7 February 2017

Kate Hutchinson: Wrexham to Euston – my journey to meet the General Medical Council

Blogged by Kate Hutchinson, Director, Wipe Out Transphobia and All About Trans facilitator.

When I found out who All About Trans was planning an interaction with in October, I jumped at the chance to facilitate the session. Myself and a group of trans and non-binary people were to meet with the General Medical Council (GMC) in London. The GMC is an independent organisation that helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice across the UK. They set standards for doctors, oversee their training and education and act on concerns about doctors.

This meet-up was part of All About Trans’ series of interactions that focuses on trans people’s experiences of healthcare, a small number of which will take place across the country with healthcare and media organisations until February 2017. It was our second interaction of the series with healthcare professionals, with the interaction team in Leeds meeting with NHS England earlier in the month.

Mermaids charity representatives

I kicked off the day by welcoming GMC staff, who came from the Regional Liaison Service, Standards, Education and Equality and Diversity departments. The group had come prepared, having watched Kate Adair’s “Trans 101” video resource, shared with participants ahead of the interaction.

GMC staff and the trans and non-binary group briefly introduced themselves, giving their names and pronouns. I explained why pronouns are so important for trans folks; you can’t always tell somebody’s gender identity by their appearance.

Next, we split into small groups for a general chat, giving us a chance to get to know one another. I had an interesting conversation with one of the GMC’s Regional Liaison Advisors about our shared love of rock music. We then came back to the group, talking about what we had learned from our conversations.

In this group discussion, someone raised the point that every trans person’s experience and transition is unique. It’s important not to stereotype people’s healthcare journey. Other conversations included Mermaids’ CEO speaking about supporting trans youth. A young Mermaids volunteer talked about hormone blockers being life saving and empowering for young people. Mermaids is a charity working with trans and gender questioning children and their families, and we were lucky to be joined by three representatives on the day.

The group share their thoughts

After the group chat, we had a shuffle around so there were new faces to talk with. This time we asked more directly about the key challenges that trans people might face in accessing healthcare and thought about how the healthcare system can improve its practices to be more trans inclusive.

It was clear that GMC staff were eager to learn more about the barriers non-binary people may face when accessing healthcare. An example of the obstacles include some people feeling they must falsely assume a binary identity to get any sort of medical treatment: they feel their identity is not seen as valid by some medical professionals. This lead onto a discussion about inconsistent knowledge within primary healthcare across the country about trans issues, and the need for improvement and education overall.

The day felt very positive, lots of open minds and innovative ideas. The Education team and many of the Regional Liaison Advisors talked about developing trans case studies to be used in training and including trans case studies into all areas of healthcare – not just trans health.

They wanted to take learning and examples from the day to share with doctors. In the Regional Liaison Advisors’ trainings, GPs will be encouraged to admit if they have a lack of understanding about trans healthcare and seek advice.

Kate Hutchinson facilitating

Representatives from Equality and Diversity were keen to use the newly gained awareness and case studies to break stereotypes and encourage diversity. The Standards team also wanted to develop case studies about trans people’s experience of health, to educate medical professionals with their approach to trans healthcare. In general, the group were keen to explore further training opportunities.

Another great day. Bring on the next one. Let’s talk!

All About Trans