More than 13,500 trans and non-binary adults are on gender clinic waiting lists: ‘Life is pretty much hell’

trans people at risk of suicide

More than 13,500 trans and non-binary adults are on a waiting list for an NHS gender-identity clinic in England.

The figure comes from new BBC research, which also found that some people are waiting three years for their first appointment at a clinic.

NHS guidelines say it should be no longer than 18 weeks between getting a referral from a GP to being seen by a doctor at one of the specialist clinics – meaning that some trans and non-binary patients are waiting more than eight times longer than is recommended.

Over the past four years, there has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of people being referred to a GIC by their GP. NHS England says it has increased investment to try and copy with the rising demand.

NHS England also pledged to bring waiting times for a first appointment at a gender identity clinic to below 18 weeks, but the national average waiting time is still 18 months, according to national charity the LGBT Foundation.

A former army officer named Andrea Halliley first went to her GP in September 2016 and was referred to the Leeds GIC. Ten months later, in July 2017, she had a telephone assessment, and 15 months after that (one year and 3 months after first going to her GP) she had an appointment with a psychiatric nurse.

She is now waiting to see a consultant, and has been told it could be February 2020 before that happens – three years and five months since first going to her GP.

“Life is pretty much hell – you are living everyday a battle within yourself no matter what’s going on outside,” she said.

“Inside yourself there’s a war raging between who you are presenting yourself and who you really are.

“The longer and longer it’s dragged out you’re made to feel marginalised and you’re made to feel that you’re not important.”

There are just seven gender identity clinics in England, and none in Wales.