Welsh parliament to debate the Cass Review

What is the Welsh government’s position on the Cass Review?

Almost two weeks after the publication of the Cass Review’s final report, the Welsh government has yet to make an official statement. But at least we will hear from government ministers during a debate in the Welsh Parliament today.

Welsh Conservative Darren Millar MS, the Senedd Constituency Member for Clwyd West, has tabled a motion that calls on the Welsh government to adopt the recommendations of the Cass Review and ensure that children and parents “are supported with common sense, fact-based guidance”. 

Amendments to the motion have been tabled by both Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour, the party of government. The government’s amendment, while perhaps falling just short of reasonable accusations of being a “wrecking amendment” – a proposal to change the wording of something that essentially renders it useless – does start with “Delete all and replace with…”. It then lists four points for the Senedd “to note”.

It is very welcome that Welsh Labour does indeed note that “there is not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness” of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. But Welsh citizens rightly expect their government to act not just “note”.

There are implications of the Cass Review that require a change of course in health and education policy. The wording of point 4 in the government amendment does not provide any clarity on what will change in schools. It “notes” that the government will “continue to develop the transgender guidance for schools taking account of the Cass review and stakeholder views”. What does this mean in practice? Will the government’s LGBTQ+ action plan be updated to explicitly state that its planned action to “review the Gender Identity Development pathway for young people in Wales” will reflect the findings of the Cass Review?

The government’s amendment:

NDM8563 - 2 | Tabled on 26/04/2024
Delete all and replace with:

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Notes the publication of the Cass review.

2. Notes that NHS Wales commissions gender identity services for children and young people 17 and under from NHS England.

3. Notes that NHS England has concluded there is not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness of puberty suppressing hormones for the treatment of gender dysphoria in children and young people at this time.

4. Notes the Welsh Government will continue to develop the transgender guidance for schools taking account of the Cass review and stakeholder views.

Jane Hutt
Vale of Glamorgan

The Cass Review also has implications for adult gender-identity services. NHS England promptly announced a review of these when Dr Cass’s final report was published – but there are adult gender services in Cardiff which of course fall outside the scope of an NHS England review. To date, the Welsh government, including in this motion, is silent on this. 

Last week Sex Matters, LGB Alliance, Merched Cymru and WRN Wales wrote a joint letter to the Welsh Health Minister, Baroness Morgan, calling on the government to make a statement confirming that it understands the implications of the Cass Review and setting out what actions it will be taking to best support the needs of young people in Wales and commit to a review of adult gender services for Wales, which are based in Cardiff.

We have asked for a meeting with the Minister.

Read the letter…