Children should be allowed to change their legal gender without the involvement of medical professionals or parents, says Dentons, and the state should take "action" against parents who attempt to intervene.

The recommendations are contained in a report produced by the firm which its authors describe as a "powerful tool for activists".

"Only adults? Good practices in legal gender recognition for youth" advises campaigners to be secretive about the changes they are lobbying to put into law.

The document was written by staff from the firm in conjunction with Thomson Reuters Foundation and LGBT pressure group IGLYO. Its authors include several Dentons trainees and Lamin Khadar, the firm's Pro Bono Manager. A disclaimer states that it "does not necessarily reflect the personal views of any of the lawyers, staff or clients of Dentons".

Mosaic, an LGBT youth group, contributed to the UK portion of the report, as did an unidentified NGO which "wished to remain anonymous".

The report takes as its basis the assumption that everyone has a 'gender identity', which is defined by LGBT charity Stonewall as a person's "innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth". 

Critics say gender identity does not exist other than as a theory. They argue that the concept reinforces male and female stereotypes, because the only way a person can conclude that they have a gender identity which doesn't correspond to their sex is by reference to external gender norms.

Dentons' report states that every child has an accurate conception of their own gender identity which they should be entitled to affirm in law without impediment. "The right to legal gender recognition is crucial for young trans persons to secure all other rights", it states, advising that the UK should "eliminate the minimum age requirement" at which children can change their legal gender "on their own volition, without the need for medical diagnoses or court determination". The document emphasises that there should be "no eligibility criteria, such as medical or psychological interventions".

And UK authorities should “take action” against parents "who are obstructing the free development of a young trans person’s identity in refusing to give parental authorization when required".


Opponents claim that this radical 'affirmation' approach increases the likelihood of sending confused children on a life-changing medical pathway of puberty blockers and irreversible surgery, which they may come to regret.

Dentons' report states that it is "crucial" that there are "no limitations" to "gender confirmation treatment", including “no requirement to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria”.

At the same time, in a section on tactics, the report advises activists to "de-medicalise" their campaigns "so that legal gender recognition can be seen in the eyes of the public as distinct from gender confirmation treatments". It explains that this is because one of the reasons opponents often cite for “denying such access to minors” is the view that “young people should not have irreversible surgeries until they are of the age of maturity".

Campaigners are also warned to "avoid excessive press coverage and exposure", because the "general public is not well informed about trans issues, and therefore misinterpretation can arise". It describes how activists in Ireland "have directly lobbied individual politicians and tried to keep press coverage to a minimum in order to avoid this issue”. Chances of success are increased if activists “target youth politicians" who in successful campaigns elsewhere in Europe 'brought up the issue at every meeting of any sort - even ones which were not directly relevant, to ensure the issue was at the forefront of everyone’s minds."

The report describes how sterilisation of trans people was once a concern in Norway, and that Norwegian campaigners gained traction by arguing that the human rights of trans people were therefore being breached. Although sterilisation is not an issue in the UK, the report advises activists to nonetheless "use human rights as a campaign point" because of the "political stigma of a human rights violation". Activists are also advised to “tie your campaign to more popular reform”, using it as a “veil of protection”.

Critics of gender self-ID have warned that it will adversely impact women and children in many areas, including rape crisis centres, single-sex hospital wards, women’s sport and identification of discrimination. Dentons' 65-page report characterises their position in two sentences, as concerns which "normally come from women’s groups" about "female prisoners and female public toilets".

Dentons' report also describes critics of gender self-ID as 'TERFs', which began as an acronym for "trans-exclusionary radical feminists" and is understood by many of its targets as a misogynist slur.

When it was asked to comment on aspects of its report, Dentons initially offered up Atanas Politov, its Director for Pro Bono, for an interview. Then it asked for written questions in advance. When these were provided, the world's largest firm by headcount was unable to find anyone prepared to answer them, and gave a general statement instead.

“This report was prepared on a pro bono basis", said Dentons, for which it "offered an analysis of current legal frameworks which regulate gender recognition in several European jurisdictions". Dentons said "the rest of the report was prepared based on interviews with nine different LGBT+ advocacy groups across Europe, who shared their experience in supporting transgender youth and campaigning for LGBT+ rights. These groups provided all opinions on good practices and advocacy, which are contained in the report. Dentons is proud of its work for this and other pro bono clients.”

