Young trans activists stage four-day protest on ledge of NHS England headquarters

Following the National Health Service’s (NHS) decision to cease prescriptions of puberty blockers for trans youth, Trans Kids Deserve Better occupied the organisation's headquarters demanding equal access to gender-affirming healthcare.

Protesters gather on the ledge of the NHS building with signs of support for trans youth.
Image: Trans Kids Deserve Better, Protesters from Trans Kids Deserve Better occupy the NHS following their decision to cease prescriptions of puberty blockers for trans youth.

On Saturday, June 29, two young activists from the Trans Kids Deserve Better network scaled the NHS England building, beginning the four-day protest calling for equal rights for trans youth. During the peaceful sit-in taking place on a ledge overhanging Waterloo Road in Central London, the advocates hung a banner that read: “We are not pawns for your politics”. 

The protestors remained on the ledge of the NHS until Tuesday, July 2, when they climbed down after 75.5 hours. They had been joined by other activists, also aged under 18, and members of the wider community also gathered to show support.

“The amount of trans joy being hurled up to this ledge is beyond incredible. We’ve never felt more loved or more powerful. The community is rising, and we’re not backing down,” the group said in a statement on Sunday.

After they left the ledge fact, the protestors added: “Going in expecting to be arrested within the first few hours, we came out four days later having centred our message, channelled the amazing love and power of the community, and stood our ground against police intimidation.

“We are not done. This is just a step in a long fight ahead of us, and we plan to continue taking action as a network, to fight for our dignity, voice and healthcare.”


The protest comes after NHS England stopped prescriptions of puberty blockers for trans youth earlier this year. The new restrictions apply to gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues, including medicines that consist of or contain buserelin, gonadorelin, goserelin, leuprorelin acetate, nafarelin or triptorelin. 

The move followed a report first published in June 2023 in which the NHS declared it would stop prescribing puberty blockers to children and adolescents. They claimed that although puberty blockers are physically reversible, the psychological effects are unknown. This has been determined to be untrue according to numerous medical studies

Puberty blockers are known to be an essential part of gender-affirming care and the NHS’s decision to block access to them will impact trans youth in other countries, including Ireland, whose current model for transgender healthcare has been identified as the worst in the EU as of 2022. 


The protest also began just days before the British general elections being held on Thursday, July 4. Throughout this campaign, trans rights have been a key topic of debate.

The day after Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak announced that he had requested permission from King Charles III to dissolve parliament and called for a general election, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins banned the private prescription of puberty blockers to trans children under emergency legislation which was quietly published. If successful in winning another term as polling day rapidly approaches, the Conservative Party additionally plans to amend the Equality Act to remove anti-discrimination protections for trans people, specifically trans youth as reported by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Speaking about the current political climate, the young activists said: “We are staging this protest to remind politicians and voters that we’re real kids, not just political talking points. We may not have a vote, but it is our lives that are at stake.

“Gender-affirming healthcare is a matter of life and death for us, and we hope that our actions will bring awareness to this fact and encourage others to fight for the healthcare and dignity that we are so shamefully denied.”

The young change-makers are not only calling for access to gender-affirming healthcare, but also protection from discrimination and disrespect in their daily lives, as well as the right to have a voice in all decisions that affect them.



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