support practitioners and policy-makers, to contribute to the broader public debate, and, ultimately, to improve the well-being of gender diverse and gender incongruent children and adolescents by ensuring they receive ethical, appropriate, and high-quality care.

We have launched an open call for evidence (also available to download from the left-hand side of the page. The responses to this call for evidence will form an important step in our evidence gathering and play a significant role in influencing this project and its final conclusions. We will also be undertaking a number of other evidence-gathering exercises to ensure we hear from a diverse range of people.

If you are interested in being more involved in the project, or would like to find out more, please email gender@nuffieldbioethics.org.

Project team

Ruth Campbell

Ruth Campbell

Programme Manager

Ruth is responsible for the Council’s active response programme and its horizon scanning work. Prior to joining the Council in May 2020, she was a Senior Policy Advisor in Medical Ethics and Human Rights at the British Medical Association. She has a BA in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford and an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from King’s College London.

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