The Guardian’s continued attempt at torpedoing Trans healthcare laid bare


It seems David Batty, Guardian “journalist”, has come out of his self-imposed retirement on writing about Trans issues to produce a rather obviously spun story on Doctor Richard Curtis, a private doctor who practices in London.

For those not aware of the history, David Batty has a history of attacking anyone or anything involve in Trans healthcare, including articles about Russel Reid’s GMC hearing, a matter that is now regarded by much of the community as a witch-hunt against him by other doctors. I don’t have many details of the latest complaint beyond what was in the Guardian article, but it has been confirmed that one of the complainants is Dr Barrett. Yes, the same Dr. Barrett who was involved in the complaint against Russell Reid many years ago.

So with that background, let’s have a look at today’s article. Here’s what he’s detailed the complaints as, and I’ll deal with them point by point with reference to the WPATH Standards of Care (PDF Link).

Commencing hormone treatment in complex cases without referring the patient for a second opinion or before they had undergone counselling

There is no requirement for a second opinion or counseling prior to prescribing hormones, despite the attempt to insinuate that there is. The requirements are persistent gender dysphoria, capacity to give informed consent, being an adult (Kids have different rules) and other medical or mental concerns being “reasonably well-controlled.” (Page 104)

Administering hormone treatment at patients’ first appointments

See the above list of requirements for HRT. There is no reason not to prescribe hormones if the persistent gender dysphoria is well documented. (For example, the patient may already have transitioned, may have seen other doctors before going private or may have been on NHS waiting lists for an extended period of time)

Referring patients for surgery before they had lived in their desired gender role for a year, as international guidelines recommend

This is routine, as for transwomen genital electrolysis (Hair removal) cannot be rushed due to the growth cycle of hair, meaning some months of advanced planning is needed. The international guidelines (I.e. the WPATH SoC) state you cannot have surgery prior to the 12 month point (Pages 105-106) but make no mention of referrals.

I am assuming this is referring to genital surgery. For top surgery (Either breast enlargement or removal, depending on which way someone is transitioning) the requirements are less strict. (Page 105)

With one patient allegedly undergoing surgery within 12 months of their first appointment

There is no minimum treatment period, only a minimum period of documented real life experience which does not need to be under the care of a doctor. If there was a violation, why isn’t the surgeon concerned also be under investigation by the GMC, or the doctor who issued the second required signature for surgery?

He is also accused of administering hormones to patients aged under 18 without an adequate assessment

There is also a later reference to referring to prescribing at 16 and probably the point of greatest concern, but it’s not clear where the cutoff between adolescent and adult care begins. In terms of the WPATH SoC, it simply states the “age of majority in the country concerned” as being the cutoff between adolescent and adult provisions. The is no clear age of majority in the UK, and even the General Medical Council’s own guidance isn’t clear if it’s at 16 or 18 (Or younger) for medical purposes.

Finally…

Wrongly stating that a patient seeking gender reassignment had changed their name.

If we’re having to drag what sounds like an administrative error (And this happens more often in the NHS than private practice) then we’re really grasping at straws.

He goes on:

One of the most serious cases concerns a female patient who regrets switching to a male role. She underwent hormone treatment and had her breasts removed. The woman is one of the complainants in the current GMC investigation.

There’s nothing in here to suggest malpractice. Just a statement that someone regretted transition. Of course, there are those who will be horrified that someone had their “breasts removed” and no doubt this paragraph is designed to stoke the emotions of such readers.

Of course, Batty knows what is and isn’t acceptable and is no doubt aware of these holes in his character assassination of Dr. Curtis. He’s been after us for long enough and knows about the WPATH Standards of Care. He even quotes them later on in the article, despite the fact they indicate many of the “complaints” he lists are not themselves malpractice but rather a list of potentially routine tems that those with no knowledge of the topic might see and an example of why Trans healthcare, either NHS or Private, is fundamentally Evil.

Is all this noise significant? At this stage we don’t know. Even Batty may not know, because I’m sure if he had hard examples of WPATH SoC guidelines, he would have published them with glee. A sentence later on in the article revels that the council still have to even decide “if there is a case to answer” so really we just don’t know yet.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceWhatever happens, there needs to be a mechanism for resolving what is acceptable care that does not jeopardize careers, reinforce outdated and harmful practice, facilitate witch hunts and damage access to healthcare for the whole Trans community.

