The UK Government is killing trans people

I do not make such claims lightly but I can’t keep quiet this time. The UK Government is killing trans people. David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, Simon Stevens, virtually every single politician and the NHS are all complicit in the deaths of transgender people in the UK. They are responsible for the broken lives of the families and friends of gender variant people, it is their fault that the mental health concerns of gender variant folk are ignored and exacerbated, forcing people like me into ever worsening positions, marginalised by the very people who are supposed to look out for us.

NEARLY HALF OF YOUNG TRANSGENDER PEOPLE HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE read the shocking headline in The Guardian today.

A survey found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the last year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so.

By comparison, about 6% of all 16- to 24-year-olds say they have attempted suicide, according to the Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey.

The figures on suicide attempts by trans youth were higher than those found in previous studies across all age groups. A US study in 2006 found that 32% of all trans people had tried to take their own life. And the Trans Mental Health Study of 2012 (pdf) found that 35% had attempted suicide once, and 25% a second time.

The Pace research also found that 59% of transgender youth said they had deliberately hurt themselves, compared with 8.9% of all 16- to 24-year-olds.

The thing is though, these figures are not shocking to trans people, there have been studies that show time and time again how we are many orders of magnitude more likely than anybody else to attempt suicide, harm ourselves and have our mental and physical health suffer. We know these dreadful figures all too well, we live this every single day of our lives.

Imagine if the headline read “almost half of nurses have attempted suicide” there would be headlines on BBC news, outpourings of support from charities and everyday people. Instead the above Guardian article didn’t even make their front page, it’s hidden away under a ‘transgender’ section where only the people who have searched for it can find it.

The reasons why transgender people try to kill themselves are also well known, the NHS failing to properly fund gender identity clinics despite clear increases in demand, 11% year on year increase in referrals by GP’s and a 50% year on year increase in referrals for people under 18 to these clinics. The waiting lists have spiralled out of control, people now regularly wait more than 18 months to even see a gender specialist, waiting times for surgery are even more out of control, the doctors acting as gatekeepers, making us jump through impossible hoops to fit their dangerously outdated definitions of what it means to be transgender and worthy of their treatment.

People are dying and the government doesn’t care. Any human with an ounce of decency would read these figures and be shocked to their core yet the people in charge of gender identity services do nothing. You would think that the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt would be shocked to hear how high the attempted suicide rate is for trans people, you’d think that these numbers would be so shocking to see that the head of the NHS, Simon Stevens would implore PM David Cameron to take action to stop the harm that is being suffered by UK transgender people, you’d think that any MP would kick up a fuss about this, you’d think at least something would be done, wouldn’t you?

The UK government is killing trans people by their inaction, it is the governments fault that the NHS gender identity services are in a chaotic crisis and failing UK trans people, it is their fault that our mental health needs are ignored, the government is responsible for the shattered lives of so many people.

41 thoughts on “The UK Government is killing trans people

  1. What more can I say. All true and with such clarity that no one could ignore it but I'm site they will. The NHS like the HIV would just love trans people to go away and die. All that matters is cost savings and supporting the heterosexual patriarchal order of things.

  2. Extremely well put, thank all the gods I went through the system this 'FUBAR' I have some trans friends who are on the edge, I try help with a smile but the system as it stands needs looking at discussing and updating fast. Imagine if there were only 3 heart surgery Doctors in this country, it would cause national outrage. o_O

  3. I was so lucky to have had surgery when I did. Best advice is stay strong write those letters emails phone calls etc don't sit back. Make yourself heard and demand attention, I did. 🙂

  4. I was so lucky to have had surgery when I did. Best advice is stay strong write those letters emails phone calls etc don't sit back. Make yourself heard and demand attention, I did. 🙂

  5. I had my first appointment at Charing Cross today. I received my referral to them on the 27/08/13.

    The lovely chap I saw today told me that he believed I should receive hormones much sooner than the system would allow him.

  6. Well put I feel very lucky that I started my journey last February and soon to have my health check with surgeon,I am going to gender identity workshop next thurs27 nov and expecting it to be very emotionally charged .

  7. This is the problem with our relative invisibility as a group. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve overheard people in public loudly bang on about how their tax money shouldn’t fund ‘sex changes’ for ‘perverts’, ‘poofs’ and ‘nutters’… usually, but not always, with a copy of The Sun or Daily Mail tucked under their arm.

    If the government are seen to be funding care for those a vocal portion of society deem unworthy of it, it will bring criticism upon them which is usually jumped on by a merciless tabloid media.

    However, a recent conversation with a Doctor at Nottingham GIC brought up an interesting point… that in his career he has seen the number of people seeking the NHS’ gender services has increased by 900% and it continues to rise.

    How long can a government palm off a group of people with the bare minimum in funding and support before public opinion switches from ‘Why should I fund it?’ to ‘Why are you neglecting these people?’. Sadly for us, I think we have another decade or so hard campaigning and creating positive visibility before the government will step up to its responsibility.


