People who are seeking gender reassignment surgery or who have had the surgery have taken to twitter to complain about the treatment they have received from GPs and other health care professionals.
Complaints range from GPs dismissing patients’ desire to begin gender reassignment, to stereotyping and prejudice, revealing an alarming amount of discrimination throughout the medical profession.
Using the twitter trend “TransDocFail” (transgender doctor failures), the stories are coming in thick and fast across the country describing poor treatment by doctors.
One Twitter user tweeted, “With that doctor, I was required to undergo unnecessary medical exams to receive HRT, e.g. regular orchidometer checks.”
One person tweeted that they were told, "You’re going to be an ugly woman".
Another claimed that, “GP thought depression was 'normal' given my being trans & thus ADs pointless. Even though they alleviate the depression.”
Similarly, a tweeter said that they were told, “I saw 3 psych pro's about being trans, they ALL told me I was just depressed and to get a job and I'd feel better.”
One person tweeted, “When I first attempted suicide crisis point of trans transition [sic] 6 yrs ago a&e had me in and out like conveyor belt no support”
Christine Burns, a political activist best known for her work for transgender people and her campaign Press for Change, joined in the tweeting.
She said, “This afternoon's flood of pain and anger expressed through #TransDocFail cries out for response from my NHS colleagues. Silence says it all.
“The #TransDocFail is an object lesson in how stigma, discrimination and poor clinical behaviours can and do go hand in hand.”
However, not all the stories are negative, with one person tweeting that they had had a more positive experience.
“The people at my docs are lovely. When I started going they asked me what I was changing my name to and they were very smiley.”
Not all complaints were against GPs, with one individual tweeting, “Psych[iatrist] invented name to call me because I wouldn't tell him my birth assigned name”.
The Department of Health estimates that 1 in every 11,500 are transsexual, and released a 2-page leaflet entitled An introduction to working with Transgender people
in 2007, aimed at ensuring “that Transgender people do not experience discrimination and prejudice in service delivery”.
The GMC has quoted from their guidance Good Medical Practice
, which advices GPs that, “The investigations or treatment you provide or arrange must be based on the assessment you and the patient make of their needs and priorities, and on your clinical judgement about the likely effectiveness of the treatment options.
“You must not refuse or delay treatment because you believe that a patient's actions have contributed to their condition. You must treat your patients with respect whatever their life choices and beliefs.
“You must not unfairly discriminate against them by allowing your personal views (this includes your views about a patient's age, colour, culture, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, lifestyle, marital or parental status, race, religion or beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, or social or economic status) to affect adversely your professional relationship with them or the treatment you provide or arrange.
“You should challenge colleagues if their behaviour does not comply with this guidance.”
The GMC also reminded GPs that they must never “discriminate unfairly against patients or colleagues” and must always be “honest and open and act with integrity”.
The GMC has a website specifically for patients to complain against doctors, available here