PRESS RELEASE – 28th April 2020
LGBTQ Mental Health Charity responds to Equality Minister’s announcement on Trans Rights
MindOut,a mental health service run by and for LGBTQ communities, operates one of the few Trans Mental Health Advocacy services in the UK and is concerned about the implications for trans rights in the Women and Equality Minister Liz Truss’ recent statement to the Women and Equalities Select Committee.
We are very concerned that Trans healthcare remains in crisis in the UK: average waiting times for a first appointment at a gender clinic are around three years; there are significant gaps across the country around access to adequate primary care, and we have noted significant and severe mental health impacts, including alarmingly high rates of suicidal distress and self injury.
Ms Truss stated that there will be “checks and balances” in the future as regards access to single-sex facilities. We urge the government to reconsider any reduction in the rights of trans people.
The statement also suggested plans to limit young trans people making “irreversible” decisions about their healthcare. As it stands, no ‘irreversible’ treatment, such as surgery, is available on the NHS to under-18s. To suggest that young people are not capable of making decisions about health care contradicts the ‘Gillick competence’ rights of under 18s to make decisions about medical treatment as long as they have capacity to consent.
Ms Truss’ comments that under 18’s need to be protected from making irreversible choices implies that under 18’s need protection from themselves, or from other outside ‘influences’. This suggests that young people do not have ownership over their identities. We would encourage the government to allow young people agency over their own bodies and their own identities. In our experience, the young and not-so young are equally capable of informed consent to treatment.
We as a mental health service see daily the impact of a failing trans healthcare system on our service users. We desperately need radical reforms towards an informed consent model of healthcare, as well as substantive changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, the recognition of non-binary lives, and protections around the rights of trans youth to dictate their own lives.