How This Police Officer Is Helping Trans Patients Get Better Care

Gender dysphoria is one of few conditions tied to an identity that is still deemed a health issue that requires diagnosis — same-sex desire was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM) in 1973. In order to medically transition and get safe access to hormones and other support, transgender people need to come out to a doctor and are often required to attend therapy. In 2013 England's National Health Service's (NHS) changed protocol for gender dysphoria patients, asking general practitioners to refer to a gender clinic — which can offer much needed services like hormone treatment, hair removal treatments, and family support groups. Yet, many GPs still refer first to a counselor who may have little to no experience with gender identity. Gina Denham, a transgender police officer in England, is teaming up with the NHS to change that, according to Echo. It's her hope to provide trans patients in the area the support they need during transition, and get them access to one of the 7 designated NHS gender identity clinics in England. “One of the biggest barriers and potential cost to the NHS is our GPs sending our members to have counseling when they are meant to be referred to a gender clinic," Denham told Echo. "The GP just seems to ignore your request and sends you to counseling to try and cure you." When she started to transition in 2014, Echo reports, Denham went to about 65 counseling sessions — many of which were unnecessary. Since then, Denham has become a champion for transgender rights in her community. Educating doctors is not her first project. In early 2016 Denham started a support group called Transpire for LGBTQ people in her neighborhood, which provides people the opportunity to both socialize with others who've had similar experiences and to engage in activist work. The Transpire group has helped educate medical professionals by working with the NHS on training materials.
Denham and Transpire have also spent the last year talking to secondary school students to raise awareness about LGBTQ issues and provide support for queer and transgender students. They've worked on training programs to support transgender workers, arranged meetings with members of the parliament to talk about trans issues that need to be addressed, and worked with the the police and the Hate Crime Prevention team to raise awareness of LGBTQ hate crimes in the area. Here's hoping that their hard work for the LGBTQ community pays off, and that doctors can finally give transgender patients the support they need to live their happiest lives.

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