The family of a young trans woman who died while waiting for NHS gender-affirming treatment have said the extent of waiting lists is an “act of aggression”.
The inquest was heard this week at Sussex County Cricket Ground in Hove, with coroner Sarah Clarke adjourning her conclusion until two weeks’ time while she considers a prevention of future deaths report.
Speaking on Wednesday, Alice’s family, who have been supported by the Good Law Project, said they hoped their daughter’s inquest would be a wake-up call into the state of transgender care.
Alice’s mother Dr Caroline Litman said: “We believe the rulings we’re going to hear more formally in two weeks’ time are going to have very positive outcomes to facilitate important and much-needed change throughout the NHS and systems involved in the care of trans people.
“In particular we’re absolutely delighted the extent of the wait list has finally been acknowledged and unchallenged by the gender identity clinic, that someone referred on their 18th birthday tomorrow would not be given NHS support for gender-affirming care until they approached their 40th birthday.”
Peter Litman, Alice’s father, also said on the extent of waiting lists: “I think it’s quite deliberate.
“When you know something’s there and you do nothing about it, it’s not a neutral act.
“It’s kind of an act of aggression really, I think it’s very, very sad.
Dr Litman added: “Transgender people are being hung out to dry. Alice was a smart, intelligent person, she could see no-one was taking care of her and no-one cared.
“What does that tell you about a 20-year waitlist, what does that tell you about how important you are?”
During the inquest, evidence was heard from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which ran gender identity services Alice was referred to, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which ran child mental health services, WellBN, Alice’s GP at the time of her death and online transgender clinic, GenderGP.
After hearing the evidence, Ms Clarke said: “It seems to me all the services are underfunded and insufficiently resourced for the level of need the society we live in now presents.
“It’s extremely important we recognise how important these issues are not just here in Brighton and Hove but everywhere.”
The court heard Alice, originally from Surrey, first told her sister she felt she was a woman in September 2018 and went to see a doctor about her gender identity later that year.
It was also heard Alice had been receiving hormone treatment privately at the time of her death.
Read more: 'Travesty'- trans people 'let down' by long NHS waiting lists, inquest hears
Alice started her journey to transition in August 2019, which gave her a “marked boost”.
But the long waits for treatment caused Alice’s mood to dip again and Dr Litman said the experience with CAMHS was “distressing”.
She said Alice was “cast out of care” when she turned 18 because she did not meet the threshold for adult intervention – despite having attempted to end her life on two occasions.
A spokesman for WellBN said: “We would like to pass our heartfelt condolences to Alice’s family at this very sad and difficult time as they have to relive the tragic circumstances of Alice’s death.
“We remain committed to providing the best possible care for our trans and non-binary patients and invite them to contact us directly if they wish to do so.”
A spokesman for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust said: “We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of a patient who was waiting to be seen at our Gender Identity Clinic, and offer our condolences to her loved ones.
“It would not be appropriate to comment while the inquest is ongoing.”
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