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  1. #1 by Nic on 7 January 2013 - 15:15

    Not a fan of Curtis, but there’s only one way to describe Batty …

    A bigoted old has-been

    If the Guardian weren’t so intent on transphobia themselves they’d’ve realised what Batty was aeons ago!

  2. #2 by Katja on 7 January 2013 - 16:01

    Despite my case being that I could have technically been prescribed hormones on my first vist to Curtis because of my well doccumented record of counceling and psychiatric assesmants he played it safe and didn’t. I was patient and was prescribed on my second visit. Dr Curtis has and continues to treat me in a proffesional manner. In fact a lot better than the NHS did!

  3. #3 by Melanie on 7 January 2013 - 21:04

    I was seen by Dr Curtis. He properly referred me for counselling as I was not yet “”full time”” as per the correct standards. Following 6 hours + of counselling I was referred back to Dr Curtis with the recommendation that I should be given hormones. I was treated in a most professional manner by him and his a staff.

  4. #4 by Jessie T on 8 January 2013 - 11:41

    I was a patient of Dr Reid and Dr Curtis for many years and in my experience they are both wonderful caring doctors acting in the best interests of their trans patients. I believe they both had a deep understanding of trans patients and I believe their treatment has probably saved many trans patients from buying dodgy hormones and also saved many from suicide.

  5. #5 by RBO on 8 January 2013 - 21:23

    The MPTS have imposed substantial restrictions on Dr Curtis’ practice for over a year. It is not clear at this stage exactly what the allegations are, who is bringing the allegations or whether the restrictions the MPTS have imposed are reasonable (they are certainly draconian). There is certainly a strong public interest in knowing all three.

    The blog post though seems to be trying to shot the messenger. David’s Batty’s repeats what he claims some of the allegations are. If the reporting is accurate, and no one has suggested it is not, then this is “not a spun story”. Instead it indicates that there may not be substance behind the allegations and hence the MPTS may have acted unreasonably.

    There is one serious error in the article. In paraphrasing the WPATH guidelines it states that a one-year RTE is needed prior to breast surgery which is incorrect. Apparently this was a problem with the editing and the Guardian are in the process of correcting it.

    Other than this one serious error, the article is a responsible piece of journalism. Take a look at the Daily Telegraph or Daily Mail’s variants to see how ‘spun’ it could be.

    • #6 by Zoe O'Connell on 9 January 2013 - 12:57

      I doubt anyone who is familiar with David Batty’s coverage of Russell Reid’s GMC hearing would dare accuse him of being “accurate” or of “responsible journalism”!

  6. #7 by Roz Kaveney on 9 January 2013 - 15:31

    I spent an hour or so back and forth with David Batty on twitter today. Either he is not entirely truthful or he really is prepared to sacrifice the human rights and wellbeing of all actually existing trans people so that Standards of Care are in place that ensure that no hypothetical non-trans patient with a mental illness could ever get through the net. I am not sure whether that’s worse than bigotry.

  7. #8 by Steph on 10 January 2013 - 09:24

    Not to excuse Batty’s piece in the Guardian which has clearly got some sort of spin going on (and I don’t trust him much after his reportage of the Reid situation), but I think its the Telegraph and Daily Mail’s articles which post-Leveson, seems to display more than anything that little has changed in the neo-liberalist media’s attitude to trans people and their care.

    Very concerning this latest attack upon Dr Curtis though. I’m not much of an advocate for private healthcare due to my political beliefs, but without the likes of Reid and Curtis, trans people are simply not always afforded the best of care and support by NHS gender clinics and psychs and their draconian and egotistical gatekeeper methods.

  8. #9 by Steph on 10 January 2013 - 13:43

    Oh my, only just caught up on the Suzanne Moore stuff, is she taking up Bindels crown :(

  9. #10 by Rose White on 16 January 2013 - 21:08

    Batty gives the impression of being the pen name of a transphobic lesbian let alone a transphobic homosexual.
    However in regard to these allegations against Curtis what is needed to remember is that the Human Rights Act gives everyone the right to change their bodies howvere they wish – this is hard to accept for many and needs someone at the top of the Justice Department to rule on whether or not the Human Rights apply.

  10. #11 by Rose White on 16 January 2013 - 21:12

    Suzanne Moore is another lesbian with BRSS- Bindel-Raymond-Stein Syndrome brought on by unrestricted ingestion of estrogenic vaginal secretions during lesbian sex.

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