Transgender woman’s death was preventable, mother says

The mother of a transgender woman who took her own life has said her death was “preventable with access to the right support”.

Alice Litman, 20, had been waiting to receive gender affirming healthcare for 1,023 days when she died on May 26 2022 in Brighton, the family said, ahead of an inquest into her death.

Ms Litman was referred to the Gender Identity Development Service in 2019 and later the Gender Identity Clinic, because she was going to turn 18 while on the waiting list, the inquest held at Sussex County Cricket Ground in Hove heard.

Alice Litman
Alice Litman took her own life (Family handout/PA)

In a statement read out in court on Monday, her mother Dr Caroline Litman said: “I do not want any other transgender person to face a future with as much despair as Alice did.

“I do not want another parent to live the rest of their life with their child in a jar on the mantlepiece, instead of in their warm embrace.

“I believe Alice’s death was preventable with access to the right support, and that change must happen.”

The court heard Ms Litman first told her sister she felt she was a woman in September 2018.

She went to see a doctor about her gender identity later in 2018.

Dr Litman told the court her daughter had tried to end her life twice previously, and that her daughter had felt as though she was in the wrong body.

Alice Litman
Alice struggled to gain access to support, her family said (Family handout/PA)

Ms Litman, who was originally from Surrey but lived in Brighton, was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and to the Community Mental Health Recovery Service (CMHRS) before she turned 18.

Her mother told the court in a statement: “I did not feel that CAMHS took Alice’s problems seriously enough.

“The CAMHS nursing team effectively acted as gatekeepers, making it very hard for Alice to access support that she clearly needed and would not have received had it not been for intervention from her GP at our insistence.”

She added: “The abrupt cut-off in mental health support when Alice turned 18 also had a real impact on her.

“It did not seem that adult services (CMHRS) took her self-harm history, and the impact of gender-affirming treatment delays on her emotional wellbeing, seriously enough.

“CMHRS’ co-ordination with CAMHS in assessing her needs, in my view, was totally inadequate.

“Alice was suddenly cast out of care because she did not meet the adult threshold for intervention, despite having been identified as needing support the week before.

“The sudden switch between services (and thresholds for support) on the day she turned 18 left her abandoned at a moment when she particularly needed help.”