Sunday, 25 May 2014

Mother of Trans Child takes on Paul Dacre and the Mail on Sunday

Following on from the Mail on Sunday's demonisation last week of the medical team that treats transgender children at the Tavistock and Portman Institude (see my blog about this here), a mother of a transgender child was so incensed by the article that she wrote a rejoinder which was published this week in the Sunday Observer which you can read here.

The article was published under the title "Transgender children know their identity. Bigots in the media don't" and told the story of her daughter's struggle to be who she really is - and the consequences of what happens when people seek to deny them this right.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA Test) for Transgender Women

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of the main blood vessel in the abdomen and if left untreated it can be fatal. Men aged 65+ are most at risk. A simple scan can tell you if you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The Exeter and South Devon AAA Screening Programme sends screening invitations to men during the year they turn 65. Any men over 65 who have not already been screened can arrange an appointment by calling 01803 655441.
In addition if your gender is different now from that recorded at birth, you may still need to be screened.  Please contact 01803 655441 to self-refer. If you are a M2F transgender person living in the South Devon area and would like some further information about this, then read on.

I was fortunate to meet and talk at length to two members of the AAA screening team at the NHS Annual Equality Engagement Event symposium held in Torquay where they had a display stand.

They were very keen to reassure me of the total respect that they have for trans women and the problems that we might have in approaching them to book a screening. They reassured me that they will do their utmost best to help any trans person who approaches them to have their screening done without causing any embarrassment or fear of outing them.
To this end they have supplied me with a personal email address of the the leader of the team so that anybody who wishes to have a screening done can have a conversation with her about your privacy. All the team are well versed in Equality and Diversity issues and you will be treated with absolute respect.

Please use the contact form on the Transfigurations website  to contact me for her email address.

Breaking News:
Lynda has emailed me with a very important announcement to say that they are hoping (in the very near future) to take their screening services to the Laurels Clinic in Exeter (our Gender Identity Clinic here in the South West) so that screenings can be carried out at that location where anybody who is reluctant to be screened at one of their other locations, can be screened where they might feel more safe and at ease. I will update this page when it has been confirmed and let you have the dates when they will be at the Laurels.

If you live outside the South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust's borders, then please contact the AAA screening unit for your area in order to have your screening carried out.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Why are Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail/Sunday Mail so Transphobic?

It is a question which really needs asking for the number of transgender people in the UK is actually quite small and the cost of effective treatments are miniscule if you consider the costs of non-intervention (depression and the cost of treatments for that, hospital costs for suicide attempts, ruined lives).  The Daily Mail and it's writers often sensationalise the cost of treatments yet always ignore the the much higher costs of failure to treat. Instead of educating their readers, they prefer to pander to their irrational phobias and dislikes which can have disastrous consequences as was witnessed when Richard Littlejohn decided to turn his own personal phobias onto Lucy Meadows.

Only a week after 6 major British newspapers were castigated for their "reporting" of another story about a transgender woman and their subsequent retractions of their "stories", the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday rolls out another epic piece of mis-information (which they actually published about a year ago - but, like a dog with a bone, they simply cannot leave alone and return to the same meme time and time again).

I did leave a comment in their comments section below the story that they ran which put the alternative viewpoint (very short due to the limited number of characters that you are allowed) but not surprisingly, they failed to publish this comment, prefering to publish the comments of their xenophobic/transphobic readers.

After a slight truce after their tragic hounding of Lucy Meadows and the subsequent castigation by the coroner who oversaw her inquest of the British press (and the Daily Mail in particular), the Daily Mail again shows its true colours as a paper consumed with transphobia.

Under an article whose headline screamed "NHS to give sex-change drugs to 9 year olds", the article proceeds to denounce the Tavistock and Portman Institute with a web of innuendos and lies.

Just the headline itself is pejorative with its use of the word "drugs"  and the complete phrase is wrong as puberty blockers on their own will never change a person's secondary sexual characteristics - even if they were to be taken all of their lives.  All they will do is prevent that person from entering puberty.  The compounds are not hormones, they are peptide molecules which bind to the normal hormone receptor sites in the pituitary gland and so block the hormones from binding there - this suppresses the release of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary. In males, this reduction in LH subsequently leads to rapid suppression of testosterone release from the testes; in females it leads to suppression of oestrogen release from the ovaries).  These compound have been used since the early 1980's to suppress the puberty of young girls after they showed signs of entering puberty at a very young age.  Has the Mail ever campaigned against these GnRH agonists when used in these 7 to 9 year old children?  No they have not, presumeably because they are in favour of them being used in this way.

