Statement on potential trans-inclusion in Stonewall

As many people in the trans-o-sphere are aware, today Stonewall met with a group of trans professionals, campaigners and activists to discuss the possibilities of trans-inclusion within Stonewall.

Historically, Stonewall England have been very firm about not wanting to allow trans people a voice within their organisation. They have also actively excluded trans people who are L, G and/or B, and released training material that included uncontested transphobic slurs. Rather than simply ignoring trans people, Stonewall have actively harmed trans people.

This has not been well received by the trans community, especially given that Stonewall take their name from a riot started and fought by trans women of colour, a fight that is often credited as the catalyst for the beginning of the LGBT rights movement as we know it today.

Action for Trans Health are glad that Stonewall seem to want to put that behind them and we hope that, regardless of how relations between the trans community and Stonewall develop, this will be a turning point for Stonewall that indicates an end to their transphobic behaviour of years past.

We are also concerned that it might be that the trans community can do more for Stonewall than they can do for us: with trans people becoming increasingly visible, thanks to the work of out trans journalists, actors and presenters, such as Laverne Cox and Paris Lees, it seems that transphobia is going out of style, and that paying lip service to trans-inclusion might be a way for more conservative organisations to hike their popularity, especially among younger LGB people.

The attendees of today’s meeting are overwhelmingly white, binary-identified, middle-class, and adult. We believe that there can be no real trans-inclusion that does not listen to the voices of those most marginalised within our community, the voices of disabled trans people, trans people of colour, non-binary trans people, working class trans people, and young trans people. We believe that if Stonewall are truly committed to putting transphobia behind them, these will be the people they prioritise meeting with next.

We’d also like to see Stonewall review their diversity awards policy and stop giving diversity champion awards to organisations that actively harm LGBT people, and have policy to continue actively harming LGBT people, such as the Home Office and the DWP.

We hope that today’s discussions were fruitful and that future consultations are successful, and that Stonewall are really as committed to listening to trans voices as they claim to be. If so, they may yet become a useful and powerful ally in the fight for trans liberation.

Statement regarding the intimidation of trans activists

Action for Trans* Health wholeheartedly condemns recent attempts to harass, intimidate, and misgender trans activists.

This includes attempts to distribute personal information (doxxing) and deliberately interfering with their economic security through sabotaging their employment. Action for Trans* Health was founded on the principles of mutual aid and as such we are deeply shocked and disappointed that these attacks have come from both cis and trans* individuals.

We would also like to clarify that Action for Trans* Health does not officially take any position on issues that are not trans healthcare related, unless otherwise stated in our website or constitution

Call out for responses on difficulty accessing Gender Identity Services

Healthwatch England included a request for information on any difficulties people were having accessing gender identify services. If you are willing to share your experiences (anonymously is fine) please get in touch with them and they will use these experiences help inform the national discussion.

The call out is as follows:

“Have you come across problems with Gender Identity Services?

We want to know if you have found out about difficulties for anyone in accessing gender identity services. This will inform our feedback to NHS England.  Healthwatch Telford and Wrekin and Healthwatch Torbay have raised concerns around waiting times and funding for gender reassignment surgery. If you have any evidence you would like us to include, please email us”

The email address to send your comments to Healthwatch is enquiries[@]healthwatchliverpool.co.uk Please put Gender Identity Services responses in the subject line.

If you want Action for Trans* Health to support you in making a complaint about the service, hospital please copy in info[@]actionfortranshealth.org.uk and we will be in touch.

Help us improve your local sexual health service

Sexual health clinics can be a daunting place for anyone. especially when you are trans*.

But regular sexual health screening is important and should be accessible to all. As such Action for Trans* Health are launching a sexual health audit so you can help improve your local sexual health clinic.

How does it work? 

The next time you visit your local sexual health clinic, you fill in a short questionnaire about your experiences. The questionnaire shouldn’t take longer than 20 mins to complete and your information will be kept confidential. The questionnaire can be found here. You might want to familiarise yourself with the questions so you know what to look out for when you go.

Then what? 

Action for Trans* Health will get in touch with the sexual health clinic and, based upon the results of the audit, will offer advice, resources, and tailored training on how to improve if appropriate.

 

Action For Trans* Health at Sparkle and Buff 2014

The Action for Trans* Health team headed down to Manchester for the Sparkle weekend armed with flyers and our banner. Heres what our intrepid adventurers got up to.

First we popped along to Buff, a transguy-orientated event. Here is Action for Trans* Health Trustee and Queer of the Unknown superstar Loz doing some excellent performance poetry.

ATH trustee Loz performs at Buff

 

The next day, we popped down to Canal Street where all the bars were covered in trans* flags. I took this photo at 11am, when everyone was still in bed nursing hangovers. The streets were heaving later on in the day.

