Thousands of trans people have just lost access to vital healthcare and medication after spate of articles about private provider GenderGP.
GenderGP is a private “online health and wellbeing service, which provides advice and support to members of the trans community, and those who care for them”.
A spate of anti-trans media coverage has targeted the service, including a piece by the The Times, which reported that parents of trans kids were able to use GenderGP to “avoid some checks and safeguards that protect children who are referred for NHS treatment”, and an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama in 2019.
Another “investigation” was conducted by a journalist at The Sunday Mirror, who carried out an “undercover operation” in which, according to GenderGP, she “posed as the parent of a 12-year-old child, in a bid to get access to puberty blockers”. The story was never published.
In a statement on Wednesday (7 October), the healthcare provider announced: “As a result of the recent negative press attention our prescribing chemist has been told they are unable to fulfil the prescriptions of the thousands of trans patients who use GenderGP.”
GenderGP’s prescribing chemist, until now, has been Clear Chemist.
“These changes have been enforced by the pharmacy regulator [the General Pharmaceutical Council],” it continued.
“We are acutely aware of the distress this is causing our patients. We are currently negotiating with alternative partner pharmacies to ensure our patients healthcare is not affected.
“All our patients have been sent an email listing alternative options currently available to them.”
These changes have been enforced by the Pharmacy Regulator https://t.co/UhPmcMGsqO. We are acutely aware of the distress this is causing our patients. We are currently negotiating with alternative partner pharmacies to ensure our patients healthcare is not affected.
— GenderGP (@GenderGP) October 7, 2020
Thousands of trans people have now been left without vital medication, and GenderGP added: “This situation serves to highlight the unacceptable gaps in trans healthcare in the UK. We remain as committed as ever to supporting the trans community.
“We believe it is discriminatory that trans people trying to access healthcare are being treated as second class citizens.”
Many trans people have been forced to turn to private providers like GenderGP, as waiting lists have become “torturously long”.
Anger has been growing in recent weeks as it’s been reported that trans and non-binary patients in the south west of England are facing waits of 193 weeks to see a gender specialist — more than 10 times the NHS target of 18 weeks.
According to its website, the waiting time between assessment and treatment under the care of GenderGP is “up to three weeks”.
Its team “includes doctors, psychologists and therapists” as well as a “clinically skilled Pathway Team”, who use “telemedicine and video-conferencing to consult with patients”.
GenderGP told Independent Community Pharmacist that it prescribes gender-affirming medication for trans people of all ages, despite the media’s focus on trans children, and added: “This can be in the form of GnRH agonists to prevent the development or progression of secondary sex characteristics, estradiol to feminise a trans-feminine person or testosterone to masculinise a trans-masculine person.
“All treatments are prescribed in accordance with The Endocrine Society Guidelines for the Treatment of the Gender Incongruent Person.”
Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said: “Our role is to protect patients by setting standards that pharmacies and pharmacy professionals have to meet. These standards help make sure people receive safe and effective pharmacy care and we take action if those standards are not met. We also provide guidance to pharmacy owners and pharmacy professionals to help them meet the standards.
“We are looking into concerns raised about Clear Chemist as a matter of urgency and will take any actions necessary to safeguard patients and the public.”