A transgender activist has voiced support for a sex change doctor being investigated by the General Medical Council over allegations of professional misconduct.
Dr Russell Reid, a consultant psychiatrist at Charing Cross gender identity clinic specialising in transgender and gender reassignment issues is accused of prescribing sex-change treatment for some transgender patients too quickly between 1984 and 2003.
It is claimed that he failed to adhere to the guidelines advised by the US-based Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, but Dr Heather Peto, a transgender activist in gay rights group Outrage, insists the doctor acted appropriately.
“As a transgender person, with direct experience of these issues, I support Dr Reid. My opinion is that he acted correctly by not adhering to the orthodoxy where this would not have been beneficial to his patients,” Ms Peto said.
Although not legally binding, these guidelines about how soon to start hormone treatment and how soon to undertake surgery are followed by many specialists in gender dysphoria.
The guidelines state that patients should have been living in their desired gender role for at least three months before being prescribed hormones, or have had at least three months of psychotherapy.
Patients should also undergo a minimum of 12 months hormone therapy and live in their desired gender role for 12 months before referral for gender change surgery.
The allegation is that Dr Reid began treating some transgender patients earlier than the guidelines stipulated.
Ms Peto said it should be up to the patient to decide how long they wait before surgery or treatment, “The issue at stake in this GMC hearing is who decides whether and when
a person has gender reassignment treatment: the doctor or the patient, and where that balance between them should lie.
“Gender dysphoria, like sexual orientation, is not a decision a doctor makes for us; it is an objective fact that affects an individual.”
Dr Reid denies the charge of misconduct. He claims to have given full consideration to the guidelines as part of a thorough assessment of each patient’s needs, but that inflexible guidelines were not in the best interest of some patients.
The GMC disciplinary hearing at Regent’s Place is expected to take five weeks.