I have provided healthcare and education in relation to gender diverse people for many years. Initially in my role as a doctor, working in specialised sexual health services in Worcestershire, then as a lecturer at the University of Birmingham, and latterly as a private doctor providing interim or alternative services for patients waiting for NHS care.
Between 2016 and 2018, a few doctors working in the NHS Gender Identity Clinics, which serve transgender adults and children in the UK, put in a number of complaints about my involvement with transgender care. These were largely related to my decision to operate according to international best practice, as opposed to what I believe to be a somewhat restrictive approach adopted here in the UK.
The General Medical Council (GMC) is a doctor’s regulatory body and is responsible for making sure that care provided by a doctor is in line with ‘Good Medical Practice (GMP)’. When they receive complaints about a doctor they have to investigate to see if there is a real chance that the doctor is practicing in an unsafe way.
In her letter to the British Medical Association, Susan Goldsmith for the GMC states that ‘we don’t agree that providing care for patients with gender dysphoria is a highly specialist area requiring specific expertise.’ and ‘Our principal concern is making sure that these vulnerable patients are not left with nowhere to turn.’
Although this is a very stressful process for doctors, and nobody likes to be ‘under investigation’, I am not the first doctor offering interim private services to transgender patients to come under attack. I am fully co-operating with all aspects of the investigation and hope that the resolution will mean that other doctors will feel safe enough to come forward and help trans patients in a caring, timely, safe and compassionate way.
Dr Helen Webberley