#TransDocFail hashtag: The Lowlights

Following on from the news that one of the few private doctors dealing with Trans issues has had complaints made against him by fellow doctors, Sarah Brown suggested that Trans people tweet their bad experiences of doctors using the #TransDocFail hashtag. Most of these failures go uninvestigated, because people are afraid of not being believed or having vital treatment witheld as the following demonstrate:

@AutistLiam: Told counsellor (who also does NHS counselling) abt abusive, gaslight-y behaviour from psych. Was told “She’d never do that!” #TransDocFail
@AutistLiam: For example, I never complained about my abusive psychbecause I didn’t want to end the only NHS route out of Place-I-lived #TransDocFail
@InWhichAlex: Urologist then stops anyone else trying to treat me, after formal complaint asking for him to no longer be involved in my care #TransDocFail
Anonymous: Charing Cross GIC told my psych that I was suicidal asrevenge, after they discovered a negative blog post I wrote about them.#TransDocFail
@TransDocFailAno: “#transdocfail I tried to complain, at which point I was told the next appointment I had for arranging second opinion would be cancelled.”
@TransDocFailAno: “#transdocfail I am terrified of talking about my experiences because I am afraid of having treatment withdrawn by the GIC.”

The hashtag took off in a big way. There are thousands of tweets now, but below are a hundred or so grouped by the most common themes emerging from the trend. Even the General Medical Council themselves joined in, pointing people at resources for complaining:

@gmcuk: We have a website to help patients if they’re concerned about the care they’ve received from a doctor http://ow.ly/gDmvQ #TransDocFail

If you’d like to contribute yourself but don’t want to out yourself, an anonymous service @TransDocFailAno, is available via Tumblr.

The NHS doesn’t do that!

Think you can go to the GPs and get treatment for Gender Dysphoria? According to some GPs, the NHS doesn’t deal with Trans people…

@Tara_Hewett: Doctor at GP drop in refused to believe i was seeing endocronolygist on nhs “all that trans stuff is only available privately” #TransDocFail
@auntysarah: When I approached GP surgery in 2005, the doctor had never heard of gender dysphoria and “The NHS definitely doesn’t do that” #TransDocFail

The excuse for this is often because doctors have watched too many TV programmes about Trans regret, and think everyone is like that.

@auntysarah: My gynaecologist treated me with hostility, asked if I”regretted it”, suggested trans women eventually detransition & take T #TransDocFail
@qbnaith: My psychiatrist initially refused to refer me cos “most people regret transitioning” #transdocfail

Sometimes, the NHS really doesn’t “do that”. Or at least, bits of it.

@MissCassHoskins: #transdocfail Brighton PCT wont fund laser treatment as they don’t see the benefit
@S0phieH: also the NHS denied facial hair removal, so sometimes I’m terrified to walk outside, till I can afford it myself #TransDocFail
@auntysarah: Most PCTs will not find hair removal from vaginoplastydonor tissue. Apparently vaginal hairballs are “cosmetic”. #TransDocFail
@mixosaurus: In Notts PCT, *all* cross sex hormones were red-listed. GPs didn’t have authority to prescribe; GIC didn’t have funds #TransDocFail
@quarridors: Lots of impressively depressing stuff on the #TransDocFail hashtag. I eventually got good treatment but my PCT refused to fund meds in 2002.

The long wait

So you’ve convinced your GP that in fact the NHS does do this sort of thing. And they’ve written a referral for you… or have they? Strangely, referrals for Trans issues often seem to end up lost at the bottom of the pile.

@JessWardman: had a referral to psychotherapy lost for nearly a year. Still no idea why. At time, thought waits that long were normal. #TransDocFail
@NotRightRuth: I’m very lucky – only 5 years from seeing GP to getting surgery. Mostly nice doctors. Still can’t afford laser treatment. #TransDocFail
@SimonelyMe: Overall because if my 3years 2months & counting wait for a GIC appointment I have been self medicating for 9months #transdocfail
@bluefoo: First GIC appointment next week, first went to GP for help 44 months ago #TransDocFail
@kara_louise18: #transdocfail having my GIC referral sitting on my GP’s desk and him not doing owt about it for ages, until I went and reminded him.
@lilylayer4: #transdocfail I learned my request for treatment was denied in a copy of a letter sent to my GP, without explanation or after support.
@major___tom: My GP repeatedly told me she’d referred me when she hadn’t. Took 11 months from asking to be referred to being referred. #TransDocFail
@Ithlin: @Lady_Muck666 CHX
told me that they were unable to type out a letter dictated on 13/12/12 earlier than Feb ’13. #TransDocFail

