In the United Kingdom, healthcare is supposed to be free and equally accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, for the over 2,700 patients on NHS GIC (gender identity clinic) waiting lists, this may not always be true. With an average of 284 new referrals for gender identity services per month, the underfunded NHS is struggling to provide for the trans community. Their guidelines state that patients should be seen within 18 weeks, but in reality it can be more like 18 months before they even receive an initial consultation. A government report on Transgender Equality says the NHS is failing in its legal duty under the Equality Act, not only with its unacceptably long waiting times and long distances to travel to access treatment, but in the “lack of understanding” of many doctors.
Like many young trans people in the UK, Harlan, a trans boy from London, is now paying for his testosterone prescriptions himself. With the required quarterly visits to the endocrinologist, he is spending £1,400 a year to fund a treatment that should be available on the free healthcare system. LGBT-friendly alternative lifestyle community Mookychick has set up a JustGiving page to help support him get the help he needs.
Harlan has been trying to take the next step of his journey for some time now, but has found referral difficult, and doctors dismissive and uneducated.
“One actually asked me to leave when I brought it up,” says Harlan, “I want to be able to live my twenties in a way that makes me happy and feels true to who I am. Gender dysphoria and resulting mental health issues made my teen years incredibly difficult, and I’m at the beginning of something that will change my life, so I desperately want to be able to keep moving forward with this.”
He is far from the only one – in fact, the UK Government is currently being petitioned to make bridging hormone prescriptions easier to obtain for transgender people.
“Just the thought of being able to keep on testosterone without panicking about not being able to afford the next month & the idea of surgery down the line is so incredible.” says Harlan, “This time last year I was thinking I’d never transition and it was messing me up in a big way. Everyone’s support has helped me get on T & is helping me stay there and I’m so happy!”
If you would like to help support Harlan, by donating or simply by sharing his story, you can go to his JustGiving page. Any donations over his £1,000 target goal will be donated to non-profit organisation Gendered Intelligence.
Francesca Lewis is a queer feminist writer from Yorkshire, UK. She writes for Curve Magazine and The Human Experience as well as writing short fiction and working on a novel. Her ardent love of American pop culture is matched only by her passion for analyzing it completely to death.