Jonathan Bartley and Aimee Challenor outside the Department of Health | Photo: The Green Party

 

This afternoon Jonathan Bartley and I took a letter to the Department of Health about the delays faced by trans people wanting to access a Gender Identity Clinic. The letter was signed by Jonathan, Caroline Lucas and I.

 

All NHS Gender Identity Clinics in the UK except for one are failing to meet the NHS’s 18-week referral target, with some patients experiencing waits of more than two and a half years. The extensive wait times for gender identity clinics have a devastating impact on trans people, who already at much higher risk of mental health issues and self-harm.

It’s unclear what the Department of Health is doing to reduce these delays and that’s why we’re here today – to demand answers from Jeremy Hunt and ensure he takes trans people’s needs seriously.

The full letter:

Dear Jeremy,

We write to you regarding the extraordinarily long waits faced by patients who need to see a clinician at one of the UK’s Gender Identity Clinics (GIC).

Last December, it was confirmed that the waiting lists for GICs are subject to the NHS-wide 18 week referral target. A year on, all GICs in the UK except for one are failing to meet that target, with some patients having to wait two and a half years before getting an appointment at a GIC.

Going through the process of transitioning within the NHS should empower rather than demean trans people – yet that’s not the case. Referral delays are having devastating effects on trans people. Rates of self-harm and suicide attempts are significantly higher for trans people, especially those not receiving treatment. In September 2015, Dr John Dean, Chair of the NHS National Clinical Reference Group for Gender Identity Services told the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee that “not treating people is not a neutral act – it will do harm”. Trans people are far more likely to have contact with the mental health system, and are at much higher risk of mental health issues, self-harm and suicidal ideation, than cisgender and heterosexual people.

We would like to know what the Department of Health is doing to actively reduce waiting times and when it expects to meet the 18 week referral target.
Yours sincerely,
Aimee Challenor, Green Party Equalities (LGBTIQA+) spokesperson
Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader
Caroline Lucas, Green Party co-leader

 

This is just some of the work we’re doing during this year’s Trans Awareness Week, being marked from November 13th to November 20th.

About Aimee Challenor

Aimee is a Senior Correspondent for Bright Green and writes on GPEW News, and specialises in LGBTIQA Rights reporting. Based in Coventry, she is studying BA (Hons) History and Politics at the Open University, in her spare time she enjoys photography and is a charity trustee and Volunteer.