At least delays are not outright refusal to give treatment or right letters

@Aurum_Boss: My GP refsued to re-prescribe anything for 6 years because estrogen was “off-licence”. #TransDocFail
@CherylMorgan: GP refused to attest that I’d had surgery so I could get a GRC. I had all my hospital notes, and, you know, a vagina… #TransDocFail
@Christabel321: Former GP told me to pull myself together and stop wasting his time #TransDocFail
@Ginnheim: I knew a pre-hysto trans man denied HRT after 3 years of being on it.His ‘monthlies’ returned,making him lethargic & miserable #TransDocFail
@IntercomTrust: had a teenage client who’s Dr asked him to wait a yearbecause then “you’ll be at uni and the Dr there can deal with it” #TransDocFail
@Lady_Muck666: Doc in Jersey refused me treatment point blank I paid £40 for a badly spelled letter telling me2 go away #TransDocFail
@LymanSays: I was told to ‘focus on [my] disability, that’s what’sreally important’ – transition apparently being an optional goodie. #transdocfail
@elided_: The first GP I told later told me he could no longer treat me because I was trans; he later shredded my notes #TransDocFail
@elided_: Subsequent doctors practice withdrew post-op HRT without asking me; had to refuse to leave surgery to get it back #TransDocFail
@itsjustabout451: GP: i’m ‘wasting his time’ when he has to prescribe meds as my GIC won’t prescribe but writes to him ‘recommending’ he does… #transdocfail
@laurenisolde: #TransDocFail #lies “Legally I can’t prescribe hormones until you have a therapist’s letter”. (Then I found an informed consent clinic)
@lolvixen: #TransDocFail I first saw my GP for help 13 years ago. He refused and humiliated me, and suicide was preferable to risking a different GP.
@major___tom: GP refused to write me a letter to say I live full-time as male because he said only an endocrinologist could certify that. #TransDocFail
@wiriamu: Only doc in my old area that’d treat me without outright contempt or scorn was a pediatrician. I was 23. #TransDocFail

The Transsexual broken arm

So you have treatment! Now every medical issue you have will be related. Broken your arm? It’s probably because you’re Trans. This problem, I have to point out, isn’t confined to the Trans community. When meeting with the General Medical Council last year, they report that people with disabilities or mental health problems get the same treatment.

@PublicMatt: Denied care for a heart condition because “I have all this gender stuff going on so it was probably in my head” #TransDocFail
@GreenSkyOverMe: RT @[protected] Insistence on genital exam before chest xray for chest pain #transdocfail #AandEfail
@InWhichAlex: Made to wait >2 years for psych appointment (at GIC) before being treated for clear urological problem #TransDocFail
@Diran_Sky: I was denied access to a therp. for my depression as Iwas “already seeing” someone at the GIC. for 30mins. every 3-6 months #TransDocFail
@Flaneurble: My GP recently outed me to two student docs and then referred to me as a trsnsgender. I only wanted a repeat prescription. #TransDocFail
@AutistLiam: My GPs are nice and friendly and completely clueless about trans issues. Suggest every ailment is a side effect of HRT. #TransDocFail
@Inkysloth: Local Mental Health services kept refusing my referrals for phobia support as I was seeing a gender identity psychiatrist! #TransDocFail
@Jenny_Alto: Denied access to local MH counseling service because “you’re with the GIC”. The GIC don’t do non-specific counseling. #TransDocFail
@PublicMatt: Told I probably have BPD by a dr who saw me for 15 mins based on “gender confusion” despite living as male for years #TransDocFail
@PublicMatt: Having my physical condition repeatedly called psychosomatic because I’m trans and also have MH problems #transdocfail
@SemiStealth: GP refers me to hospital 30 miles away even if it’s just something a simple as a stomach ache #transdocfail
@Tara_Hewitt: Hearing consultant flicked through medical file questioning about hormones &my gender dysphoria diagnosis NONE OF HIS BUSINESS #TransDocFail
@a_cognito: #TransDocFail I need a (hopefully) routine gynae checkup, but my GP wants to send me back to GIC at Charing Cross
@auntysarah: A trans lady I know was refused emergency access to gynaecology for over a year because PCT was arguing over how to pay for it #TransDocFail
@flippac: Shrink blames financial problems due to DWP admin errors on “problems managing money”, apparently transition-related #TransDocFail
@flippac: Clinic has no disability training. Disabled, can’t work? No RLE, no HRT. Obviously that depression’s about your transition #TransDocFail
@major___tom: Routine appts about non-trans stuff turned into chats about my gender even when I just wanted help for a hurt back or w/e. #TransDocFail
@major___tom: GP thought depression was ‘normal’ given my being trans & thus ADs pointless. Even though they alleviate the depression. #TransDocFail
@scattermoon: @TheCraftyTracy #TransDocFail H was taken to hospital after losing 2 pints of blood post-op. They didn’t do anything.
@scattermoon: @TheCraftyTracy #TransDocFail actually, they did. They brought in a team of nurses to gawk at her because they’d never seen one before.
@schokopflaster: All docs have to unbiddenly talk to me about trans* after learning why I’m taking hormones. Even when I see them about a cold. #TransDocFail

