TRANSforming Futures is a partnership project bringing together 10 organisations (Be:North, CliniQ, Galop, Gendered Intelligence, GIRES, LGBT Consortium, Mermaids, Sparkle, Stonewall, and UK Black Pride), aiming to create lasting change for trans communities within healthcare and criminal justice systems through research and funding projects by and for the trans community.
Prior to me joining, the partnership created three reports to highlight trans people’s experiences of the criminal justice and healthcare systems using surveys, community workshops and input from experts. These reports include suggestions from the participants on what could be done to improve these systems for trans people which served as a starting point for the next stage of work, awarding money to projects that align with TRANSforming Futures’ aims.
As the theme for this LGBT History Month is Medicine – #UnderTheScope, celebrating LGBT+ people’s contribution to medicine and healthcare historically and today, we feel that this is the perfect opportunity for us to platform some of our TRANSforming Futures awardees whose work fits into the healthcare branch of the project. I asked them to write about their projects, the gaps they identified in healthcare provisions and how their work aims to improve them.
The funding from TRANSforming Futures has enabled TransActual to do more healthcare focused work.
In 2020, the participants of our community survey indicated that healthcare was one of the biggest issues they wanted TransActual to work on.
The 2021 Trans Lives Survey highlighted the impact of discriminatory attitudes (transphobic, racist and ableist) on trans people seeking healthcare of all kinds.
Negative experiences impact our willingness to engage with medical professionals, which means that medical conditions are more likely to be diagnosed later, impacting the outcomes of any treatment. That’s why it’s important to do what we can to reduce the likelihood of negative experiences – training and guidance for medical professionals is a good start. TRANSforming Futures funded a programme of four webinars for health and social care professionals – more than 250 professionals attended our first three webinars, and more than 75 people have viewed the recording. There are already more than 250 people signed up to attend the fourth webinar in the series. We take heart from this – there is clearly an appetite for training on trans people’s needs in relation to healthcare.
We’re currently conducting further research into trans people’s healthcare experiences, which will be used to inform a new guide into trans inclusive hospital care. Both the research and guidance will be available in mid-2024.
The funding from TRANSforming Futures is also supporting the creation of a comprehensive guide to medical transition for UK based people. This guide, to be hosted on our website as well as available as a series of PDFs, draws on the wealth of lived experience within our organization and will feature top tips from the community and community members’ experiences as well as straightforward, practical, reliable information. Having easy access to information will support people to make well-informed decisions around their medical transition and to plan for surgery and surgery recovery without having to spend days trawling the Internet for it. Our ‘What Do I Need To Know About Surgery?’ resource will go live early in 2024, with other parts of the guide coming out later in the year.
Forge is a social group for trans-masculine people in Manchester. Meeting in-person once a month, along with online meets and space to hang out, we are only too aware of how, for many of us, our health needs aren’t getting met by the NHS (87% of nurses caring for trans people say they feel unprepared to deliver their care, (UK nurses lacking skills to treat transgender patients, says research | The Guardian) and, as a result, many of us don’t trust cisgender medical practitioners to meet our health needs, so we don’t seek help when we otherwise would.
To try and improve this, we have been using funding from TRANSforming Futures to run 12 health-focused sessions. We have interpreted health broadly as we know it involves improving knowledge about our bodies, confidence in accessing healthcare when we need it, and better understanding how to keep ourselves well (especially if we can’t get the healthcare we need from professionals).
We have been going to trans professionals to provide these workshops, as this has helped us feel confident that they understand our bodies and our health needs, as well as ensuring psychological safety in our sessions. This also has the impact of the funding cycling through another layer of trans people when it is spent, so it is twice as impactful on trans communities.
So far, we have run and booked further sessions on:
- Working out at home or at the gym with a focus on physical accessibility and post-surgical healing
- A private gym session with a trans Personal Trainer
- A session on understanding bottom surgery options
- A session on mental wellbeing in dealing with day-to-day and media transphobia
- Massages for people who bind regularly
We’re also exploring swimming, yoga and mindful meditation sessions for neurodivergent minds.
We’re very grateful to TRANSforming Futures for supporting us with this funding.
The TRUST Project
Across the UK, some people have access to great healthcare, while others struggle to obtain the care they need. These healthcare inequalities exist for various reasons, but individuals from marginalised communities often have worse experiences than others do. While some trans and non-binary people have access to a GP with experience of their needs, others are faced with roadblocks and are unable to access the care they require (a 2018 study by Stonewall showed that 32% of trans people received unequal treatment, compared to 13% to the LGBT community as a whole).
These experiences can have a huge impact on people’s mental and physical health. Having seen the differences in healthcare provision first-hand, we were motivated to create something that could help ensure everyone in the UK has access to gender-affirming care from their GP. As a result, we created the TRUST project.
The project is a collaboration between Oval Health, a health technology company; WellBN, a GP clinic in Brighton; and The Clare Project, a charity run by and for trans, non-binary, gender-variant, and gender-questioning people. Together, we are developing tools for GPs, to enable them to provide inclusive care. We are creating resources for GPs to enhance their understanding of trans healthcare, irrespective of their location in the UK or their level of experience. We will equip doctors with the knowledge they need to support trans and non-binary patients, ensuring they are treated with consideration and receive the outcomes they need. We are also developing resources for trans and non-binary people to empower them within the healthcare system and help them navigate their healthcare options.
At the heart of the TRUST project, we are creating software that integrates with GP systems across the country, aiming to make it available to 98% of UK GPs. These integrations will give GPs guidance on how to provide gender-affirming care, and the confidence to refer or prescribe based on the latest guidelines. We have already conducted consultations with the trans and non-binary community to ensure that the tool caters to different needs within the community, utilises appropriate language, and trains GPs to communicate sensitively during consultations.
Through this work, the TRUST Project is charting a course for a fairer healthcare system that supports the wellbeing of trans, non-binary and intersex individuals across the UK and promotes gender-affirming experiences.