Tip Off ROF


Orwell 29 November 19 08:43

I realise lawyers think they know everything about everything, but since when has Dentons become experts on the physiology, psychology and sociology behind sex and gender?

a perfectly normal human being 29 November 19 08:52

Good work Dentons. Good to see law firms picking up the baton of trans rights, an important issue.

GC 29 November 19 09:05

Given their history of sex discrimination it’s pretty clear that Denton’s has problems with women. That they would put their name to this muddle headed but of woke nonsense is further proof of that as well as their general lack of good judgement. 

They won’t be getting any instructions or referrals from me. 

Anonymous 29 November 19 09:20

Dentons is being very smart:

Step 1: Get law changed to increase number of confused adolescents having surgery
Step 2: wait for class actions as kids realise they were just confused adolescents and why the hell didn’t any adults stop them?
Step 3: profit

mada 29 November 19 09:21

I used to think I would have no issue at all if my young daughter subverted gender norms. I thought I would be delighted. But to my disgust at myself, I am increasingly relieved that she is (so far) adhering to society’s stereotype of what it means to be a girl, because I would now be so worried that she might start thinking she can’t really be a girl if she likes trousers, trucks, short hair and, god forbid, other girls. I am sickened this debate has forced me to that place.

Elsevier 29 November 19 09:50

Good to see a law firm standing up for an unpopular but important cause. Are we really saying that as a 12 or 13 year old, you should not be able to change your legal gender if you want to? Why are we so threatened by that? The fears around this issue seem to be wildly overblown. 

Anonymous 29 November 19 10:01

What history of sex discrimination GC?

How does the story here prove that they have 'a problem with women?'. It isn't clear from your comment that they do.

Anonymous 29 November 19 10:27

Relatively well balanced article given RoFs transphobic bias however it still refers unquestioningly to claims by anti- trans activists that are not supported by the organisations concerned and/ or have been shown by those organisations to be false. 

Anonymous 29 November 19 10:38

The notion that all parents have their child’s interests at heart is absurd. LGBT kids in particular are frequent victims of parental rejection and abuse. 

Anonymous 29 November 19 10:53

Innate knowledge of gender identity my arse. I’ve convinced my son a fat man flies to our house and squeezes down the chimney every year. I’m positive I could convince him he’s a girl inside.

Anonymous 29 November 19 10:56

This is a manifesto of faux-progressive ideas lifted straight from tumblr. Where are the grown-ups?

Anonymous 29 November 19 11:17


"Step 1: Get law changed to increase number of confused adolescents having surgery"

If you would've actually read the article, you'd know that the report states it sees gender identity as separate from medical treatment and it does not advise any treatment or surgery without permission and/or diagnosis.

Read before you make these sorts of accusations. It's pretty simple.


Anonymous 29 November 19 11:27

It'd be great if RoF could publish an article about trans people and trans rights without revealing themselves to be raging TERFs but they can't. Oh, sorry, was that a misogynistic slur?

Anonymous 29 November 19 11:35

Article refers without context to claims by anti- trans activists that have been proven to false. This is harmful. 

Anonymous 29 November 19 11:43

Well done Dentons for being a strong supporter of LGBT rights and human rights, as every law firm should be. This article is poorly written and deliberately misleading. People should read the legal report for themselves and not assume that this blogger has understood it or the issues.  

Neutral Bystander 29 November 19 11:54

How is the story deliberately misleading anonymous 11.43? I have now read the report and can’t see anything that isn’t taken directly from it. 

Anonymous 29 November 19 12:15

To 1) Elsevier and to 2) Anonymous at 10.38, 29 who said: '1)Are we really saying that as a 12 or 13 year old, you should not be able to change your legal gender if you want to?' and 2)'The notion that all parents have their child’s interests at heart is absurd. LGBT kids in particular are frequent victims of parental rejection and abuse.'

1) It may be that for some OLDER children, changing their legal gender could be the right step. 2)Parents are sometimes unsupportive of LGBT kids - this is sadly true.  However, neither of your two points are relevant to the issue here.

