Care Law and Transgender Children

You may have recently seen a documentary on channel 4, ‘My Transgender Kid’, that followed the lives of two families with transgender children aged 7.

Over recent years, there has been an increase in the number of young people identifying themselves as transgender. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is a specialist service that helps young people and their families when a young person identifies as transgender, it is the UK’s only centre specialising in gender issues for people aged under 18. The Tavistock clinic has received 50% more referrals every year since 2009, from 97 new cases in 2009 to 697 in 2014.

Fortunately, in many of these cases the parents of the young person have supported them in their identity. However, sadly that is not always the case.

In a recent case, a transgender child had parents who did not respect their child’s wishes and feelings or support their child with their gender dysphoria. The child was aged 16, which means that in the eyes of the law they could consent to medical and surgical treatment without their parents’ permission. However, as the child was a looked after child it meant that social services had a statutory duty to consult with and give information to the parents.

The child did not want any information being shared with their parents concerning not just medical treatment, but about their life in general. This meant that a Judge had to decide whether the social services could be relieved of their legal duty to consult with and give information to the parents.

The Judge commented that rather than focusing on whether this case was exceptional (which he considered it was), he would focus on the Article 8 rights of the child and their parents – Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides a right to respect for your private and family life. The parents wished to have updates about their child’s life; the child disagreed with this. The Judge decided that because the child felt so strongly about this, to ignore the child’s wishes and feelings would not be in their best interests. As such, the Judge confirmed that the social services in this case could disregard their legal duty to provide information about the child to their parents.

Cases such as this may become more commonplace now that more young people are openly identifying themselves as transgender. In our care department, Emery Johnson Astills has experience working with young people who are transgender. Emery Johnson Astills is committed to promoting equality and diversity for all and is proud to be known as a LGBT friendly firm and recognised in the Stonewall directory.  The firm is also a signatory to the Law Society Equality and Diversity Charter.

If you require advice on similar issues to those above, do not hesitate to call our care department on 0116 255 4855.

The Care Department at Emery Johnson Astills can also help you with any matter in which social services are involved; please call 0116 255 4855.

If you wish to view the channel 4 documentary you can at: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/my-transgender-kid