Twitter Trend Reveals Transgender Discrimination from GPs

8 January 2013
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.
 
 
Kirsty Hough
Comment Here
  • Kate Middleton
  • 9 February 2013
My own experience over the last thirty years is that my GPs have generally been honest, literate and often genuinely concerned for my welfare but lack the information needed to be helpful as they would like to be. My experience of "psychiatrists" has been that they are abusive and unethical bullies and the dregs of the medical profession. It is the policy of the British Government that this is not a mental illness and it is in nobody's interest that this is dealt with by "psychiatrists". One of the GPs who helped me by writing a "medical commentary" on internal records from the Warneford hospital which were found during the Thames Valley Police "investigation" into the first "psychiatrist" to abuse me in 1982 as a "vulnerable, upset" 17 year old A level student, was shocked when I told him about the corruption in this area of medicine. The GMC have turned down my complaints about this "psychiatrist" on the grounds that "sexual assault in the context of a medical examination lessens its gravity". I was a vulnerable minor who this man was supposed to be giving "expert counselling", was entirely sane before this man got his hands on me and attempted to kill myself in my study at Radley College on the evening of 6/11/82 as direct effect of his behaviour which included, but was not limited to, unconsented genital touching and horrific bullying on 25/11/82. This man went on to build his entire career on committing offences against me as a child. He has been arrested by a child abuse officer on 4/9/2008 but claims amnesia over the whole incident. The GMC have ignored the GPs damning reports on his notes which suggest that the doctor was the one not acting entirely normally on the day of the assault. The notes and commentary are available to anyone who affects and interest in probity which the GMC claim is at the heart of good medical practice.
  • Paula Dooley
  • 14 January 2013
But the point is that trans people fear that if they complain to the GMC then treatment might be withheld or delayed. It is clear that the current complaints procedure for trans people does not work - how else does one explain the outpouring on #transdocfail? Indeed, over 200 tweets were made anonymously, probably out of fear that certain doctors might identify patients. Trans patients are afraid of their doctors according to #transdocfail. Something has to change but who will step up to the plate and take responsibility? Perhaps it is time for the GMC to include 'gender identity' in its listing of groups that should not be discriminated against?
  • Another sufferer in silence ...
  • 12 January 2013
I heartily concur with my fellow trans community members. Despite being transitioned for well over 20 years I am still suffering discriminative practice from GP surgeries - so much so I have exhausted all the practices in my catchment area, and have nowhere else to "run" to. I implore GPs, and their staff, to cease behaving so high-handedly towards transgendered people and take careful note of what is being said about the quality of your care towards the community in this article, the Twitter feed, and other media. The community has had no choice but to resort to using more anonymous media to begin to document appalling treatment. It, quite rightly, fears GPs, and their staff, will discriminate, or otherwise adversely affect care, if they have the courage to complain via failing complaints systems - systems that, I can assure you, do little to protect people when things go wrong. If any other protected characteristic group were treated in such a fashion by GPs there would be a national outcry, but as it's transgendered people there is still, largely, silence...
  • maria
  • 12 January 2013
Comment I have to say that my GP has been really good......in fact everybody I have had dealings with on my transgender journey has been good ! Maria
  • jen
  • 9 January 2013
wow so articles can be based solely on rubbish written on twitter now a days..... jeez
  • Dennis Queen
  • 9 January 2013
thank you for covering this matter xxx
  • Paula Symonds
  • 8 January 2013
should be one also regarding police treatment of transgendered persons