The issue is that they want to take away parental/adult oversight when a child wants to change gender, regardless of their age, parental and expert opinion or other possible issues causing this desire.  The report is based on two huge assumptions that (a) Children know for sure what their gender-ID is at a young age and this is unchanging and (b) affirming a child's gender-ID is the best treatment for a child confused about gender and/or suffering from gender dysphoria. 

As for (a); lots of children suffer gender dysphoria temporarily, resolving their issues by puberty/after puberty etc.  As for (b); many experts argue that this should not be the only option and a non-affirmation wait and watch model of response is safer when dealing with highly impressionable and vulnerable children. Aside from the fact the child may change their mind, they also believe other issues re sexuality, mental health and other co-morbidities should be examined as they are often very relevant. 

A legal change is one of the ultimate ways to 'affirm' that child's new gender. I think you fail to understand that the ramifications of a gender-confused/dysphoric child having their gender ID simply affirmed without waiting or looking at other issues first. The point is that this path may well fail to give due consideration to mental health and social issues, and can ultimately lead to puberty blockers (long-term effects unknown), hormone therapy which is taken for the rest of that person's life (again long terms effects not fully known but include sterility, bone density issues etc).  

I cannot think of another area where such an important issue that has potentially far-reaching medical and psychological consequences is left up to the child alone, without input from the parents or medical professionals. 

BobsUrUncle 29 November 19 12:55

Uhmmm...foot note number 1 in the report: "In this report, by “minors” we generally, but not exclusively, refer to persons between the ages of 16 and 18, as generally legal gender recognition provisions for minors under 18 are limited to minors between 16 and 18. We also refer to “young trans persons” and trans “minors” interchangeably." Title of this article: "Dentons campaigns for kids to switch gender without parental approval" ......

So there. 29 November 19 17:59

I didn't read the article but I'm outraged about something.

I don't know what I want but I want it NOW.

Anonymous 29 November 19 19:07

Fantastic achievement by a transwoman disowned by her family as a teenager and made homeless  as a result. Like so many others all victims of transphobic bigotry.

Anonymous 29 November 19 19:11

Slow-hand clap for 12.15. Congratulations on your role in perpetuating the abuse of LGBT children. You must feel so proud of yourself when you see results like this.

Anonymous 29 November 19 19:14

And for anyone on this board who isn't a titanic bigot and wants to do something to actually help young people who are the victims of parental abuse and rejection here is practical way you can help.


Gertie 29 November 19 22:08

Dear Bobsuncle. The report does define minors as 16-18 year olds. You are entirely correct.

Well almost. Actually it defines them as follows (emphasis mine):

“1 In this report, by “minors” we generally, but not exclusively, refer to persons between the ages of 16 and 18, as generally legal gender recognition provisions for minors under 18 are limited to minors between 16 and 18.”

So minors doesn’t necessarily mean people as old as 16. And the definition explicitly states that that age bracket is used because it is the basis of existing laws relating to legal gender recognition, not because the report thinks that age bracket is appropriate for legal gender recognition.

But, more importantly, the report does not limit its recommendations to minors (16-18). I quote [emphasis mine]:

(This one is pretty much at the top of the report - surprised you missed it, bud!):



2. Eliminate the minimum age requirement.

Yup. Get rid of it. Says it right there...get rid of age requirements for gender self-ID. In the report. Why would you try to obfuscate this? If you think it’s ok, stand by it. Be you, dude. But don’t say it’s not in the report. It’s the freaking title of a section. It’s right there. ELIMINATE THE MINIMUM AGE REQUIREMENT.

And just in case, this is from a bit later: 

“1. Quick and affordable access to legal gender recognition based on the model of self- determination is generally recognised that minors need additional support and care when going through such processes.31

31 TGEU suggests that there is no explicit age restriction for minors for changing their legal gender only when there are no other abusive requirements such as sterilisation, GID /medical diagnosis or surgical/medical intervention. TGEU does not consider parental consent to be such an abusive requirement.”

Translation: ideally, kids of any age should be able to change legal gender without parental consent. 

Please don’t mistake this audience for non-lawyers. We’re bright, we are anal, we see what you’re doing. 

Anonymous 29 November 19 22:21

‘Eliminate the minimum age requirement’ is pretty clear. They are right to say ‘kids’, in that case? Unless I’m misreading the report? Happy to be corrected.  

