Transgender children may be banned from getting gender reassignment surgery, the equalities minister has signalled.
Liz Truss said she wanted to “protect” under 18s with gender dysphoria from making those “irreversible decisions”.
Under the existing Gender Recognition Act, a trans person has to undergo a two-year waiting period and a review from a specialist panel before being able to change their gender legally.
People under the age of 18 are allowed surgery with parental consent.
But the process is so long drawn out that in reality few teenagers are able to undergo gender confirmation surgery before they reach adulthood.
A public consultation was set up two years ago into changing the law but the government’s response has yet to be published.
Ms Truss vowed her response would be released this summer but hinted at its recommendations.
“I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit,” she told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.
“But I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.
“Of course some of these policies have been delayed by the specific issues around COVID-19 but I can assure you that alongside the COVID-19 work, our officials continue to do those things to make them happen.”
The charity Mermaids, which supports children questioning their gender along with their parents, said it would be “extraordinary” if Ms Truss introduced “a new form of inequality into British medical practice”.
It said NHS statistics show the number of people who have regrets after having undergone the surgery is “very low”.
“The process by which young, trans people access medical interventions is already subject to a number of safeguards,” a spokesperson for the charity said.
“No young person under the age of 16 would typically have access to any form of gender-affirmation surgery and those aged 16 and 17 are subject to the same safeguards any young person would be when making decisions around surgery.”
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