Quick reports on four news stories from the last week.
The Transphobic Two-Step – the TERFS and the Right-Wing Press
On Monday the Times ran a report (paywall) headlined Youth Hostels Association allow trans guests to use female dormitories. Now, since the Equality Act became law in 2010, an organisation which excludes trans women from women’s facilities or trans men from men’s facilities (because trans men exist too, you know) is breaking the law unless they have a good reason. Regardless of this, the right-wing press and TERF activists have now got a technique for generating transphobic non-stories down pat. You find an organisation that is trans-inclusive – which is easy, because the law means they all are. Then you get a few women to express “outrage” – which is also easy, with TERFs knocking round on Twitter – and that’s your story written. You can do one of these a week till the cows come home, framing each one as “political correctness gone mad”.
Trans People Exist Shock Horror
If the Times’ technique is new, the Mail is sticking with a good old fashioned outing just like the 1980s never ended. Saturday saw the publication of Revealed: THREE soldiers from the same Army base who were born male change their gender after being given full backing from commanders. This had all the classic features – deadnaming, misgendering, before-and-after photos and prurient speculation about surgery. And, of course, no justification at all. Trans people in the army – what next? Black people?
Still No Gender Clinic in Wales
Transphobes frequently talk about a “powerful trans lobby”, but the truth is that many trans people still can’t access the health care they need. Back in January the BBC reported that no gender identity clinic existed in Wales – Welsh people were having to travel to London after two years on a waiting list. Plans for a clinic had existed since August 2017, but Welsh GPs were saying they had no confidence it would meet people’s needs. Nine months later, there is still no clinic. Even after trans people have seen the London clinic, many Welsh GPs are failing to write the prescriptions which the clinic has said they need. Meanwhile, last Friday, the BBC reported that Dr Helen Webberley, who ran an online GP service used by Welsh trans people, has been convicted of breaching the Care Standards Act. This is part of a longstanding pattern where the NHS fails to provide services, while doctors with more accepting attitudes are condemned for breaching “professional standards”. As Ruth Pearce puts it, if people don’t like what Helen Webberley is doing, what action are they taking to make health care available?
The Myth of Young People Being Coerced into Transitioning
Transphobic campaigners claim that young people are being encouraged to transition even though they aren’t really trans at all. From their accounts, you’d think services for young trans people could be accessed at the drop of a hat. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is one clinic in Britain working with young people with gender issues. Before they are referred, young people need to access their local CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), which adds 6 months to the 18 months they can expect to spend waiting for a first appointment at the Gender Identity Service. As highlighted last week by campaigner Growing Up Trans, three young people in the care of the service have died by suicide since 2016: in at least two of these cases failures by the service are implicated. In one case, a young person had been waiting so long that the initial appointment would have happened after their 18th birthday – so they were told they would need to start all over again, get referred to adult services and spend years more on a different waiting list. Official papers state that “A letter was sent to the young person and their family explaining this… Sadly, the young person committed suicide and the Gender Identity Service letter was found in the young person’s bedroom.” Gay Star News reported last Thursday that almost 1 in 7 trans teenagers in the US has attempted suicide. Access to health care for young trans people in Britain needs to be massively improved.