Pointless abuse

Sometimes, it goes beyond simple refusal to treat and turns into outright abuse, either deliberate or unthinking, and inappropriate treatment.

@AutistLiam: NHS Psych told me I wanted to transition to male cos Iwas too ugly to live as a woman. Also told me I’d never pass as male #TransDocFail
@Diran_Sky: RT my wife was told by sexual health clinic that she’sat high risk for AIDS/STIs because she “has sex with transgenders” #transdocfail
@Diran_Sky: RT was turned away at reception of gyno who shouted about “it” and “do they have a vagina” – needed external granuloma removed #transdocfail
@JessWardman: was called a “shemale” by the gender specialist psychotherapist pre-GIS referral #TransDocFail
@LupieStardust: District nurse taking blood asked me if I was going to have genital surgery. Only there for bloods! #TransDocFail
@Oh_Dani_Gal: With that doctor I was required to undergo unnecessarymedical exams to receive HRT, e.g. regular orchidometer checks. #TransDocFail
@PublicMatt: Despite explaining my situation was told before a sexual health check that I was “really a woman” #TransDocFail
@TheCraftyTracy: #TransDocFail during my visits to A&E during this episode I got groped by a doctor and lectured by a nurse how it was a shame effort was
@TheCraftyTracy: #TransDocFail put into trans treatment while there was no cure for cancer. Which is what I needed to hear when bleeding to death.
@TinTower: Leeds GIC, as I mentioned last night, were really keen to perform a genital exam. My GP, thankfully, wasn’t. #TransDocFail
@a_cognito: #TransDocFail recent foot surgery, I told anaesthetist I’d had vaginoplasty. His reply “Well it takes all sorts….er…I’m OK with that”
@a_cognito: #TransDocFail first GIC appt, presenting as female, friendly blood nurse saw I was trans on paperwork “OMG you’re one of them!” #80s #AIDS
@auntysarah: A historical #TransDocFail – in the 1990s, the UK’s largest gender clinic would insist you divorced prior to treatment.
@eiridescent: Sexually assaulted (breast groping) by endo as a condition of receiving necessary care. #TransDocFail
@elided_: Repeatedly been told by GIC that long-term post-op complications are “because you don’t sleep with men”. Feel that’s my fault. #TransDocFail
@major___tom: Psychologist, when I asked for a CHX referral from her, asked me how often and how I masturbate #TransDocFail
@marliesanna: First thing my GP said after I’d worked up the courageto tell him I was trans: ‘You don’t exactly have a very feminine body’ #TransDocFail
@tanyabloomfield: #transdocfail Dr Green (Charing Cross GIC) “you’re going to be an ugly woman”
@zoeimogen: I rang NHS Direct to get help for partner. NHS Direct doctor spoke to them and told them to leave me as I was an “abomination” #transdocfail
@zoeimogen: Even within the T healthcare community, there’s prejudice. One Dr was worried about “creating she-men” http://www.complicity.co.uk/blog/2012/03/unintentionally-creating-she-men/… #transdocfail

Doctor knows best

You’re really gay, or too young to transition, or it’s your mother. Or something. If an expert said otherwise, I’m still not sure.

