On Thursday 25th August, West London Mental Health Trust (WLMHA), the NHS Trust that hosts my full-time employer, Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic, issued a statement on its website. Entitled The future of the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic, it talked of the Trust’s pride at having been at the forefront of developing gender services and the challenge of ever-rising numbers of referrals, concluding:
However, as WLMHT moves forward it is necessary to refocus the services that we provide. The Board has made a decision that the medium-term strategic focus for the Trust will be to develop mental health services, physical care and integration between the two.
As a result, the Trust has come to the conclusion that patients requiring gender identity services would be better served in the long term by another provider, and has therefore served notice on our contract to NHS England.
Acknowledging the alarm this would create in an already stressed, often desperate group of people, WLMHT attempted reassurance: services would not be stopping, a suitable alternative provider would be found as soon as possible, staffing levels would not be reduced and patients would not have to restart their treatment again. Handover to a new provider would be made as seamless as possible, and disruption would be kept to an absolute minimum.
There was, arguably, some degree of ambiguity to the statement in that it suggested the timescale for a new provider would be “at least six months” and that patients from London and the South East would not be left without a service “or have to travel much further”, combining to give the spurious impression of a mysterious unnamed provider already waiting in the wings, ready to spirit the clinic off to a new location within half a year. In specifying London and the South East, it left hanging, by omission, the question of service provision to trans and non-binary people in other parts of England and, particularly, to Wales.
Dr Stuart Lorimer stated on twitter that the Gender Clinic prefers to be hosted by a non Mental Health provider.
Dr James Barrett, Lead Consultant at the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC), on behalf of GIC clinicians, said:
“The gender identity clinic is not closing.
“To clarify, we clinicians have long felt that West London Mental Health Trust is not a good fit for the unique and specific service we provide (the vast majority of those we see are not mentally ill).
“Increasingly, we feel our patients would be better served by us if we worked somewhere better able to support and develop a more tailored approach to gender.
“There are a number of options in terms of alternative providers. We would not make any move unless confident that patient care would be markedly improved.
“Until that point, current arrangements will still apply. Our aim is for any change to be a positive one, and any transition to be as seamless as possible.”
WLMHT made the following assurances:
This does not mean services are stopping now – we will continue to provide services as normal until such time as a new provider is able to take over; this is likely to be at least six months.
Patients from London and the South East will not be left without services or have to travel much further – NHS England as the commissioner for gender identity services will find a suitable alternative provider as quickly as possible.
Patients will not have to start their treatment all over again – continuity of care for our patients is the number one priority for clinic staff. GIC staff will work closely with NHS England and a new provider to ensure disruption to treatment is kept to an absolute minimum.
This does not mean we will let services deteriorate – WLMHT and the GIC will continue to deliver on plans we have developed with NHS England to improve access to and quality of services while it continues as the provider.
We will not reduce staffinglevels – while we remain the provider of this service we have an obligation to ensure there are sufficient qualified staff to maintain and continue improvements in access and quality.
We will ensure a smooth handover to the new provider, working closely with our colleagues at the GIC and NHS England
Today I was sent this advert to review, the new Nike advert. It features athlete Chris Mosier who has been accepted onto the USA national team. He also happens to be trans.
People have touted this as a huge step forward for trans* visibility, for breaking barriers and challenging assumptions on gender. However, all it does is serve to put trans* people in the spotlight while reinforcing the age old narrative that trans people are not “real” men or women.
Because the voice over asks questions such as: “Chris, How’d you know you’d be fast enough to compete against men?….or strong enough? ….”. And yes, they may be valid questions, how did you know you were strong enough *full stop*. But it doesn’t need to be followed by “against men”, because he is a man. You wouldn’t ask that to any other male athlete, assuming that they had grown up wondering if they could compete in their gender category. The fact that these questions are asked to Chris imply that he is not in fact a man and therein lies the problem.
Society has a huge problem with transphobia, not that you would always know it. Often it is hidden in the little snide remarks (you’re taller than I expected!), at the end of sentences (You’re pretty..for a trans girl). This advert reinforces these transphobic ideas by it’s implication that Chris runs fast, for a trans* guy, and thereby its implication that Chris is not a “real” man.
New Federal mandate says bathroom access “a must” for trans employees. New regulations will guarantee trans men and women working for the federal government will be able to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
The guidelines, posted this week in the Federal Register, affect workers and visitors at the approximately 9,200 facilities operated by the General Services Administration, from federal courthouses to Social Security Administration offices (but not national parks).
BuzzFeed News reports:
Transgender people do not need to complete any medical procedure to qualify to use the restroom that aligns with their gender, nor can they be required to show proof of surgery, the bulletin states. They also cannot be restricted to single-occupancy restrooms.
“This includes all kinds of Americans,” Nash-Hahn said. “We wanted to make clear that a person can use facilities that match their gender identity, and we think that’s a good thing.”
The Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed has made a historic appointment to the city’s Atlanta Citizen Review board. Mayor Reed appointed an out trans activist to the board, praising their “lifelong” trans activism.
The appointment is believed to be the first time a trans person has served on the Board openly.
“I am pleased to appoint Tracee McDaniel to serve on the Atlanta Citizen Review Board,” Mayor Reed said in a written statement.
“As a lifelong advocate for the transgender community, Ms. McDaniel will bring an important perspective and a lifetime of experience to this role.”
Reed added that he thought the appointment would be useful amid tensions between police and Atlanta residents.
Trans Sports Clubs: All Roberta Francis wanted was a peaceful place to swim. But, writes Kashmira Gander, what she has created has transformed into so much more.
It’s a Friday night in Lewisham and ten people have gathered for a weekly swimming club at the inner London borough’s modern leisure centre, an oasis of calm beyond which city life grinds on. Reflections from the red light of the emergency exit sign dance on the water of the dimly lit pool where Roberta Francis, the club’s head honcho, plays catch with another swimmer. Others are reclining at the water’s edge, their eyes closed and legs drifting outwards; some still chat quietly and catch their breath between laps. There’s no music, only the gentle murmur of chatter and the slop of water in the pool vents.
So, a bunch of people have gone swimming on a Friday night. Nothing remarkable about that. Look at the lifeguard’s bored face. Except that these people are trans (the term used to describe a person who does not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth) and simply popping out for a quick swim can be fraught with difficulty. Dedicated groups like the Trans and Gender non-conforming Swimming (TAGS) group in Lewisham take months to organise, and are only possible because of years of LGBT activism.