Julie Burchill being nasty again about trans people in The Guardian (in an article since replaced by an apology of the editor) is bad enough, as it might provide cover for bullying but much more worrying is the general disrespect and disdain many trans people receive from their own doctors, as documented in stories shared through Twitter and elsewhere.
Two weeks ago, one of the few doctors providing gender re-assignment outside the NHS, doctor Richard Curtis came under investigation by the General Medical Council, for alleged errors made during gender reassignment, including one alleged wrongful referral for surgery.
For many trans people this investigation looked like yet another attack on the already scarce resources for gender reassignment in the UK, once again focusing on the alleged harm that might have been done to people erroneously under going gender realignment therapies, rather than the everyday difficulties many trans people have with getting the right medical support.
This anger led to the establishment of the TransDocFail hashtag on twitter, started by trans activists Zoe O’Connell and Lib Dem councillor Sarah Brown, asking UK trans patients to relate their experiences with gender reassignment and health care in general. It led to a flood of tweets by trans people, often anonymously describing the problems and bigotry they encounter at their GP or hospital.
The heart of the problem still seems to be the idea that trans people need to be protected from making a potential mistake more than they need to be helped become what they really are, as well as a continuing transphobia amongst some health care workers, not often addressed in the news media. As Sarah Brown is quoted:
“The media are typically invested in presenting a rigid narrative about how trans people interact with medicine. The stories trans people would like to tell, stories of outrageous levels of systemic abuse and transphobia, don’t fit this narrative and so go ignored and unreported. Social media is changing this. The stories trans people have to tell are reaching people who seldom hear them, and people are often appalled by what they hear. We can’t even begin to tackle widespread medical abuse of trans people until there is wider awareness of just how bad it is.”
A related problem is the fact that so often, the only trans stories covered in the media are negative ones, which is something the We Happy Trans project attempts to do something about.
(Originally posted on MetaFilter.)