If you read the Guardian, you may well have come across this article discussing how a Dr Richard Curtis is under investigation by the GMC over allegations of medical misconduct when dealing with people from the transgender community.
A woman who alleges that she was inappropriately prescribed sex-changing hormones and then wrongly underwent a double mastectomy is one of several complaints being investigated by the General Medical Council about the doctor who oversaw her aborted gender reassignment, the Guardian has learned.
The GMC, the doctors‘ professional regulator, has received at least three separate complaints against Dr Richard Curtis, a London GP who specialises in the treatment of gender dysphoria, particularly transsexualism. The complaints concern the alleged inappropriate administering of sex-changing hormones to patients and at least one allegedly unsuitable referral for gender reassignment surgery.
It sounds serious, doesn’t it? But it’s worse!
It is claimed that Curtis, who provides private treatment to patients seeking gender reassignment, failed to follow accepted standards of care and breached conditions placed on his practice by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), the GMC’s arm’s-length disciplinary body.
This is being treated by both the press and the GMC as very serious indeed. There’s just one problem: both the press and the GMC are institutionally transphobic. The GMC’s accepted standards of care are routinely and systematically broken, and even the standards that are apparently established border on cruel and unusual punishment. What Dr Curtis has apparently been charged with is treating his transgender clients as human beings with a right to self-determination, and for this he is pilloried by a transphobic GMC, and pilloried by a transphobic press.
Trolling the Press
I follow a lovely openly transsexual woman on Twitter, a LibDeb councilor called Sarah Brown who goes by the Twitter tag @auntysarah. (she also has a blog here which I heartily recommend, especially this post on gender identity and sexual orientation which is one of the best posts I have seen discussing this issue, particularly in relation to non-binary gender identities). Recognising that the Dr. Curtis story was simply an old re-hash of the GMC’s line that “people might regret transition” (transition basically refers to the process of changing from living your birth gender to your own gender identity, a process crudely referred to as “a sex change”)
I had a misdiagnosis which led to surgery I regret, and which has caused long term problems. Will David Batty [author of the Guardian article] and @bindelj write about this
Here press press press! I, a trans person, had surgery due to misdiagnosis and I regret it. Come and get it, you know you want to
If you’re not aware, the GMC has either recommended or mandated (I’m not entirely sure) a rather cruel and unusual process for undergoing transition via the “official route” in the UK. It requires convincing a GP to refer you to one of a limited number of seriously underfunded Gender Identity Clinics. This normally involves a referral to your local mental health practitioner, whose job appears to be to ensure that “that tranny ain’t insane”. The Gender Identity Clinic (normally known just as a GIC) then gets to basically do what it likes depending on the philosophy of the myriad of psychiatrists and “gender identity specialists” employed at the clinic. If you’re lucky, and you can find an understanding GP, get referred to an understanding mental health unit, and then get referred to one of the apparently remarkably few understanding psychiatrists at the GIC, you might -might – be permitted to transition. It’s a truly barbaric system, but the GMC and the GICs insist that they are only trying to stop people making a life changing surgery due to a person “misdiagnosing” them.
Given that background, and the wording of Sarah’s tweet, what conclusion do you draw? She continued:
<——– TRANSEXUAL PERSON REGRETTING SURGERY! WHERE’S MY NEWSPAPER ARTICLE?
The scarring will never fade. My mutilated appendage will never be fully functional again. It’s all true. Nice and juicy! Come and get it!
I was offered surgery after only two appointments with the specialist.
I have to say, this is the best use of deliberate trolling I have ever seen. She assured us that every single word was completely true. And she got a phone call – from the Cambridge News – who completely lost interest when the surgery in question turned out to be on her right hand. The Cambridge News wasn’t her target – she was mostly trolling the Guardian – but I still think the point was made: when it comes to transsexual/transgendered people, the press are only interested in the salacious – the “I regret my surgery” stories. But inany other context “I regret my surgery and/or treatment” is not even remotely interesting.
The real scandal
As Sarah pointed out later, the real scandal here isn’t that the press and the GMC only see misconduct when it conforms to the salacious scandal of people regretting medical treatments relating to their gender, the real scandal is something much more rotten and nasty, and is evident throughout the provision of care to the transgeder community within the NHS.
This morning, Sarah tweeted:
We need a hash tag for crap trans medical treatment. How about #TransDocFail
And the floodgates opened.
The hash tag was inundated with appalling stories of thoughtlessness and abuse. Of transphobic doctors, nurses and GPs, Experiences of particularly nasty reactions at the GICs, and even by nurses and doctors when people were waiting to undergo SRS. If you want to know what the transgender community is up against, you need to get educated by reading the TransDocFail hash tag thread.
When you read that, remember this: most of those only relate to the people who passed through gates of their GIC, or other “gatekeeper”
Of all the stories I read tagged with #TransDocFail, this one hurt me the most:
Interesting to read the
#TransDocFail hashtag whilst i am on my way to a doctor that has already refused me HRT for being non-binary
This was tweeted by someone I have come to regard as a friend, and I was absolutely gutted for her when she was told “Thou Shalt Not Pass!”. I have no idea what a GIC would make of me: as a child I wanted to be a girl but over time I had to accept that was never going to happen. Having lived for 38 years as male, it’s hard to say “I feel like a woman”, but I’ve never felt like “a man” either. Who, in their right mind, knowing that the GICs have the ability to say “Thou Shalt Not Pass”, would even begin the process? I haven’t, because the fear of rejection – the fear of a life-long dream being stripped from you – is too big. That, in itself, is a #TransDocFail.
Please take your time to read through the posts while they’re still current. If you care about transgender rights, educate yourself. Get angry.