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Healthcare options for trans youth in the UK

The current healthcare system is completely unfit for use, but what can it help you with and what are your options outside of it?

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Where are we now?

Following the closure of the only youth clinic in England & Wales, and the issuance of the interim service specification, NHS Arden and GEM are now running the National Referral Support Service (NRSS). They now manage the waitlist for youth gender services.

How long is the waiting list?

From an FOI request made in October 2023 the waiting time can be inferred to be a minimum of 5 years.

If the wait is that long, what is the point of getting referred?

According to the interim service specification 6.2:

Young people aged 17 years and who are unlikely to be seen by The Service by the time of their 18th birthday may be transferred to the waiting list of an NHS commissioned Gender Dysphoria Clinic for adults. In such cases, the Gender Dysphoria Clinic will honour the original referral date to the children and young person’s service for the purpose of access into the adult service.

Given this, if accessing adult NHS gender services is a part of your transition goals (surgery, hair removal etc) then getting on this list should reduce the time spent waiting for adult services.

What is the Gender Experience Summary (GES) questionnaire?

Upon referral, you may receive a GES questionnaire. Completing this is optional and may not be in your best interest. For more information about the GES, check out our post about it. Also, see this article from QueerAF.

But in short, the GES raises a number of red flags and we strongly advise against completing it.

What options do I have?

Unfortunately, with the NHS continuing to erode trans healthcare, there are currently 3 options for young people seeking gender affirming care:

1. Get a referral to the NRSS or Youth Clinic available to you.

For those 16 and under:

If you live in England & Wales, you will need to ask your GP for referral to the NRSS. If you live in Scotland, you will need a referral to Glasgow Youth Sandyford. If you live in Northern Ireland, you will need referral to Belfast KOI.

For those 17+:

You can be referred to an adult gender clinic in your country.

Not sure what information to bring to your GP? check out our personalised document generator.

2. Seek private healthcare to access hormones and blockers.

If you are aged under 16, currently private providers in the UK will not prescribe blockers or hormone treatment. GenderGP do offer these treatments as of writing.

If you are aged 16+, you can access hormones from a UK based, GMC registered private gender clinic, with these conditions met, you should be able to access a shared care agreement with your GP, meaning you will not have to pay for the hormones out of pocket.

Please be aware if you choose a provider outside of the UK, or when accessing hormones under the age of 16, The NHS have been implementing harmful changes that could result in safeguarding actions.

3. Go DIY.

More information about DIY HRT can be found in our article on accessing HRT in the UK.

Disclaimer: Nothing within the contents of this article constitutes to medical advice, this is purely our interpretation of the available information. Further independent research is highly advised.

Article content last updated: May 2024

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