According to a UK Parliamentary committee report, Britain still must make considerable progress if it is to offer equal rights to transgender people.
In particular, the report suggested that the NHS is currently failing the trans community with its existing policies.
In fact, the cross-party parliamentary inquiry on the issue was scathing about the health service, suggesting that the health service is failing in its legal duty in providing equal access to services.
Commenting on the situation, the report which assessed the efficacy of transgender equality efforts in the UK, asserted that health service employees lacked the sufficient knowledge and sensitivity in order to serve the transgender community.
“GPs too often lack understanding and in some cases this leads to appropriate care not being provided.”
The report stated that a root-and-branch review of the health service’s treatment of transgender people should be conducted by the summer.
Jess Bradley of Action for Trans Health, a campaign group seeking to improve trans people’s access to healthcare, is of the belief that there is a fundamental lack of understanding, and a lack of cultural inclusion for transgender people in the current NHS system.
“We do see a lot of trans people being denied treatment. You find a lot of trans people are passed from pillar to post. A lot of GPs deny healthcare to trans people illegally, based on the fact that they do not agree with the choices that they [trans patients] have made.”
Similarly, James Barrett, president of the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists, believes that the existing health system discriminates against people of transgender identity.
“The casual, sometimes unthinking transphobia of primary care, accident and emergency services and inpatient surgical admissions continue[s] to be striking.”
Responding to the report, NHS England has indeed acknowledged that the criticism is legitimate, and has written to the committee to outline its determination to improve the existing situation.
Some steps have clearly been made within the NHS to include transgender people, with the health service having established a transgender and non-binary network with over 150 members.
In addition, workshops on transgender issues have been held across the NHS in Britain, with the aim of educating employees about the importance and sensitivity of this issue.
Nonetheless, having received statements from 250 witnesses across five oral sessions, it was evident from the report that there is significant room for improvement.
30 particular recommendations were made by the committee, which impacts upon a diverse range of policy areas.
Maria Miller, the committee chairwoman, said: “Our report challenges attitudes towards trans people, calling for them to be treated equally and fairly. Media coverage of transgender issues has improved a great deal in recent years, but it still tends to focus on transgender celebrities. There is a stark contrast with the day-to-day experiences of many ordinary individual trans people, who still endure routine hostility and discrimination.”
As many as 650,000 people in the UK are “gender incongruent to some degree.”