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, see a transguy-orientated event. Here is Action for Trans* Health Trustee and Queer of the Unknown superstar Loz doing some excellent performance poetry.
The next day, erectile we popped down to Canal Street where all the bars were covered in trans* flags. I took this photo at 11am, buy more about when everyone was still in bed nursing hangovers. The streets were heaving later on in the day.
We popped down to Sparkle in Park to hand out flyers and get peoples emails. We came across some lovely people including;
these fabulous sisters of perpetual indulgence;
queer feminist poets;
and some other lovelies!
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.
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
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.
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.
Loz, viagra Rohan, page 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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