Campaign for review of gender dysphoria policy in Oxfordshire

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Four trans women are campaigning for Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust to review its policy, funding and practice for the treatment of Gender Identity Dysphoria.

According to the group, the PCT is “lagging behind” other counties in its understanding and treatment of the illness and since 2006, only one patient has been granted genital reassignment surgery after taking court action.

A report from one of the women, Sally Outen, titled The Failure of Gender Dysphoria Treatment in Oxfordshire, describes the PCT’s policy as “unenlightened, irrational, unethical and unlawful”, citing misunderstanding of the condition and inadequate assessment as two of the main issues.

The report also criticises the policy as discriminatory compared with other trusts in the south-central region.

Outen argues that high rates of suicide among trans people means that the one-off cost of surgery is “enormously cheaper” than alternative treatment for depression and referred to positive surgery success rates.

They added that the PCT has imposed a “blanket ban” on surgery through a requirement that patients should reach a certain level of depression or suicidal feelings in order to have their gender reassignment surgery, but that official guidelines state that people should not be allowed the surgery if they are mentally unstable.

Rachel Payne, one of the four, said she knew of people who had moved counties in order to begin their treatement.

She added: “We met the chief executive Andrea Young on Thursday. They’ve apologised for the delay and admitted some failures. We disagreed on some points.

“However, they have categorically promised a review by July. We’re hoping for a review by April and the commencement of outstanding treatments. The PCT are promising we will be involved in the review.”

Dr Ian MacKenzie, a medical advisor for the Healthcare Priorities Unit at Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust said: “I can confirm that the group met with the PCT chief executive last week to discuss their concerns. The PCT felt that this was a very helpful and productive meeting. The PCT was already planning to review the policy this summer and will bring this forward.

“However it is not possible to present this immediately as, in order to ensure equity with other clinical treatments, the PCT must follow its processes and ensure a comprehensive review of the evidence is obtained and stakeholder/clinician comments are sought. The PCT will then consider policy in the light of new clinical evidence and current national practice.”

The group has set up an online petition which currently has over 900 signatures. The report can be found here.