Anonymous 29 November 19 22:50

19:11 did you read 12:15’s comment? 

Where does the comment say LGBT kids should have less support. In fact the comment says kids with gender dysphoria need a wider variety and more in depth support eg looking at the child holistically, looking at mental health and so on, giving a choice of treatment, listening to the child to examine other potential causes, any related issues...

Why cast a baseless aspersion without saying what you disagree with about the comment or the article - it helps no one and doesn’t add to the discussion. 

Bobsuncle 29 November 19 22:59

Working pretty hard to make that point aren’t you? What is the more obvious way to read the meaning of the report? 

Sharpie 29 November 19 23:17

How exactly would you define “youth”? In the bloody title of the report. And then this article refers to “children”? Ughh. If that’s not intentionally misleading I don’t know what is. Scaremongering. Plain and simple. 

Gertie 29 November 19 23:39

Dear boburuncle


I mean. WHAT

its the title of the blooming chapter  

if you think kids of any age should be able to change their legal gender, cool. Fine. 

If you think they need to be 16+, awesome. 

But why are you trying to argue that the report says they have to be 16+?


It’s such a weird position to take, to say the report doesn’t say what it clearly says.

Why defend the report? Just say what you believe .

Also, i’m really not working hard to prove it. I mean, I guess I took the time to correct you. But to suggest that that makes my point invalid is



Just ban Mumsnet now 30 November 19 06:29

TERF is not a misogynist slur, and if you "understand" it that way then you "understand" it wrong and should make more effort to "understand" words properly. TERFs are exactly what the term suggests and they represent a fringe agenda comparable in its aggressive reactionary fervour to the incels. Goodness knows why ROF has decided to take their side (for the record, this article was anything but "balanced").

Anonymous 30 November 19 07:32

It does seem to be a slur? You prove it yourself by comparing terfs to incels. 

Btw, ordering women to ‘understand’ offensive words as acceptable is classic gaslighting coercive behaviour. 

BobsUrUncle 30 November 19 08:35

“Eliminate the minimum age limit” translates into “children changing gender against parents will” (as implied by the picture in the article) only for the most paranoid of mind.... 

Anonymous 02 December 19 21:58

Why does the report advise smuggling through the law changes without public scrutiny or debate? That appears very anti-democratic to me and begs the question why.

The figleaf of ‘it’s too complicated for the plebs’ is outrageous and, dare I say, rather authoritarian. Which is odd considering this is touted as being a woke and progressive agenda.

Anonymous 03 December 19 15:33

You could make the argument that a law firm advocating changing the law behind a ‘veil of secrecy’ brings the profession into disrepute and should be prosecuted by the SRA. 

Unfortunately the SRA is advised by Stonewall and promoted Mermaids, so I am not confident they have the independence necessary to properly judge whether to bring such a case. What do you do if the regulator is compromised like this? 

okay 04 December 19 07:11

Anonymous @ 15:33 - what do you think the public affairs practice groups of law firms are doing for their corporate clients? In Brussels, London and DC? Do you have the faintest idea what corporate lobbying looks like? How it works in practice? Wake up and smell the coffee sweetie. Study the role of law firms in the tobacco industry or banking or tech. Why shouldn’t NGOs take a leaf out of the only playbook that actually works.

Dearie 05 December 19 10:16

What on earth is going on with the voting/like buttons? Clicked the article and nearly all posts had automatically been up or down voted. 

My only 2p on this debate is that gender 'fluidity' (or whatever the acceptable name is) relies upon reinforcing old fashioned gender stereotypes: kid A born a girl likes trucks, fighting and doesn't like pink things etc and likes being 'a boy' doesn't mean kid A wants to identify as a boy - it just means kid A is not confined by typical female gender stereotypes.

Matt Osborne 05 December 19 19:39

So basically, the gender police want to shove kids down the medicalization pathway while simultaneously removing medicalization requirements for adults. So if you make a grown-ass man take T-blockers in order to compete in women's sports, it's inhumane, but if you gie those same drugs to a 9 year-old without even telling their parents first, it's stunning and woke and brave. 

This is a disaster in the making. Progressive politics will be set back a century for having endorsed this and reactionary elements will exploit the damage for decades.

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