Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Transgender e-Bulletin from Lynn Featherstone

Lynn Featherstone, a LibDem MP is the current Minister for Equalities in the coalition government, While an oppositoin MP Lynn had always been a great champion of Trans Rights, regularly promoting bills and amendments on behalf of the Trans Community, so iit is not surprising that we are now seeing a very positive approach to trans rights.

The first Transgender eBulletin was published this month including a link to a Transgender Survey which I do strongly encourage you to complete if you are trans or if you work with trans people. As far as I am aware this is the first government run survey, although Press for Change conducted a huge survey as part of the 2007 Discrimination Law Review and the Scottish Transgender Alliance have undertaken some recent research in regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty.

This latest survey is very comprehensive and is a real opportunity to feedback to government the state of play in supporting trans people, especially in regard to medical treatment which frankly leaves a lot to be desired.

I am helping Claire Eastwood from Trans Yorkshire who is actively campaigning to make sure that the new Health Bill specifically includes provision to allow trans people to have choice when it comes to surgery. At present Leeds GIC is offering only access to Tim Terry as a surgeon, and any choice is then subject to an exceptional treatment appeal to the PCT.

Charing Cross appears not to accept patients from outside their "catchment", so the only way to access Phil Thomas and James Bellringer is to go privately. This is where the system get stupid. The cost of using Phil Thomas privately is cheaper than going through the NHS, yet PCTs are refusing because it is private treatment, even though the surgeons are the primary NHS surgeons in the south.

We have a meeting with my MP, Diana Johnson in May to try to get her support for an amendment to the Health Bill to make choice a statutory requirement. In the meantime the Government Equalities Office survey is another very useful means of influencing government and given Lynn Featherstone's history of support for trans issues, I am hopeful that she will respond poisitively to the results of this survey.