Letter to my MP about Liz Truss and medical treatment for trans youth

About three weeks ago, Liz Truss gave a speech to the Women and Equalities Select Committee, which included discussion of the Gender Recognition Act, and potentially restricting access to medical care for trans youth:

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.

Like many people, I was concerned about her comments, and the potential impact on young trans people. I’ve been meaning to write to Stephen McPartland, my MP, about it for a while, and this evening I finally sent him this email:

Dear Stephen,

I hope this email finds you well and safe.

I am writing to express my concern about the Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss’s statement of 22 April [1], and specifically her comments about restricting access to healthcare for trans youth. Please excuse the slight delay in writing.

The clear consensus of the international medical community is that medical intervention for trans youth is beneficial, often lifesaving. The UK’s current treatment process has been improving the lives of young trans people for over two decades, and it would be disappointing to go backwards.

Ms Truss’s plan is based on a concern that a trans child may grow up to regret receiving treatment. However, research consistently shows low regret rates for transition-related treatment. Last year, doctors from London’s Gender Identity Clinic found just 0.47% of their patients experienced regret and sought detransition [2]. By contrast, denying trans people access to healthcare can cause lifelong problems, risk of self-harm and even suicide. This plan cannot be justified on the basis of medical or patient wellbeing.

In her speech, she talks about protecting trans youth from making “irreversible” decisions. In practice, the NHS treatment available to trans youth is already “fully reversible” [3]. Trans children under 17 are only prescribed hormone blockers, which delay the onset of puberty and potentially distressing physical changes. If somebody stops taking the blockers, puberty resumes. Irreversible hormone treatments or surgeries are only available to adults.

I know you have spoken out on welfare issues in the past, and I hope you will take a similar stand on this issue – both on behalf of myself, and others in Stevenage. The UK already lags behind many nations in our support for trans rights and freedoms, and we cannot allow ourselves to take a step backwards.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

~ Alex Chan (they/she)

[1]: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/minister-for-women-and-equalities-liz-truss-sets-out-priorities-to-women-and-equalities-select-committee
[2]: https://epath.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Boof-of-abstracts-EPATH2019.pdf, “Detransition rates in a national UK Gender Identity Clinic”
[3]: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/treatment/ section “Hormone therapy”

I also included my full address and a phone number – MPs can only handle queries from their own constituents – but I’m not going to share that here.

I sent a similar email to the Women and Equalities Committee.

If you feel similarly, I urge you to consider writing to your own MP. Use my letter as a starting point if it’s helpful (although don’t copy it word-for-word). If you’re not sure who your MP is, the WriteToThem website allows you to look up all your local politicians.