  8. Very well put. I was referred to CX in 2011 and the ensuing stress and shenanigans has caused the worst time of my life. I've finally given up with them and gone down the private route, though after the stress of being a CX patient being largely responsible for several suicide attempts this year, I wish I'd gone private at the beginning (by which I mean self-pay, since no insurer will cover it).

    I feel bitter about the way I've been treated by CX and the inconsistency with the way they deal with patients, but hopefully once it's over and done with I can get on with my life again. Someone really needs to do something about them, though: although they use lack of funding as their usual excuse, it doesn't explain the admin problems, attitude problems and generally being obstructive and difficult, it doesn't explain last-minute cancellations "due to a meeting" for an appointment months in the making, it doesn't explain turning up to an appointment only to be told the clinician isn't even in the country, and doesn't explain having to see the lead clinician after being referred so he can "review" (i.e. veto) the referral on a whim. What a complete and utter shambles.

  9. When you've got an NHS that's stretched to breaking point, then services to minority groups are going to be the first to go. Additionally, there's no 'out of the box' thinking that could help mitigate the issue. Right now, any person who has issues with gender identity can go on the waiting list for a GIC or pay for private counselling and that's not just wrong, its monstrously inefficient. We know that at least 20% of people referred to CX wont go through transition – they're people like me who can deal with lesser levels of GD or whatever with some help from people qualified to do so. I was lucky enough to be able to pay for private counselling and thus remove myself from the pool of people needing the services of a GIC. If counselling were available via the NHS, you could effectively reduce waiting lists by 20% for a start and give people in the early stages of transition the option to work on some of their issues without having to trek half way across the country to get to places like CX.

    • 20% don’t transition but still need help, getting counselling is a lottery and very hard to find.
      the system almost encourages people to self med to cope as getting ref to a clinic is a lottery, depending who you see. training needs to start with local services at the first point of patient contact, so many gp’s and dare I say mental health pro’s that you have to see seem to have little or outdated knowlage of trans people or issue.

  10. If any responsible people had any idea of what it is like to not only live with our condition but also be consciously aware of how out of control the whole GIC system is, maybe we would not be in this position. Because I put someone else before myself, I am probably 35 years behind in when I would have wanted to be at the mercy of the GIC but, because the specialists know how little resource they have to make exceptions for older people, they cannot even make a gesture of hope to us. Knowing the delays and knowing how old I will be if and when my time comes to be able to have GRS makes me feel physically sick. There doesn’t seem to be much talk about older people and pre GRS suicide but the only consolation is that if the system fails people like me, we will only be throwing away an old life and not years of transitioned happiness ahead..

  11. When I was young I searched for help but there was nothing for people like me, there was plenty for women and the impression I got was, your a man and you are expected to stand on your own two feet, well I managed to struggle through but I know quite a few who didnt and, they killed themselves, that is very sad, but I dont know what the government can do to help, all I can say is it does get better as you get older so hang on in there.

  12. When I was young I searched for help but there was nothing for people like me, there was plenty for women and the impression I got was, your a man and you are expected to stand on your own two feet, well I managed to struggle through but I know quite a few who didnt and, they killed themselves, that is very sad, but I dont know what the government can do to help, all I can say is it does get better as you get older so hang on in there.

  13. Well said. If people with any other medical condition were suicidal at this rate because of lack of treatment, that would be even more stark than the nurses example. Society still largely thinks that gender dysphoria is psychological and that treatment is an optional nice-to-have (because they just don’t “get it”).

  14. i also had absolutely no help nor anyone to speak to when i was young and no internet.. cant say i was happy at all but worked through it very slowly .. i think i finally have the right balance now with the help of friends.. i dont think one can blame the NHS, it is much more societal/cultural and a trans world that often feels narcissistic, obsessed by terminology and/or is only too ready to encouarge others to take hormones and surgery from which there is no turning back.. that is my bleak view i am afraid 🙁

  15. Not enough has been done from this Government for anything other than help themselves. I will be reading the comments as am attending a NHS gender id work shop. My own experience is the is not enough after care from CX which appears to set ppl up to fail.

  16. Hi Sarah – thanks for writing this. Really important to remember the UK government is also do exceptionally well at killing the means for surviving for the poorest trans people in this country, and also those with disabilities. The number of people who have died as a result of having their welfare cut is in the 10000s thousands – numerous trans people with disabilities are struggling as a result of ConDem policy (although Labour have yet to say they would act otherwiser). Numerous trans people are struggling to pay bills and facing homelessness due to having their housing benefits sanctioned, their JSA denied for petty reasons. There’s also a disproportionate number of LGBT people (particularly youth) who are homeless, (estimates of around 25-40% of homeless youth IDing as LGBT).

