The Tavistock Centre, which runs Britain’s only publicly-funded gender identity development service, is to be sued by up to 1,000 people in a mass class action lawsuit, according to the lawyer behind the case.
Tom Goodhead, CEO of Pogust Goodhead, an international law firm hired by the families of former patients, could not put precise figures on the number of people expected to sue, but said he expected the suit to be very large.
“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,” Goodhead told The Times of London on Thursday.
“We’ve decades and decades of experience in the size of the size of these [class action lawsuit] groups that sign up,” Goodhead told Times Radio.
“It’s difficult because this has been a topic which has been very much a taboo in the public sphere until quite recently and there is a very poor quality of data,” he added.
“The percent of those who have undergone these treatment pathways who subsequently detransitioned or who regret it, or long-term evidence in respect of the effect of puberty blockers and then people who almost inevitably continue on to sex hormone treatment, is still unknown,” he said.
“But even judging from my inbox and the reaction this morning to this, I think this is going to be one of the largest medical negligence scandals of all time,” Goodhead said.
Tavistock Facing Closure
The Tavistock Centre is already facing closure after it was heavily criticised in an official report.
Now the youngsters and their families who are taking the clinic to court claim they were misled by the clinic into decisions which have permanently damaged the health and psychological well-being of themselves or their loved ones.
Tavistock, which runs England’s only publicly-funded gender identity development service, is set to close next spring after an independent review, commissioned by the National Health Service, the UK’s health care provider, and chaired by Dr Hillary Cass, in February 2022, found grave issues around the safety and well-being of children.
The Cass report made clear that staff at Tavistock were affirming troubled teenagers into believing that they had gender dysphoria without using proper diagnostic tools.
“Primary and secondary care staff have told us that they feel under pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach and that this is at odds with the standard process of clinical assessment and diagnosis that they have been trained to undertake in all other clinical encounters,” Cass said.
In recent years, the UK has seen an explosion in the number of children claiming to have gender dysphoria.
In 2021–2022 there were over 5,000 referrals to the clinic, which compares to fewer than 250 referrals in 2011–12.
An important case is Kiera Bell, who was given puberty blockers as a teenager after only three hours of consultation.
Bell won a judgement that children under the age of 16 considering gender reassignment were unlikely to be considered mature enough to give informed consent to be prescribed puberty-blocking drugs.
However, the Court of Appeal overturned the judgement and the Supreme Court denied her permission to appeal.
Civil rights campaigners welcomed the lawsuit.
Jo Bartosch, feminist and gender rights campaigner, wrote on Twitter, “Given the gravity of what’s been done to children it seems wrong to celebrate, so suffice it to say this is welcome news.”
Genspect, an international alliance of professional groups, parent groups, “detransitioners,” and others who seek a rational approach to gender suggested that Britain was leading the way on sex and gender issues.
“Absolute game-changer happening in the UK,” Genspect wrote on Twitter. “Finally the world will wake up to the terrible treatment that vulnerable kids have been subjected to.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to the Tavistock Centre for comment.
Owen Evans contributed to this report.