King's Lynn resident calls for more GPs to be trained in gender issues
More GPs in West Norfolk should be trained in gender issues.
That’s according to one Lynn resident who says she has faced difficulties at her GP surgery, and she believes that none of the 14 doctors there have had training in the matter.
Bella Francesca, who identifies as a transsexual female, said the situation is “pretty shocking in this day and age”.
“In a practice of 14 doctors it is not unreasonable to have two or three doctors who are at least trained in the basics so that when somebody walks through the door, for example, they use the correct pronouns,” she added.
Bella said she still experiences gender dysphoria – a condition which the NHS website describes as when a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a “mismatch” between their biological sex and gender identity.
She said a recent incident has reinforced that more doctors should have a basic understanding of gender issues.
Bella claimed a GP refused to prescribe her usual Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) medication as they said “did not feel comfortable” doing so after a change in its license, which meant it was no longer manufactured in the UK but was still legal to prescribe.
She said: “At one point they actually said to me, ‘if you stop taking the pills you can go back to being a man’.”
Bella added: “They were not trained in gender issues and didn’t have the first idea.
“When somebody’s got that little knowledge, they haven’t actually got the frame of reference. I wasn’t a man in the first place.”
She said she has had treatments such as facial feminisation surgery, voice surgery and hormone therapy.
“By the time I got to this doctor, there was no going back to some medical state of maleness.”
Bella said she is calling for this change in the hope that others in a similar situation do not experience these issues.
“I want every practice to have trained staff, and sufficient staff, so that if somebody is off, there is still coverage.”
A spokeswoman for West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: "West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) encourages GPs to access specialist training to help them to gain greater understanding of the specific issues facing transgender patients.
"The CCG will be supporting GPs by facilitating an education event for GPs in 2019 which will focus on supporting patients from the transgender community."