Saturday 12 January 2013

a failure to care

It's been quite a week for trans news. On 6th January, David Batty wrote in the Guardian about the GMC's investigation of Dr Richard Curtis, whose  Trans Health Clinic provides a private alternative to the sometimes problematic access to medical services for trans* people under the NHS. It is alleged that Dr Curtis made errors in prescribing hormones in some cases. As David Batty says,

The case seems likely to revive the furore over the treatment of gender dysphoria in the UK triggered by the GMC inquiry against Dr Russell Reid, a psychiatrist who provided private treatment for transsexualism. Reid was found guilty of serious professional misconduct in 2007 for breaking international guidance between 1988 and 2003.
 It's possible, of course. I do remember that case very well; I was a patient of Dr Reid's, back in 2002, and thought him a very good, understanding and professional man; I was alarmed to find that he was subjected to this treatment by the GMC, and was not alone in thinking that the case smacked of territorialism on the part of the three senior consultants at Charing Cross GIC, who brought the case.

As for reviving a furore, though, that seems to be more David Batty's intention than the GMC's. The juicy element  in both stories, from a sensationalist perspective, is the presence of someone who transitioned and then regretted it and blamed the medical practitioner who helped them. In the case of Dr Reid, it was Charles Kane / Sam Hashimi. In the present case, it is an unnamed patient who underwent a double mastectomy.

These are the stories the tabloids love, and apparently David Batty loves too. Part of the spin-off from the Reid case was the BBC Hecklers programme in which Julie Bindel argued that 'sex change is unneccessary mutilation'. Julie's opposition to transsexualism is ideologically-driven, and for several years she seemed to make it her mission to Stamp It Out. I recall the debate between Susan Stryker and Julie Bindel at Manchester Metropolitan University in December 2008, in which Julie again displayed what I concluded must be a wilful ignorance of the facts. I wrote at the time
The general gist of the event was that Bindel accepted that on all the points raised, she was less informed than other people present at the debate. And those better-informed people refuted all her points. Giving chapter and verse. Bindel continued to maintain that there is a substantial and presently-organising caucus of what she termed "survivors" of the "sex-change industry". This is news to me, but then, what would I know?

Yes, there are people who regret transitioning or surgical reassignment. There may be all sorts of reasons for that; gender transitioning is not a panacea; it may solve a fundamental problem for the person who does it, but it can create all sorts of other problems too- the result of prejudice on the part of other people, mostly, of course. Even so, I contend that the number of people who can say "No, I made a mistake, my true sex is congruent with that which I was assigned at birth" is extremely small.

Which does not stop the newspapers from trying to hunt them down. Sarah Brown put out some bait for them on Twitter, saying that she, a trans woman, had undergone surgery following a misdiagnosis. Five minutes later, the press were phoning her up wanting the story. Sadly for them, the surgery in question involved Sarah's hand. This was not deemed newsworthy, and off they slunk.

The next day, Sarah began the Twitter hashtag #TransDocFail, which quickly became a catalogue of instances of bad practice in healthcare:

 ...people being called “abominations” by their doctors, people bleeding to death being refused treatment by A&E departments, vast numbers of GPs telling people to pull themselves together, or “sacking” them as patients, sexual assault by unnecessary and repeated genital examinations, and so on.

This material should be the stuff for campaigning journalists, not stories of individual doctors who are criticised for giving people what they want.

Fortunately, times are changing. At the time of the Russell Reid inquiry, trans people were a group that was talked about by other people. Nowadays, we have got our own voices, thank you very much.


  1. Very recently I caught the attention of the GenderTrender blog, and one or two other commentators, who found reason to sneer and mock (and to be fair, cry) over my post celebrating four years of transition. A New Year's Eve post on my personal views on drinking, with 'advice' for trans women, fanned the flames, and led me to take down half a dozen posts that in retrospect seemed impolitic and could keep me on the trans-haters' hit list.

    I had mixed feelings about unpublishing my posts, but didn't want a war of words with a minority of radfem extremists when, if there were to be a fight of any kind, it should be with the officials and academics and politicians and media people in the wider world. One has only so much energy!

    I was - still am, for at least one more annual review - under the care of Dr Curtis. I understand that professional jealousy is behind his predicament. Nevertheless his position is dangerous, and if he is dragged down there will be a serious gap in the healthcare provision for transsexual people willing to pay for their treatment. At least for a heartbeat. Can we doubt that a successor is getting ready? The treatment of transsexual men and women is surely a growth industry.


  2. I had a very quick nose into GenderTrender yesterday, Lucy, and had to wash my hands. I'm sorry you were put into the position of feeling the need to take posts down.

  3. Hi Dru,

    Kate Middleton here. I went to the police on March 26th 2007 to report Doctor Deenesh Khoosal for sexually assaulting me when I was an A level student at Radley College back in 1982.

    This offence on 25/11/82, amongst others, was recorded in his own writing at the time and I was horrified to discover in 2005 that he seems to have built his entire career on bullying me into a suicide attempt as a vulnerable minor and then making false allegations that I was engaging in manipulative behaviour and needing psychiatric therapy.

    I went to see Russell at the GMC in 2007 as I knew "Paul Rowe" aka Patient B very well from January 1987 onwards and it was obvious tha Rowe was lying at the GMC. In fact Rowe, who was featured in numerous Batty articles which claimed that he had detransitoned, is legally female. It is equally outrageous that Russell put Rowe through this in 18 months after a diagnosis of episodic transvestism moving towards transsexualism.

    Khoosal was arrested on September 4th 2008 but the police have failed to take action. The GMC have turned down two complaints about a vulnerable minor in spite of written evidence of dishonesty and criminal activity

    Bindel has described my CID statement as shocking but is now stomping around on Twitter accusing me of harassment for emailing evidence and Medical Commentaries to her and phoning her mobile to try to talk to her when she asked me to do this.

    She just didn't like my parodic theory about why she is a lesbian on utube. My blog may be found by Googling Deenesh Khoosal and Kate Middleton and my utube by searching for "Warden McPhail"

    I intend this story to be used to change things for others ...

    I don't think I knew Richard but I mentioned the book to Sally Reynolds nee Fielding on the phone and asked if she knew him and she exclaimed, "of course I knew him, he was my boyfriend".