    Its really important to understand that austerity measures are destroying both the services – like the NHS – we directly need to survive, and the material means of this survival too. Its not like the economy is going to save those who are most in need of support, and most in need of a different world.

  17. Can’t disagree with any of this.
    I was referred to Leeds GIC in November 2013.
    Was told, on making enquiries, that provided their budget isn’t cut again I may, if I am lucky, get a first appointment in 2016.
    I get the impression that somebody somewhere has got it in for me big style.

  18. Dear Sarah I worked for the NHS recently in various admin capacities and services are stretched to breaking point. Strong nursing staff have been in tears because of the pressures. I am trans and followed the Charing Cross Hospital path many years ago (early 1980s). I paid privately for my first appointment – just to be seen sooner – and when interviewed the consultant offered me all further treatments on the NHS. Then as now there were months between each appointment and little support pre and post treatment. I was lucky to be working and for my employers to be supportive. Incredibly lucky given the climate of the time in which I found the courage to follow the path. I thought to myself this is life threatening to me but not strictly a terminal condition: I will save up and pay for my own surgery. It was so tough and I worked every hour of overtime offered but I did it. The NHS is an absolute jewel in our country and we are all in fear of losing it because the premise of “free treatment for all” is in much need of reform. Our country is full to bursting point and the population we have got need nursing and policing. This is something the government gave scant regard to when they considered their immigration policies. Those in a position to pay for their treatment, especially expensive surgery for ANY condition should pay or be invited to contribute. If this policy were adopted the need for clinicians to have to choose who gets help and how soon who be lessened. Of course many trans people find it difficult to find employment and should received free treatment but there are surely some among those seeking treatment who could fund themselves. Surely this would help?

  19. I have been left to die, with serious injuries to my legs, a perforated ulcer which is bleeding, and possible skin cancer. The biggest insult, not one of our organisations , Gires, stonewall , press for change, gallop etc want to help.

  20. I hate this. I just need the future when governments aren't stupid anymore. People that have cancer get treatment so STOP IGNORING HUMANS THAT ARE TRANSGENDER UK. YOU CAN NOT ARGUE THAT IGNORING US ISN'T DEADLY. IF YOU DID YOU WOULD BE WRONG. YOU ARE WRONG. GET YOUR SH!7 TOGETHER.

  21. Alex Johnson Show me where I said that , perhaps I should have said "SOME" young people, I didnt think I was being offensive, I had a young friend who used to come home from Charing X, crying because they had been so nasty with her and I said the doctors have to be sure your right thats all, sorry if you felt offended.

  22. These are attempted suicides. I’m sure with actual suicides taken into consideration the figures would be higher. Unfortunately, it’s too complicated to capture this data.
    I’m not even going to bore you with my tales of woe accessing the NHS services, and I’ve not even had my first GIC appointment yet!!
    I hold higher contempt for our population at large, who continue voting for parties whose sole interest is preserving the wallets of the super-rich, and won’t allow higher wages for normal people that will mean more tax is collected to pay for services like the NHS.

  23. Totally agree with this. In many ways I’ve been so lucky. I suspect the suicide rate will be understated due to a proportion who succeed. Part of the problem is the attitude propagated and persisted by the tabloid press that IPSO seem to be as blind to as the PCC which continues to pervade society at large thanks to David Cameron’s decision to ignore the findings of Leveson inquiry.

    I was lucky enough to able to fund my own treatment after wasting over six months in 2011 just trying to get an appointment via the NHS. However I’m now stuck with a complication due to negligence of the UK surgeon who I have no confidence in & refusal of help from my GP.

  24. There was no help or internet for my generation just bad publicity asked for help from hm forces was informed I was perfectly normal and offered EST ( electric shock treatment )

  25. I’m happy to find your blog … Watched with great interest the excellent series that you participated in, along with the other lovely people. I shared it to a FB group that I belong to (West Coast for Transgender Children). I live in BC Canada. I have lived in the UK and I was very fortunate to have had the NHS there when I needed kidney surgery. Sadly, in the 25 odd years later since returning home, I continue to see more and more disheartening articles, mourning the demise of the NHS. Again, as with all things government funded … Read … TAXPAYER FUNDED … entities will push and push until there’s a definitive no bs pushing back … And that is what it’s going to take to get the attention & funding needed for all minority health care, transgender included. I am not surprised … The UK is uptight about sexual anything … It’s all ok as long as it’s not discussed or brought into the light of day. Very very British. Well time to wake up now. Time to take a good look at the real economics of not providing the appropriate services to the transgender community at large … High costs which could quite easily be reduced by providing the care required for transgendered individuals to live a full and whole life, who want to contribute and be a part of the global fabric … it is their right as human beings. Full stop. Look at the Northern European, Some Asian and South American countries. They are extremely forward thinking, they do not bring religion or judgement into play. If one fully understood the biology and physiology at source … Ignorance and apathy have no place in the NHS. Time to get out there and make it known.

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