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We popped down to Sparkle in Park to hand out flyers and get peoples emails. We came across some lovely people including;

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these fabulous sisters of perpetual indulgence;

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youth workers;

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queer feminist poets;

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and some other lovelies!

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and

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If you are in any of the photos in this post and you want them to be taken down, please contact info[at]actionfortranshealth.org.uk and we will do so.

 

Trans* Health Protest at Medical Specialists, Bury

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.

Kind Regards,

Jess Bradley

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.

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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.

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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.

Kind Regards,

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.

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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.

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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. 

Kind Regards,

Action for Trans* Health

Follow us on twitter and facebook for more updates.

 

Please send us details of your trans-friendly GP

Many people find that their GP can be a massive help, or hindrance to, accessing healthcare. Whether it is having easy access to transition related healthcare, knowing that your GP will be sensitive about examinations, or being able to go for an appointment about a cold and not having to talk about transition if you don’t want to – having a good GP is really important. Because of this, we have put together a list of trans*-friendly GPs. But, we need you to upload details of your trans*-friendly GP to make this happen!

How does it work?

If you have a trans*-friendly GP and you want to put the on the list, please fill in this short form. The form will automatically upload the results onto the list. This is for trans*-friendly GPs only, so please don’t use the form to make complaints about a particular GP – we don’t want to get sued, and we are currently working on a process for dealing with dodgy GPs. We will also add the details of any GPs that have successfully completed any of our training courses on trans* issues.

An important disclaimer

As this list is open for anyone to contribute to, it is obviously open to abuse. In addition to this, peoples perceptions of “trans*-friendly” might be radically different from yours, and a GP’s bedside manner might be variable. The list is always going to be incomplete too, as not everyone will get chance to upload their GPs on here. As such, this list should be seen as a starting place for looking for a trans*-friendly GP but not the be all and end all.

The list 

Here is our list of trans*-friendly GPs. If you have had a bad experience with any of the GPs or practices on this list and you think they should be removed, please email jess[at]actionfortranshealth.org.uk.

NUS LGBT Campaign Unanimously Votes to Affiliate to Action for Trans* Health

Loz, Rohan, and Jess from Action for Trans* Health set sail for the National Union of Students LGBT Campaign Conference in Nottingham last weekend, where they met LGBT student activists from across the country, passed policy, and ran a workshop on trans* healthcare.

The fantastic news is that the NUS LGBT Campaign, which constitutes the largest LGBT-specific campaign in the UK, voted unanimously to affiliate to the Action for Trans* Health Network and to support our work. We also met with activists from Liverpool, Brighton, Cardiff and Belfast who seemed pretty keen on setting up Action for Trans* Health chapters in their local communities. NUS LGBT Committee Trans* Officer Elect, Reubs Walsh, said;

“Action for Trans* Health does vitally important work and is a beautiful demonstration of the power of community. NUS LGBT passed a motion supporting the work of Action for Trans* Health and as one of the Trans* reps for the coming year I cannot wait to implement that policy.”

There was some great policy passed at the conference. Of particular note was the “Democratising Trans Healthcare” motion which demands that all decision making regarding transition-related healthcare be handed over to democratic control by trans* people, and to demand needs-based funding for gender services as current service usage underestimates demand. The motion also called for the NUS LGBT Campaign to organise a series of protests calling for those demands. With trans* healthcare in its current state of crisis, it is heartening to see activists making radical demands to put trans* voices at the heart of trans* healthcare (which shouldn’t be a radical demand, really). We look forward to joining the NUS LGBT Campaign in struggle around this issue.

The conference also passed policy to campaign for the removal of the spousal veto in marriage, to no-platform transphobic speakers, to campaign for campaign for gamete storage to be part of GIC services, and a whole host of other excellent policy. We were disappointed that the motion to create a full-time paid Trans* Officer narrowly missed the two-thirds majority it needed to pass into policy (we hope it will pass next year), and that we didn’t get chance to discuss the creation of a conference dedicated to Trans* issues due to time constraints. However, as the Open Place LGBT Officer Elect, Robbie Young, was elected on a platform of creating a Trans* conference, we hope are hoping he will make good on these promises and we will be reporting back from a dedicated Trans* conference next year.

We also wanted to specifically mention some of the great work that LGBT societies have been doing across the country on trans* issues. We spoke to a lot of student activists who had tirelessly campaigned for gender-neutral toilets on their campuses and for trans* students to be able to change their name on their degree certificates. We were particularly impressed with Nottingham LGBT Society who had done some amazing work engaging with medical students to fight for trans* issues to have place on the curriculum. We’re hoping to interview some activists involved in that campaign in the coming weeks.

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