Understanding and accessing healthcare options as a trans or nonbinary person in the UK might feel overwhelming or frustrating, and trans people seeking gender-affirming healthcare options can face barriers such as long waiting times and slow referrals. However, there are many organisations in London and across the UK that aim to help make trans healthcare more accessible and provide support to those who are seeking it.
In the UK, most trans people who wish to medically transition have two pathways: through the NHS, or private services. To be seen by the NHS you first need a GP referral, then will be directed to a gender clinic for a first appointment. This is usually then followed by further appointments or referrals. However, waiting times for initial appointments can be over two years. Waiting times for private clinics tend to be shorter, averaging about six months, but seeking treatment through this pathway is generally not covered by private health insurance companies.
Treatment at gender clinics varies and is dependent on the individual’s needs. It is also possible to receive prescriptions of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) before an appointment at a gender clinic. These are called bridging prescriptions, and can help those who are faced with long waiting times. GPs can issue these temporary prescriptions, but not all are willing to do so. Some GPs may not be as responsive as others to the needs of their trans patients, but it is possible to change GPs to find a better-suited practice.
There is certainly room for improvement in making healthcare more accessible and inclusive for trans people in the UK, but there are numerous activist groups and organisations that advocate for better trans healthcare and can provide support to those seeking it.
For example, Pride in Practice works with GPs and medical services so that they are better equipped to care for LGBT+ patients. Groups such as Action for Trans Health are working to make trans healthcare more democratic and accessible, and also organise mutual aid groups and solidarity funds. There are also many organisations providing emotional support, such as the Black Trans Foundation which helps Black trans and nonbinary people access free or low-cost therapy.
Resources at King's
There are lots of resources for support at King’s and locally in London. King’s has a Trans Toolkit which signposts resources as well as information on making changes to documents and records such as ID cards. The LGBT+ Network also represents and supports trans students at KCLSU, and is holding a panel on trans healthcare during Trans Awareness Week.
Sources and further reading
Navigating UK Trans Healthcare - Trans Health UK
LGBT+ and Improving General Practice - NHS England
Pride in Practice - LGBT Foundation
Trans healthcare - TransActual