Action for Trans* Health was recently informed via our membership that Medical Specialists, the online pharmacy, refuses to prescribe endocrine treatment to trans* people, including repeat prescriptions of doses previously established through blood tests.
With the recent furore over Inhouse Pharmacy et al. (see this post for background info, and more here) supplies of hormones for trans* people are precarious at best – especially when NHS waiting lists as that drag on forever and many are priced out of private treatment. Online pharmacies are a literal life-line to many trans* people who need access to transition related healthcare.
As such, we took it upon ourselves to email them expressing concern at their decision to refuse service to trans* patients and inviting them for trans* training:
To whom it may concern,
My name is Jess Bradley and I work for Action for Trans* Health, an organisation which seeks to facilitate greater access to healthcare for transgender and gender variant people. It has come to our attention, via our membership, that Medical Specialists are refusing to write prescriptions for trans* patients to access Spironolactone.
At Action for Trans* Health, we believe that trans* patients deserve fair and equal access to healthcare. As such, we would like to express concern at your decision to refuse services on the basis of a patient’s gender history, and to request that you satisfactorily rectify this situation. We would also like to extend an invitation of receiving training on trans* issues by Action for Trans* Health – please let me know if you are interested in taking us up on this offer.
Action for Trans* Health
18th May 2014
We waited a full month and received no reply. So we decided to pay their offices in Bury a little visit.
We knocked on the door and spoke to a staff member who seemed very uncomfortable to see us – which is good, because way too many gatekeepers make decisions about our lives without having to see us. The staff member said that they had received our email and we’re in the process of formulating a response – apparently this process took a full month.
We handed them over a copy of a letter reiterating our offer of training:
To whom it may concern,
RE: Trans* healthcare
Further to our email dated 18th May 2014 regarding Medical Specialists’ refusal to write prescriptions for trans* patients to access Spironolactone, we note that as we have not yet received a reply to that email it is unlikely that the situation has been satisfactorily rectified.
At Action for Trans* Health, we believe that trans* patients deserve fair and equal access to healthcare. Trans* people are a vulnerable community for whom access to healthcare is lifesaving. The Trans Mental Health Study 2012 found that trans* people have incredibly high rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts (84% and 35%, respectively) which is drastically reduced (to 3%) after adequate transition related healthcare is provided. As such, we would like to express concern at your decision to refuse services on the basis of a patient’s gender history, and to request that you satisfactorily rectify this situation.
We are aware that many doctors feel unable to prescribe endocrine treatments for trans* patients through a lack of awareness regarding trans* healthcare protocols or the safety of prescribing these treatments to trans* patients. In our previous email, we extended an invitation of training on trans* issues by Action for Trans* Health. This offer still stands and we would urge you to take it up.
Action for Trans* Health, 2014
We were just about to leave when some staff members came out to talk to us and told us to take the banner down from their fence. One staff member threatened to call the police and get us arrested for breach of the peace – he seemed a bit flummoxed when we told him that we were fine with the police being called. Another staff member said that prescribing endocrine treatment to trans* people was “dangerous”, but they all quickly went back inside and we couldn’t pursue that conversation further.
Not wanting to seem intimidated by being threatened with police violence, we decided to take one more photo next to their sign in their front garden.
We left, and when we got back home we sent them another email. We are awaiting their response:
A few of our activists popped round earlier today to deliver a letter (please see attached for an electronic copy). The staff member who answered the door told us that Medical Specialists had yet to formulate a response to our earlier email and that we should expect a response in due course.
In a brief conversation with another staff member it was implied that it prescribing endocrine treatment to trans* patients is “dangerous”. We would like respond to that by pointing out that endocrine treatment is a feature of trans* healthcare that is both legal and safe to prescribe, as many doctors across the country do indeed do. Indeed, given the high risks associated with withholding transition related care, we would suggest it is more dangerous to withhold treatment in the majority of cases. As our letter states, we do appreciate that many doctors do not feel comfortable prescribing based on a lack of knowledge regarding the protocols governing trans* healthcare or regarding the treatments themselves. As such, we would like to reiterate the invitation to provide you with trans* healthcare training.
Action for Trans* Health