One more time – “gender reassignment surgery is not a lifestyle choice”

February 25, 2010

I’ve run into the barely-contained hysteria of the Manchester Evening News’ tabloid journalism before (“Toilet signs ‘too PC'”), so although the tone of this piece is tediously familiar, the content is possibly more alarming.

Health bosses have been ordered to slash spending plans for the NHS in Greater Manchester by almost ONE BILLION pounds.

[…]

The ‘efficiency savings’, which are outlined in several of Greater Manchester’s PCT board papers, will begin in April and must be made by 2014.

[…]

It is understood that other savings could be made through a reduction in lifestyle services such as […] gender reassignment.

Yep, that old chestnut: “gender reassignment surgery is a lifestyle choice”. Except that it isn’t. Neither is it anything to do with sexual orientation; it’s not a disease, or a mental disorder, or any of the other timeworn transphobic tropes.

Interesting that the source of that particular assertion isn’t named. It couldn’t possibly have been made up by a journalist, could it? Oh uncharitable Helen, how could you be so cynical to even think such a thing?

But hey, why let the facts get in the way of another round of offensive disinformation from a tabloid newspaper? And don’t even start me on the racist hate speech in the comments.

Oh Manchester, so much to answer for…

5 Responses to “One more time – “gender reassignment surgery is not a lifestyle choice””

  1. Phoebe Says:

    I dunno. They’re putting it next to weight loss surgery which also tends to only be given to people who’ll die otherwise. Suspect it’s possible that that’s how the NHS leak talking to the journalist will have presented it because of the juxtaposition. Obviously IVF on the other hand is pretty clearly lifestyley on account of it’s nice for people who want kids to be able to have them but if pushed I’d rather put the cash down on life saving stuff whether immediate emergency care or dealing with long term like trans medical support, physio/orthotic provision and the rest of it.

    Because the most most people see of the NHS is their GP on a semi regular basis and occasionally emergency services, there’s a weird public discourse that ignores the fact that the NHS is involved in improving quality of life for lots of people with ongoing support needs (wheelchair service, providing adaptive/assistive tech, tubes and machinery for people with complex health needs living in the community, community nursing services, all sorts of ongoing stuff which enables large numbers of people to get out and get on with life and being active parts of society rather than stuck in an institution somewhere).

    I’m all for targetting the NHS to keep it on-role in that respect, but the MEN article just doesn’t look like a journalist sticking the boot in because of how many other cuts are being mentioned in the same breath.

  2. Helen G Says:

    I wonder how much of Greater Manchester’s PCT budget is spent on “gender reassignment”?

  3. Phoebe Says:

    Fiddy pee.

    Actually last time I heard what gender consultants on the NHS get paid, a few years ago, it was in the range of £300/hour long appointment (although that might be regional, I don’t know). They’d be better off sending people down to Dr. C.

    Throw in the fact that Leeds GIC (which a lot of people in Manchester get posted to) has been repeatedly picked up for bad performance in terms of waiting lists and people spending years seeing said expensive consultant (which probably result in significant part from problems with them being quite restrictive about transition criteria, and like a lot of the others being rubbish about accepting that people on benefits can actually also be carrying out Real Life Test requirements).

    Medication costs are pretty negligible, and surgeries are more or less a one off cost, but psychotherapy/diagnostic process can be strung out indefinitely by a bad shrink.

  4. Phoebe Says:

    Maybe that’s the argument we need to put about improving waiting lists and gatekeeping situations – it’d be cheaper for the taxpayer if they implemented an informed consent model with counselling running alongside for those that need it (rather than begrudgingly accept it).

    :D

  5. Steph Says:

    Having got my two referrals from regional NHS GICs for surgery, and then trying to use ‘NHS Choice’ in order to have my SRS in London, I’ve now been fighting to get surgery for over a year.

    Why? Because totally wasteful and unneccessary internal commissioning within the NHS means that if I want my surgery at Charing Cross, I cannot use my two perfectly valid referrals from regional GICs because Charing Cross will only accept referrals from the psychiatrists at Charing Cross GIC only.

    Therefore, for me to have surgery there means that I have to undergo at least two further psychiatric assessments leading to referrals from Charing Cross GIC! – oh, and the cost to my PCT for this pleasure? £950 per appointment even though they’ve already paid for two refferals!

    So, ‘NHS bosses’ might want to look at their own expenditure on internal markets, commissioning politics and middle management, before deciding to cut funding for gender reassignment – because y’know, it actually saves lives!


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