Maria Miller, the Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, has slammed the Government for failing to improve health services for transgender people. And there’s a particular Liberal Democrat dimension to this as senior Liberal Democrats actually helped to collect the evidence on this in the first place.
Ms Miller said yesterday that basic healthcare taken for granted by the general public is “out of reach” for trans people.
From The Independent:
The committee is due to publish a new report on the care of LGBT+ people in the coming weeks but Ms Miller has already warned services are “going backwards quickly” – with trans people among the worst affected.
“Many trans people simply don’t have access to the basic healthcare that the rest of us take for granted – things like cervical smears are often things that trans men are not able to access,” Ms Miller told the Press Association.Theresa May did commit to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to remove intrusive red tape for those legally changing gender, and launched a £1m LGBT+ health and social care fund in November.
However, Ms Miller said the focus on legal reforms has “eclipsed” efforts to improve trans people’s experiences.
“As a result there has been a debate focusing in on things that really are not as important as making sure that trans people have access to public services, and the debate has been focused in on issues that are much less important to trans people’s lives,” she said.
And that Liberal Democrat dimension? Well, almost three years ago, Ms Miller’s Committee published a report on transgender equality. A fair bit of the evidence for the health section of that report was gathered thanks to our Sarah Brown and Zoe O’Connell, who asked for it using #transdocfail on Twitter. Zoe wrote about it on her blog in 2013:
Following on from the news that one of the few private doctors dealing with Trans issues has had complaints made against him by fellow doctors, Sarah Brown suggested that Trans people tweet their bad experiences of doctors using the #TransDocFail hashtag. Most of these failures go uninvestigated, because people are afraid of not being believed or having vital treatment witheld as the following demonstrate:
“#transdocfail I tried to complain, at which point I was told the next appointment I had for arranging second opinion would be cancelled.”
@TransDocFailAno: “#transdocfail I am terrified of talking about my experiences because I am afraid of having treatment withdrawn by the GIC.”
The hashtag took off in a big way and the evidence gathered informed the policy we passed at our conference in 2015. The photo above shows Sarah Brown summating that motion.
Ms Miller’s comments show that we are still a long way from ensuring that trans people have access to the healthcare that they need.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings