In January 2016, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee issued a report on Transgender Equality. The report contains a wide-ranging set of recommendations and discussion points related to (among other things) NHS services, regulation of doctors, treatment protocols, data protection, social care for young people, and hate crime legislation.
One of the most important discussions is around NHS services for trans people. In the words of the Committee: “We have found that the NHS is letting down trans people, with too much evidence of an approach that can be said to be discriminatory and in breach of the Equality Act.”
The report also said that trans people experience worse health (both physical and mental) than the general population, which is likely to be substantially due to the direct and indirect effects of the inequality which trans people experience.
During its inquiries, the Committee heard evidence that trans people face discrimination in accessing general NHS services, and that they were often nervous about accessing services because they were “not treated sympathetically, or even politely.” Dr John Dean is Chair of the NHS National Clinical Reference Group for Gender Identity Services; he said “not treating people is not a neutral act—it will do harm.”
Dr Dean also told the Committee that awareness of gender identity and gender identity development—distinguishing it from sexual identity, and noting the interactions between the two—should be a fundamental part of medical training, and the General Medical Council could have significant influence in making that happen.
One of the report’s conclusions is “the NHS as an employer and commissioner is failing to ensure zero tolerance of transphobic behaviour amongst staff and contractors. A root-and branch review of this matter must be conducted, completed and published within the next six months.”