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Trans groups to campaign over ‘draconian’ gender clinic rules

Jessica Geen May 5, 2009

Trans Yorkshire and Press for Change (PFC) are to lobby MPs at Westminster later this month in a bid to improve gender identity services in Leeds.

The groups claim that Leeds Gender Identity Clinic insists on “complete compliance” during treatment, rather than promoting an atmosphere of health and wellbeing.

They have cited examples of patients being told to wear certain clothes, having to seek permission for beauty treatments and being forced to obtain “proof” from employers of living in their desired gender.

According to PFC and Trans Yorkshire, compulsory requirements such as these may jeopardise patients’ employment and in the case of clothing, disregards patients’ rights to dignity and privacy and may place them in danger of physical attack.

Campaigners believe such requirements are in breach of human rights laws.

It is also claimed that Leeds Gender Identity Clinic has failed to consult stakeholders such as trans people outside the institution, does not consider the needs of disabled people who use the clinic and does not contribute or share new medical treatments or practice with its professional staff.

A joint statement from the two groups says: “In considering the breaches in law, PFC and Trans Yorkshire are not seeking litigation.

“Rather, we are seeking MP support to lend influence and assistance in a long-standing case which abuses patients and disabuses them of their human rights.”

The groups are planning to meet MPs in Westminster on May 19th.

Press for Change vice-president Ben Thom told “If your gender identity conflicts with your physical sex characteristics to such an extent you cannot function in any aspect of your life or develop and express yourself as a human being you too may seek the help of a gender identity clinic.

“Certainly, this is what some trans people do usually after years of personal turmoil where any gender ambiguity has been either ridiculed in a public spaces or suppressed causing depression and often self harm.

“That trans people then meet systems of care that further challenge and disregard our basic right to self determination should be consigned where it belongs – in the dark ages.

“However whilst the majority of gender identity clinics are taking great strides to engage with the trans community directly, be progressive and reform their practice in ways that respects the human rights, patient autonomy and health needs of a diverse trans community in modern 21st century Britain, Leeds as a minority are still insisting on draconian operational policies where the trans patient is ‘managed’ into compliance or discharged abruptly from care.”

A spokeswoman from Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust said: “Leeds Gender Identity Service provides a quality service which is both flexible and client-centred with client safety at the forefront of any clinical interventions.

“Our operational system is reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in the client group, adhering to Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust’s ‘Single Equality Scheme’.

“Every client has a dedicated care co-ordinator to ensure a safe and appropriate care plan is agreed as they move through their transitional journey. The care plan begins with an assessment period, during which the care pathway is fully explained and client expectations of their treatment are explored.

“The service is also part of a wider governance group of seven NHS gender services which meets regularly to look at and consider best practice and consider new ways of working.”

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