@AutistLiam: Me: I’ve lived as male for over a year & want hormones Psych: Young people can live successfully as trans w/o hormones#transdocfail (contd)
@Flaneurble: @auntysarah
when I went to GP about GD he said ‘nothing wrong with being gay’ and sent me to a family planning clinic .WTF !! #TransDocFail
@Ginnheim: GP refused to prescribe HRT even *after* I’d been recommended them by GIC over concerns that I was “not taking them safely” #TransDocFail
@HannaMadeIt: I talked to
my doc about wanting treatment for my dysphoria, I wasn’t “trans enough” #TransDocFail
@Inkysloth: One Gender
Identity psychiatrist suggested I was trans because I was rebelling against my lesbian mother. #TransDocFail
@JessWardman: had it supposed that I wasn’t really trans because I played D&D and Jess was apparently just a new character for me #TransDocFail
@KelestiMMO: #TransDocFail my first doc told me that my disconnect to my body, my reflection, my life, all needed to be medicated, not treated.
@Lady_Muck666: I saw 3 psych pro’s about being trans, they ALL told me I was just depressed and to get a job and I’d feel better #TransDocFail
@LupieStardust: Told by
psychiatrist at pre-referral evaluation that I was too young to “know for definite”. I was 21. #TransDocFail
@MizBrea: First doc I saw in Virginia said “You’re already Intersex, so why bother with the transition nonsense? Isn’t that enough?” #TransDocFail
@Oh_Dani_Gal: Had working, appropriate HRT doses severely reduced bya doctor because they, and not
I, wanted my libido to return. #TransDocFail
@Starlight_Witch: “you have to be 18 before you make any serious decisions about your gender” #TransDocFail
@flippac: Surgeon talks about “the cosmetic op”, mansplains my own sexuality to me. Gee, I had no idea what my clit is/isn’t capable of. #TransDocFail
@flippac: Repeatedly implied that I should not identify as butch. Care coordinator cedes to clinic re existence of queer gender roles #TransDocFail
@jackiets: When i first went to my GP and explained how i felt hereferred me to a Behavioural Specialist….the dark ages of 2002 #TransDocFail
@laurenisolde: #TransDocFail My first endo flat out refused to prescribe hormones because I wasn’t wearing women’s clothing. Apparently I wasn’t serious.
@marliesanna: Sexuologist told me I wasn’t trans and shouldn’t go the GIC because I disliked my penis, not severely disliked it. #TransDocFail
@marliesanna: Sexuologist officially diagnosed me with transvetic fetishism as GID was too definitive and this was the closest alternative. #TransDocFail
@qbnaith: When I said I had no interest in genital surgery my GPtold me I ought to have it cos “sex is very important to some people” #transdocfail
@qbnaith: As if sex is the reason for transitioning, and as if Icouldn’t possibly have sex with my genitals the way they currently are.#transdocfail
@wiriamu: Was accused by my former endo of supplementing my hormones when she’d prescribed wrong dosage. #TransDocFail
@wiriamu: Former shrink wanted me to wait till I was 30 to transition and ‘had experienced male life fully’ #TransDocFail
@wiriamu: Said shrink was also convinced that I had Aspergers, and was transitioning to ‘give myself a perpetual role to play’ #TransDocFail

Administrative errors and misgendering

Another common complaint is failure of the NHS to be able to update records to accommodate new names, titles and genders properly. That’s assuming it’s an administrative mistake of course, and not deliberate misgendering or “outing”.

