Social Issues

The long wait that puts transgender people’s lives at risk

By Raul Bobé

London, Jun 29 (EFE).- Transgender people wanting to change sex through the United Kingdom´s National Health Service can face waiting lists of over five years, leaving them in a long-term gender dysphoria which can sometimes lead to suicide.

According to government data, there are between 200,000 and 500,000 transgender people living in the UK, but only a dozen public gender identity clinics across the country, leaving many unattended.

“They just put you on a list for years and years, hoping you are going to get a call,” Briar Walkden, a student who identifies as a non-binary trans person, told Efe.

Walkden, who prefers to be addressed as ‘they/them’, is one of the thousands of people who took to the streets of London this week to demand equal rights for transgender people.

“As of now I have been waiting for about three and half years and I still haven’t had my first appointment,” non-binary transgender person, Magnus, said.

Even though Magnus said they felt lucky that their gender dysphoria – a sense of unease due to a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity – was not very severe, for others it is a matter of life and death.

This was the case for the Northern Irish transgender activist Sophie Gwen Williams, who after waiting more than five years for her first consultation at a gender identity clinic, committed suicide in May due to gender dysphoria. Williams was 28 years old.

Williams had co-founded trans organization We Exist with Jo Alloway, who said her friend’s death was the result of the “systemic violence” she faced daily.

The internal anguish caused by having to live with an identity mismatch combined with the external discrimination suffered by the trans community seriously affects transgender people’s mental health, she warned.

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