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To: The Minister for Health, Robin Swann
Urgent Support for Trans Communities
We are asking the Minister and Department of Health to recognise the impact this crisis in care is having on trans communities, and put in place alternative care arrangements for trans individuals experiencing issues while awaiting the outcome of the review of gender affirming services.
Whether it be through communication to GPs encouraging the provision of bridging prescriptions for those self-medicating or accessing private care, the funding of a temporary community service in collaboration with private practitioners, or opening referrals for patients in need towards statutory endocrinology services for prescriptions and monitoring, we are asking that action is taken to stem this rapidly developing crisis in trans healthcare.
Why is this important?
Since the start of 2018, no new patients have been seen in the Northern Ireland adult gender identity clinic. There are now over 400 on the waiting list, some of whom have been on this list for over 4 years. While a review of these services was commissioned late last year, progress has been slow, and the Department and HSCB have been unwilling to meaningfully include and consult with trans communities.
As a result, the majority of trans people in Northern Ireland who are currently accessing gender affirming care are doing so through private services, including those in England and further afield, or through self-medication. Those who self-medicate have been doing so to reduce the harm that is being done to them by the failure of statutory services to provide support and care while this review is ongoing and in the two years before it was commissioned.
There is a mental health crisis in trans communities; while trans-led support groups and advocacy organisations are doing our best to support our communities, these groups are chronically under-funded and under-staffed. There is an urgent need for statutory services to step up and provide support to trans communities who have waited years for action.