Alice Litman was not offered care, mum tells inquest into trans woman’s death
Alice Litman’s mum has told an inquest into the death of her transgender daughter that she could have been saved if she had been offered the correct care.
Litman died by suicide in May 2022, which her family believes was caused by her more than 1,000-day wait for an initial assessment at an NHS gender clinic.
Now, an inquest into the 20-year-old’s death, opened on Monday (18 September) is investigating the delays that Litman face while trying to access gender-affirming care.
Litman’s mum, Dr Caroline Litman, who worked as a psychiatrist for the NHS for 12 years, told the inquest this week that she believes her daughter would still be here today if she had been supported by the healthcare system.
“I believe my daughter could have lived a happy healthy life had she not been failed by the healthcare system that should have supported her,” Dr Litman wrote in a letter, seen by the BBC.
She went on to note that her daughter had first displayed signs of low mood and anxiety back in 2018, before she came out as transgender, and was told by a doctor to play more football.
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“No other treatment was offered,” wrote Dr Litman.
“In my view, [Alice] felt she was not being taken seriously, and doctors did not understand her.”
Litman was referred to the NHS Gender Identity Development Service in 2019 but was kept on a waiting list for a shocking 1,023 days.
The same year, she was referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) after a suicide attempt, her mother told the inquiry.
Despite another attempt that same year, Dr Litman’s daughter’s mental health was not made as much of a priority as it should have been, and discharged her entirely in 2020.
Elsewhere in her letter, Dr Litman recalls memories of a younger Alice who “smiled all the time” and delighted the world, who was described by friends as “soft, warm and kind”, and “bold and brave”.
She told the court that she believes it was the long waits for gender-affirming care – both through the NHS and privately – that caused her untimely death.
As a former NHS employee, Dr Litman expressed the “shame” she feels that she was unable to get her daughter “past the gatekeepers” for gender-affirming and mental health care.
Ahead of the inquest, Litman’s family said they were hoping for the coroner to “recognise failings in trans healthcare as a cause of Alice’s death so we can get justice, and push for changes that will improve the lives of other trans people.
“We all deserve to live in dignity, with access to the healthcare we need. We are asking NHS England to prevent future deaths by urgently addressing the crisis in trans healthcare.”
Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.
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