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A statement regarding evidence given by Minister Liz Truss to the Women and Equalities Select Committee, April 22nd 2020

It would be an extraordinary move for the Minister for Women and Equalities to support the introduction of a new form of inequality into British medical practice.

Today, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss MP gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee and set out her priorities for the Government Equalities Office. 

Ms Truss stated that “the protection of single-sex spaces…is extremely important.” 

We hope Ms Truss agrees that her brief as Minister for Women and Equalities includes, without question, transgender women. We agree with Ms Truss that single-sex spaces must be protected for everyone, including for trans women and non-binary people who can face increased risk of abuse and violence in public.

Ms Truss also stated: “Finally, which is not a direct issue concerning the Gender Recognition Act, but is relevant, making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future. I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions. Of course some of these policies have been delayed, Chair, by the specific issues around Covid but I can assure you that alongside the Covid work, our officials continue to do those things to make them happen.”

It would be an extraordinary move for the Minister for Women and Equalities to support the introduction of a new form of inequality into British medical practice, by effectively treating transgender teenagers as less capable than their cisgender peers. We believe that transgender young people should have the same right to make important personal decisions as non-trans people.  Furthermore, we must question why Ms Truss is making a statement about clinical pathways while answering a question on the Gender Recognition Act, which has no bearing on medical care.

Still, the NHS’s own statistics show the rate of regret around gender affirmation surgeries is very low indeed. An NHS study (Pg 118 & see pdf below) found that – between 2016/17 – of 3,398 trans patients who’d accessed NHS support at one clinic, 16 expressed regret, and only 3 made a long-term detransition. Regret following any surgery is commonplace but – according to a number of international studies – regret for post-operative gender-transition patients is far lower than for other forms of ‘plastic surgery’.

found that of 3,398 trans patients who’d accessed NHS support, 16 expressed regret, and only 3 made a long-term detransition. Regret following any surgery is commonplace but – according to a number of international studies – regret for post-operative gender-transition patients is far lower than for other forms of ‘plastic surgery’.

We would like to offer the Minister for Women and Equalities an opportunity to meet some of our young people so she can speak to them directly about any decisions which may affect their right to take the same personal responsibilities as their cisgender peers.

 Furthermore, the process by which young, trans people access medical interventions is already subject to a number of safeguards, not least the clinical judgement of expert practitioners trusted by the public as a whole within the health system. No young person under the age of 16 would typically have access to any form of gender-affirmation surgery and those aged 16 and 17 are subject to the same safeguards any young person would be when making decisions around surgery, in accordance with Gillick Competence.

18 year-old Alex and Mermaids CEO give the ‘T’ on trans rights