@AutistLiam: @christineburns NHS Psych started “accidentally” mispronouning me and using wrong name when I tried to get her to follow it #TransDocFail
@AutistLiam: Despite repeatedly being directed to NHS policy, health centre staff kept saying I’d need a dx of GID before changing records #TransDocFail
@AutistLiam: NHS policy is to change name, title and sex on patientrecord on demand. NHS staff refused to believe this when I told them. #TransDocFail
@Chastance: MH nurse told suicidal me that they couldn’t use my name because some imaginary guy might want to go by ‘spike’. #TransDocFail
@FyremaneFoxx: Been setting up with new GP, when filling out forms onFriday, I was changeing all the Mr. To Ms. & male to female #TransDocFail
@InWhichAlex: Psych invented name to call me because I wouldn’t tell him my birth assigned name #TransDocFail
@JessWardman: was informed by docs that was not possible to change gender marker at surgery and title was gender-linked. #TransDocFail
@Lady_Muck666: Went to my GP presenting as female, asked to change my records, even now they still refer to me as male… #TransDocFail
@SimonelyMe: I was continually referred to by my former name even though I had provided copies of the NHS documents on gender variance #transdocfail
@a_cognito: #TransDocFail I volunteered I was trans to a chest surgeon who then referred to me as he/him to the nurses
@amywok1: @auntysarah just transitioned nervously sat in drs waiting room. Doctor shouted “old name!” , outed by gp. #TransDocFail
@cnlester: My GP was, at first, supportive. Then called me a ‘pretty young lady’ during a chest exam – despite my top surgery. #TransDocFail
@ctonry: GPs routinely out me to nurses via blood test forms #transdocfail
@ctonry: GP thought I was cis at the beginning of an appointment, but managed to misgender me by the end #transdocfail
@major___tom: Took receptionist 4 months & 3 copies of my deed poll to update name & title. Having Miss Tom Robinson outed me in meantime. #TransDocFail
@major___tom: Receptionist ‘forgot to write down’ my first psych appt for a CHX referral & I had to rebook. Another 2 months’ delay. #TransDocFail
@thebeardlessone: Also, he filled in a form with a preferred name box without asking me, put in my birth name. I have no proof this was fixed.#TransDocFail
@thekeywordgeek: Repeated misgendering of elderly trans woman friend dying of cancer by male nursing staff who shoulda known better. #TransDocFail
@zoeimogen: Doctor treating one of my kids refused to use “Ms. O’Connell” in notes. Insisted on male titles/pronouns. In front of the kid. #transdocfail

Jumping through hoops

Can’t make an appointment? Dared go private? It’s back to square one.

@Aurum_Boss: In 2004 Charing Cross GIC kicked me off their treatment programme because I’d missed one appointment. #TransDocFail
@Diran_Sky: depression, anxiety and heavy snow made me miss 1 app at the GIC, then i was informed I had been removed from their books #TransDocFail
@S0phieH: #TransDocFail cancelled appointment for surgery to look after dying father. can’t get another appt. without ‘re-proving’ I’m still trans
@Tara_Hewitt: Diagnosed privately wanted nhs surgury referrals afteryrs on hrt told id have to go back at beginning of treatment pathway #TransDocFail
@auntysarah: A few weeks from surgery, Cambs PCT said they wouldn’tfund me unless I started as a new GIC patient, with a 2 year wait. #TransDocFail
@auntysarah: This was, ostensibly, so the referral would meet with their surgeon’s acceptance criteria. It was the same surgeon. #TransDocFail

Non-binary genders don’t exist

Even vague transgressions will be punished: I demand that you conform to my ideals about gender! Remember Vazquez from Aliens? Some doctors don’t apparently. (Really, this topic could do with a blog post on it’s own.

@Diran_Sky: Any talk of being non-binary was quashed swiftly. very much felt binary was the only way they would accept #TransDocFail
@miah_: My first therapist told me to do things a “real girl” would do. Her example was to go see “Sex in the City(movie)”. #TransDocFail
@Oh_Dani_Gal: Was refused transition treatment for being lesbian, riding motorcycles, and not wearing skirts and heels to appointments. #TransDocFail
@Sirius7dk: Interesting to read the #TransDocFail hashtag whilst i am on my way to a doctor thathas already refused me HRT for being non-binary


  1. I’m not one of the twitterati, but I’d really like to see a #TransDocWin tag going round as well, because people need encouragement, and there are some great GICs and GPs out there too.

