More and more people in Britain are looking to undergo treatment to allow their bodies to correspond with their gender identities, with demand having skyrocketed over the last 10 years, the Guardian reports.
Data obtained by the paper through the Freedom of Information Act shows that referrals to each of the UK’s 14 gender identity clinics have risen dramatically—some have even ballooned by several hundred percent. London’s Charing Cross clinic, for instance, has seen referral numbers rise from 498 between 2006 and 2007 to 1,892 between 2015 and 2016. Clinics in Nottingham and Exeter have also experienced a huge influx.
The downside, of course, is that the surge has increased appointment waiting times, which are currently an average of around nine months for adults and around 4.5 months for children. The long wait times can be distressing, even fatal, said Louie Stafford, the trans coordinator for LGBT Foundation:
“You’re referred from your GP, there is no contact with any specialists or clinicians until your first appointment at the gender identity clinic,” said Stafford. “People are completely on their own, sometimes for up to three years, dealing with issues around gender that are potentially life-threatening … It’s not surprising that people get desperate in that timeframe.”
Around 60 percent of trans women treated at Charing Cross sought vaginoplasties, which comes with a wait time of 81 weeks. In contrast, only 1o to 30 percent of trans men wanted phalloplasties.
Dr. Leighton Seal, a consultant endocrinologist at the Charing Cross clinic, attributes the uptick to increased acceptance.
“I think the societal change has been really important, society is more tolerant, more accepting and people who are gender-nonconforming are a lot more visible. I think trans people have also found their voice as well,” he said.
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