Trans people

Trans people don’t just need to access health services for gender reassignment treatments.

Like everyone, trans people get colds, have accidents or may suffer from chronic conditions. They may have disabilities. They may also have caring responsibilities for parents, children and partners. And, like everyone else, trans people age and may require support or residential care when they age.

Recent evidence from both the UK and wider studies in Europe indicates that trans people often encounter significant discrimination:

  • at the point where health and social services are delivered; and
  • in the planning and provision for services specific to gender identity issues

This is also highlighted by a literature review published by the Commission.

If you are a trans person and you feel that the services or care you’ve received have been impacted by the fact of your trans status your rights are summarised below:

  • The NHS Constitution sets out the rights which everyone in Britain can expect regarding their healthcare. These rights will be given statutory force by the Health Bill, which is expected to become law by the end of 2009. Trans people are as entitled to these rights as everyone else.
  • Health and social care providers are expected to do several things in order to comply with equality law and fulfil their public sector equality duties.
  • The Court of Appeal ruled in 2009 that:
    • Gender Dysphoria is a medical condition. As such it should therefore be treated on the NHS
    • Gender reassignment treatment is (on expert evidence) the appropriate course of treatment
    • It is unlawful for NHS commissioners to operate any policy that amounts, in practice, to a blanket ban on such treatment
  • General Practitioners do not have a right to refuse to treat trans people for reasons of conscience. The only conscience exception for GPs is a provision under the Abortion Act, which permits them to decline to assist a patient to access services for termination of a pregnancy. However, even in this case, the GP is obliged to help the patient find another doctor prepared to help. You have a right to complain to your PCT or to the General Medical Council if your GP refuses to help refer you to a gender specialist, or if they refuse to cooperate with gender specialists in a shared care agreement.

The Department of Health has published a comprehensive range of booklets for trans people, their families and GPs to explain about Gender Dysphoria and to make clear the standards which are expected.

The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) also publishes a useful range of literature.

Last Updated: 04 Nov 2009