Some GPs refuse to treat trans people ‘because of their Christian beliefs’, specialist warns

A specialist has warned of a number of cases in which doctors cited their religious beliefs as a reason to not treat transgender patients.

Dr James Barrett, the lead consultant psychiatrist at Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic and president of the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists, warned about the issues facing trans people in the British Medical Journal.

The doctor warned: “In the experience of those of us who work at gender identity clinics as many as one in five GPs won’t prescribe for people with gender dysphoria, even after expert advice from an NHS clinic.

“Reasons that GPs have given me for this refusal include concerns about it being dangerous (it isn’t), difficult (it isn’t), expensive (it’s not, particularly), and I’ve also heard disturbingly frank admissions that it was against ‘deeply held Christian beliefs’ or that ‘we are trained to treat illnesses, not to change nature’.

“NHS England’s guidance on specialised commissioning makes it clear that GPs are expected to care for people with gender dysphoria just as for any other group with an uncommon condition easily managed with a joint care model.

“The General Medical Council has made it clear that ethical or ‘principled’ objections are not acceptable in gender dysphoria and that ‘inexperience in the field’ should be remedied by prompt cooperation with a gender identity clinic.”

He added: “NHS care for transgender people can improve in other ways, too. Such patients are still often, offensively, referred to by their old title or legal sex, sometimes years after hormone treatment or gender reassignment surgery.

“They may be admitted to the wrong ward, checked in as the wrong sex, and instructed to use the wrong toilet or a disabled access toilet despite not having a disability.”

The gender specialist continued: “People with gender dysphoria aren’t freaks.

“They are teachers and accountants, police officers and doctors, parents and taxpayers, and—importantly—patients as deserving of respect and decent, routine NHS care as anyone else. It’s about time they started getting exactly that.”

The fresh warning comes two months after MPs found the NHS to be in breach of the law due to poor treatment of transgender people.

Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee found “serious deficiencies” within the NHS on gender issues, where backlogs have led to waits of several years for gender surgery.

The committee found that the current system is in breach of the law, adding it is “in clear breach of the legal obligation under the NHS Constitution to provide treatment within 18 weeks”