Trans-formational? Why we need to do better for trans young people in the UK
Katie E. McDowell
Junior Doctor in Paediatrics, GB
Dr Katie E. McDowell is an ST1 Doctor training in paediatrics in South London. Prior to retraining as a doctor, they had a successful 10 year career working in policy, lobbying and campaigning with a range of charity and other organisations. They are interested in global health, infectious disease and issues relating to LGBTQ+ communities, especially transgender and gender diverse young people. They identify as non-binary and use they / them pronouns and are a member of GLADD (the association of LGBTQ+ Doctors and Dentists).
Gender diversity and issues facing transgender people are poorly covered in the medical curriculum, yet these will be some of the most vulnerable patients that we work with, facing higher rates of mental health issues, violence, stigma and discrimination. Unfortunately, the continuing global pandemic and associated Government response have only served to further entrench the discrimination and inequalities faced by trans people in the UK, particularly trans people of colour, those with disabilities and trans young people. This paper seeks to provide an overview of who trans people are in the UK and to outline key issues facing this community. It will consider in further details the context of transphobia in the UK, including the Government’s failure to meaningfully reform the Gender Recognition Act, and the specific challenges facing trans young people in accessing healthcare. It argues we need to take a human-rights approach to trans issues and move away from a medical model which seeks to define gender diversity as pathology. Only if we better understand our trans patients can we both better meet their health needs and help to challenge entrenched structures of discrimination.