Ex-Mermaids CEO and GenderGP launch vital trans youth healthcare fund
A new fund will help young trans people and their families across the world with the costs of gender-affirming healthcare.
GenderGP, an online private clinic that offers gender-affirming care to trans people worldwide, is launching its GenderGP Fund with trans advocate Susie Green, the former CEO of Mermaids.
The fund is the first project Green will be leading on, and it will help any trans young person – regardless of their age or location – access services through GenderGP.
All money raised will help trans youth and their families cover medication costs, subscription costs, blood tests and psychological and emotional support through GenderGP’s services.
It comes as the state of trans healthcare continues to deteriorate.
In the UK, waitlists for NHS gender clinics span years. Trans youth face an particularly uncertain future – NHS England’s sole dedicated youth gender clinic, the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), is due to close in the spring, but a recent Vice report says that replacement services are nowhere near ready.
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In the US, several states have passed laws banning gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth.
It’s this distressing lack of care, and the hateful rhetoric targeted at the community, that pushed GenderGP and Green to act.
“It’s not a neutral option to withhold treatment, and we know it basically costs kids’ lives,” Green tells PinkNews. “As a parent who went through that, watching my kids suffer, I think it’s appalling that children are being used as a political target.”
She references an open letter to NHS England from GIDS staff which spoke about the “avoidable deaths” of young people who are “no longer with us” because they couldn’t access gender-affirming healthcare.
The launch of the fund will no doubt attract attention – in 2022, the founder of GenderGP, Dr Helen Webberley, was the subject of a medical tribunal after being accused of accused of failing to provide good clinical care to three trans patients – aged 11, 12 and 17.
While the tribunal found she was “competent to provide treatment”, it also found she failed to provide some follow-up care. She was deemed to have committed serious misconduct and suspended for two months. Eighty-three allegations against her were not proved, while another 36 were proved – right-wing media leapt on the story.
Susie Green says trans kids are ‘happier’ when ‘supported and respected’
Susie Green has personally seen how gender-affirming care helps young people. She served as CEO of Mermaids for six years, during which time attacks on the charity, which works to support young trans people and their families, ramped up.
“I’ve got 20 odd years of working in this sphere, and I see how much happier kids are if they are treated appropriately, with kindness, with affirmation, believed, supported and respected rather than being made to feel that there’s something wrong with them,” she says.
Green says it’s “frustrating” to see the “barriers that are put in place” and the “gatekeeping” around accessing gender-affirming healthcare through public health providers. Some families told her that they were asked “intrusive questions” or had to dress their child a certain way so clinicians believed that their child was trans.
Green says that hostility towards trans people, particularly trans kids and trans women, is “ramping up”, and it’s having a devastating impact on young people.
“There’s a real feeling of persecution, which I think is totally and utterly warranted,” she says. “It’s not nice out there, and trans kids are suffering.”
Studies overwhelmingly show that trans people who have access to gender-affirming treatment are significantly less likely to experience depression and anxiety and consider suicide than those who are barred from such treatments.
Further research found trans youth who had access to hormone therapy reported an increase in positive emotions, life satisfaction and self-confidence.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recommends that healthcare professionals work with trans youth to “facilitate the exploration and expression of gender openly and respectfully so that no one particular identity is favoured”.
“If you can’t afford it, you’re stuck with watching your child go through what is essentially torture”
Green says that GenderGP “has a number of families who are accessing their services because they don’t want to sit and see their kids sit on a waiting list of see them suffer”.
“They’ve reached out and done it, but we also know that there are some people who financially can’t afford it,” she explains.
“We’re in a cost of living crisis. People are having to choose between heating and eating.
“We’re putting an FAQ page up on our website which says the cost per year to support a young person on average – either transmasculine or transfeminine – including blockers, psychological support, mandatory sessions with counsellors, prescription costs, blood tests and medication works out at around £2,250 per person. And that applies to adults too.
“Some people spend more than that on their pet insurance. But some people can’t afford it, and those are the people want to support.
“Because if you can afford it, you’re probably already accessing it and paying for it. But if you can’t, you’re stuck with watching your child go through what is essentially torture, basically prohibiting their lives.
“They’re sat in their rooms, they’re not talking to people, they’re not sociallisting and they’re not getting involved with their peers.
“If we can make that change, to make that kid feel better and to be able to live their life, then we want to do that.”
Those interested in more information about the crowdfunding campaign can find it on GenderGP’s website.
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