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‘We just don’t want to die waiting’ Powerful mural highlights shocking reality of trans healthcare in the UK

Vic Parsons October 27, 2020
Mural highlights shocking reality of trans healthcare in the UK

Trans activists painting the mural in Stokes Croft, Bristol. (Supplied)

Transgender activists in Bristol have painted a huge mural highlighting the shocking, bleak reality of trans healthcare in the UK.

Waiting times for a first appointment at a specialist NHS gender clinic in the south west of the UK are on average four years, and in some cases as long as five years, say the trans activists who painted the mural, with hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries an additional three to five years of waiting.

This is against the NHS target of 18 weeks for a first appointment.

“We don’t want special treatment,” the mural says. “We just don’t want to die waiting.”

CJ, one of those behind the latest piece of artwork on the large wall by the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, told Bristol 24/7: “This mural is an attempt to shine a light on the shocking state of healthcare for transgender and non-binary people.

“It’s one of the most pressing issues affecting us across the country and particularly in the south west. It paints a pretty bleak picture but unfortunately that’s our current reality.”

The mural in Stokes Croft, Bristol. (Supplied)

The mural, which is painted in the blue, white and pink colours of the trans Pride flag and includes statistics about trans healthcare and suicide rates, will remain on the wall for the duration of October.

“Everyone who helped to paint the mural has so much love for the NHS as an institution but feel that as a community we have been roundly disregarded for many years as the waiting lists have spiralled to the current appalling state,” CJ continued.

“People knew it had got out of control but to see that figure is just so disheartening. These failures of the system are causing very real harm to a vulnerable population.”

The idea for the mural formed as the trans and non-binary community in Bristol waited for the results of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) consultation to be published in September, according to the Bristol Cable.

After three years of hostile public debate about the potential reforms to the GRA, which could have made the process of legal gender recognition for transgender people simpler, Tory equalities chief Liz Truss ignored the results of a public consultation – which showed overwhelming support for the reforms – and instead scrapped the plans.

Soon after, a high-profile court case trying to restrict trans kids’ access to healthcare began in London. The intense public scrutiny felt by the trans and non-binary community in Bristol has led to more and more people speaking out.

A section of the mural. (Supplied)

The mural painters all told the Bristol Cable of the same two major concerns – access to trans healthcare, and hostile public debate about trans lives.

“The vigorous torrent of abuse and creative untruths generated by the same dozen people in the media is bad enough,” said Julia.

“However, we also have the utter failure of the NHS to cope with increased referrals. Even with the actively hostile press and broadcasters doing all they can, there will always be more trans people.”

More: bristol cable, gender clinic, gender identity clinic, gender recognition act, GRA Reform, people's republic of stokes croft, trans healthcare

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