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UK doctors back trans self-ID rules and treatment for under-18s

Wed, 16th Sep 2020 17:38

By Rachel Savage

LONDON, Sept 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain's
doctors union has come out in support of proposals to allow
transgender people to legally change gender without a medical
diagnosis, as the government stalls on promised reforms.

The British Medical Association voted for the government to
simplify the rules so that trans and non-binary people - who
identify as neither male nor female - can change legal gender
via a "witnessed, sworn statement".

Under legislation introduced in 2004, trans people have to
get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria - the discomfort people can
feel if their gender identity does not match their body - and
prove they have lived as their acquired gender for two years.

"As doctors we want to make sure all our patients get
treated fairly and with respect," Tom Dolphin, an anaesthetist
and a member of the council of the BMA, which held its annual
meeting this week, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The BMA's motion would bring Britain into line with
countries like Ireland, Norway and Argentina that have adopted
self-identification to make the process of changing one's birth
certificate less medicalised and invasive.

The British government launched a consultation to review the
law in 2018 but it has not taken further action, amid a heated
debate about trans rights, with opponents of "self-ID" saying it
could potentially let predatory men into women-only spaces.

A leaked report published by local media in June said the
government had ditched Gender Recognition Act reform plans and
instead was drawing up ways to stop trans women who had not had
gender reassignment surgery using female-only spaces.

An Equalities Office spokesman said on Monday that officials
were examining the results of the consultation, which closed in
2018, and "will be responding shortly".

DISCRIMINATION

Trans people face high levels discrimination in healthcare,
with 32% experiencing unequal treatment, compared to 13% of all
LGBT+ people, according to a 2018 survey by British LGBT+
advocacy group Stonewall.

The BMA called for trans people to receive healthcare "in
settings appropriate to their gender identity" and for under-18s
to be able to get treatment "in line with existing principles of
consent", which requires they fully understand what is involved.

The government's National Health Service guidelines for
gender dysphoria state teenagers can take cross-sex hormones
from the age of 16 after having puberty-blocking drugs for at
least a year.

The number of under-18s being referred to Britain's only
state-funded gender identity clinic for young people have soared
in the last decade to about 2,700 a year, up from 94 in 2009/10.

A psychiatric nurse who worked at the clinic is fighting a
legal battle against her former employer, the Tavistock and
Portman NHS Foundation Trust, to restrict puberty blockers for
under-18s, arguing the long-term effects are
unknown.

Helen Webberley, a doctor who founded GenderGP, an online
private clinic with 3,000 trans patients, said the BMA's motion
was a positive step, but called for efforts to ensure "this
actually gets translated into care for trans people".

She said waiting times for government gender identity
clinics of several years needed to be addressed.
(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Katy
Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of
people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly.
Visit http://news.trust.org)

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