Nicola Sturgeon vows to cut ‘trauma-inducing’ NHS Scotland waiting times for trans healthcare

Nicola Sturgeon sits down in Holyrood in a blue pant suit

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that she stands “full square” behind trans people and will work with NHS Scotland to reduce waiting times for gender-affirming healthcare.

Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), came out swinging for trans rights during a First Minister’s Questions session on Thursday (11 June).

Speaking in Holyrood, Scotland’s parliament, Sturgeon said that years-long wait times for gender-affirming healthcare available to trans folk must be improved.

There are just four gender identity clinics in Scotland, and patients can face up to a two-a-half-year wait for an appointment.

“I absolutely stand here full square behind trans people in the discrimination and stigma and prejudice they face, and in the ongoing battle for equality,” Sturgeon told lawmakers, “for which they have as much an entitlement as anyone else in our society.

“There are many things we’ve got to do, not least reducing waiting times for gender identity services. But I think all of us have to also recognise that progress, unfortunately, in our society, is rarely all one way.

“We always have to protect, and continue to win, and re-win, the progress we’ve made.”

Sturgeon was responding to a question posed by Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay, the party’s health spokesperson, where she asked what the government is doing to improve trans healthcare.

She said that her government is working with NHS Scotland to “improve gender identity services including reducing waiting times, which I think everybody recognises are far too long”.

“And that causes additional trauma and anxiety,” she added, “and we will shortly be writing to the national gender identity clinical network for Scotland to ask them to review and update the gender reassignment protocol.”

Nicola Sturgeon: Stonewall is ‘at the very heart’ of Pride

Wishing LGBT+ Scots a happy Pride month, Sturgeon reflected on its historic ties to protest and thanked Stonewall for being “right at the very heart of that”.

The charity, she said, “to this day does very good work for people who rely on its services and its support”.

Sturgeon’s words come after Stonewall sustained what it described as “coordinated attack” across the British media over its support for trans rights.