      1. Thanks – by the way, I’m in no way knocking the need for whistle-blowing on appalling behaviour from healthcare professionals (or even just ignorance). I recently wrote a letter to one of my local practice’s GPs to explain to her why misgendering me, and telling the pharmacist over the phone that “he’s still a man” (in front of me) was inappropriate. I sent her the relevant pages out of “Trans: A Practical Guide for the NHS” so she had some internal standards of care to refer to, as I assumed she was just uninformed. Never got a reply. Meanwhile, everyone else without exception down here in Devon has been amazing. And I’ve also had no problems with people in the system over being non-binary. But I hear some awful stories from other people.

        1. Yes, I have to say that most medical professionals I’ve dealt with have been positive. I’ve had some sort of issue with around a third, possibly less.

          Unfortunately, the repercussions when even minor issues do occur can be so serious that it does put one off seeking medical treatment at all.

          1. It’s true. I have a recurrence of an old urology issue, and because I’m mid-transition (but now as officially female as I can be at this point, including new NHS number and all) I find myself much more wary of the treatment I’m going to get in hospital – partly because in my experience, you’d be hard put to find a less empathic bunch than urology experts. And it’s very hard to be assertive with someone while they have a telescope… never mind. I guess my point is that the further up the expertise tree you go in the NHS, the less people skills they seem to have, in general.

  2. And we must not lose sight of what started all this off – Dr Curtis apparently being attacked in what seems like a re-run of the Russell Reid saga.

    Given that the funding for gender services is being capped and more core treatment will be available under NHS, I wonder if I am correct in suggesting that waiting times will increase. This may push more folk into the private sector where Dr C offers a non psychiatric treatment path. If Dr C was squeezed out then there is always the private route now offered, I understand, by gender practitioners also employed at a major GIC.

    We need choice as does any service user. Dr C being supported, during what must be a most difficult time for him, is in our best interest. I am not sure how best we do this.

    The GMC appear to be investigating the wrong person/people, based on #transdocfail.

    Good work Zoe!

  3. I’m puzzled about the NHS Direct one. NHSD don’t have doctors, not one. Just nurses and non-clinical staff. Any doctor a patient/caller speaks to after calling NHSD is from the patient’s own PCT, usually the out of hours service

    In addition to that they have the best HR policies I’ve seen WRT trans and gay/lesbian staff, black/minority ethnic employees, and disabled staff. It has a zero tolerance approach on any bigotry.

    I worked at a couple of sites (now closed, thanks Cameron!) and saw two people fired on the spot just for trans-related fail. As in literally being handed a black bag, told “Clear your pod and leave”.

    That was before I came out. Thanks to them my RLE was simple. They immediately changed my logins, payslip, backdated and copied my assessment records to reflect my chosen pronouns, before shredding the. original, so as not to out me in the future.

    I had too many treatment fails to count, but work even helped me complain through the local PALS for my PCT.

  4. Remember there is no guarantee that what someone says in a tweet is true.

    For example, I have a vested interest in making this a news story, so I get a bunch of online friends to create a few accounts each and tweet made-up stories. Whether or not this is happening is of course not my call, but you have to admit the cold hard fact that it would be simple to pull off for any given topic or concern.

    1. That’s true in principle, but my local and on-forum experience suggests there are a shitload of people out there with genuine bad stories (I have a few of my own). Most of it is on the back of ignorance among healthcare workers, but some of it is also prejudice. Given that trans people are pretty vulnerable, and don’t often get the opportunity to vent and be taken seriously, I think there’s a fair chance that the majority of these reports are true.
      I’ve noticed in conversations with trans people that once someone tells a grim story about GP treatment, for example, other people start realising they’ve been on the receiving end of this too, and that it’s not acceptable. There’s still a culture of giving up one’s will to healthcare professionals in the UK, especially among the older generations, so it can be hard to feel like it’s okay to express unhappiness at how we’re treated.
      And as for vested interest, it’s then equally possible that the campaign against Dr Curtis (for example) is driven by people who want to repress freedom in gender expression and are doing the complaints-system equivalent of what you’re suggesting. There’s no way to tell, either way.

  5. I hear about this kind of thing all the time. It’s why I don’t dare to even try to seek treatment for my own gender problem, why I have only told half a dozen people about it, and why I won’t use a name on this comment.

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