They go on to assert that these compounds can lead to permanent bone damage, but recent research by Dutch paediatricians has shown that after the introduction of cross-sex hormone therapy (or cessation of treatment with GnRH agonists), bone mass quickly reverts to normal values.  So this part of the story is a complete distortion of the truth.

The truth is that early intervention saves lives - as one mother of a transgender child said "I would rather have a living transgender daughter than a dead son" and when you consider the effect of not giving these children these blockers (depression, self harm, suicide attempts, reduced academic attainments, poor self esteem etc) plus you are subjecting them to painful (and expensive) treatments later in life such as electrolysis/laser treatments to remove facial hair, facial feminsation surgery to reduce the effects of masculinisation of the bone structure of the face (never completely reversible) and possibly breast augmentation surgery, or mastectomies for f2m trans men, when they do ultimately transition - then the medical profession is abiding by their committment to "do no harm" - especially in light of the fact that the effects of the GnRH agonist blockers are completely reversible if the person subsequently decides that they do not wish to proceed with their transition.  All they are doing in effect is buying the young person time - time to really find out who they are so that if they do subsequently decide to continue with their transition, they will not have to try to undo the effects of a wrong puberty.  Trans children would not be given the option of cross-sex hormone therapy until they are 16 or older - and old enough to fully comprehend what taking cross-sex hormone therapy involves.  Conversely, if they do decide to not go ahead with their transition, the GnRH agonist (puberty blocking) treatment can be stopped and the person allowed to go through the puberty of their natal sex - without any damage being done.

In a Radio 5 Live program aired on the Sunday evening, Dr. Polly Carmichael (clinical lead at the Tavistock and Portman Institute) was quite clear on the benefits which these GnRH agonists can have on young transgender children and re-iterated that children normally have to enter into a certain stage of puberty before they are given (Tanner stage 2 or later).  She went on to explain that prior to puberty, many children who show signs of being transgender change their minds on entering puberty, very few who express themselves as being transgender when they reach puberty actually revert back to their natal sex - 80% transition.  To withhold treatment at this age would be to consign that child to an unwanted puberty and put their health at risk (and risk them self harming or attempting suicide).  Perhaps the following video might also help:-

By publishing scare stories such as this, the Mail newspaper empire is guilty of mis-information that could lead to young people self harming or tragically taking their own lives.

I have today submitted a complaint to Press Complaints Commission about this article on grounds of accuracy and discrimination.  Hopefully others will do likewise to tell the Mail newspaper empire that trans people will not stand idly by and let inaccurate and discriminatory reporting like this be published without challenge.

The mother of a transgender child has written a brilliant rejoinder to this article which has been published in the Observer newspaper today.  I have also included a short post about it in this blog here.

Transfigurations Brochure

Our new brochure for the Transfigurations group has just been created which you can download from the website, here's a sneak preview of the 3 fold double sided brochure:-
Click on image to download the brochure

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

We're All Human

The L Project has just released another fantastic song about LGBT people which they are urging everybody to share and, if means allow, to download and purchase from Amazon.  All proceeds will go to supporting LGBT charities (including Mermaids UK, which is a charity close to my heart).  I have shared the video below for you:-

Stand beside the one you love
Stand up for who you are and what you believe
I wish they knew the love I always feel ...... the feeling of you next to me
And if you hear those words of hate, just know
Love knows no colour or gender, love will be itself
Harvey once said
"Burst down those closet doors
Once and for all,
Stand up and start to fight"

We've stood strong together for the longest time
And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
'Cause love can only be right

We all fight, side by side in life
At home and overseas for what we believe
So many sleep alone under the stars
Without their stories ever being told
The day will come  When no labels are required
We'll justify our love - and how we're born to live
And One by One We'll challenge every law
And find a way to all be truly free

We've stood strong together for the longest time
And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
'Cause love can only be right

And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
And love can only be right

And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
'Cause love can only be right

''We're All Human' ©
Music written by Georgey Payne
Lyrics written by Georgey Payne and Sofia Antonia Milone

Vocal Arrangement by Georgey Payne
Musical Arrangement by The L Project Musicians and Georgey Payne