Mythogenesis: more on trans costs

OK. Still a need for a detailed costs paper – just to show the reptiles that there is an alternative version. Meanwhile, however, here’s the intriguing story of how we ended up with the myth of a £60k cost for MtF grs. Many thanks to Andrea for the ferret…

As far as her research goes, the first mention of £60,000 in connection with grs turned up in January 2009. Before then, apart from the fact that papers picked up on detail and sometimes got the number of potential ops wrong, they were mostly quoting £10k, which was about right.

This was in a policy document produced by the East Midlands Clinical Priorities Advisory Group, which came out with £60k as an upper limit for more complex FtM re-assignment surgery (but a range of £20k to £60k quoted) and £12k for MtF.

Fast forward to March of that year, when the Sun referenced that figure in respect of a story about “a Turkish transsexual woman” (sic) granted UK asylum. The focus, doncha know, is how awful it is that these bleedin forinners come over here and take our resource. And the upper limit of £60k has magically transformed into “at least £60,000-worth of NHS surgery”.

Interestingly, the writer of this piece uses the phrase “£60,000 spent already”, which is to cover ”the first phase of the complex surgery”.

Roll on April 2010 when a transsexual had the gall to threaten legal action over a boob job. Miranda Lee, 40, claimed she had been left “half man, half woman” and wanted her health authority to pay for her to become a “real woman”.

The journo behind this piece in the Sun added: “Her transformation has already cost taxpayers £60,000 and the breast op could add another £8,000”. Huh? Recycled copy? Perhaps.

The local press then followed the Sun, stating: “It is thought operations like Miranda’s can cost up to £60,000.”

Like. Huh? It is thought? As though this is a prediction for climate change, when a single simple phone call could actually establish exactly how much the amount actually is.

At about the same time, E Midlands NHS trust were still quoting £12,000 for MtoF and £20,000-£60,000 for FtoM. However, by the time Miranda’s case came to court all the papers were quoting the figure as money she had spent: the Telegraph, f’rinstance, happily gave £60,000

One minor light in the dark: an interview given by a certain woman of trans history to the Stamford Mercury led to the correct figure being quoted.

In September of this year, the Sun turned back to considering FtM transition, with the story of Lee and a procedure which “involves several major operations and costs in excess of £60,000”.

And that brings us pretty much up to date with the case of Cathy Daniels. I’ve covered that one off and I will be interested in following this a bit further tomorrow. Basically, the trail starts with the Lancashire Telegraph which quotes the £60,000 figure as gospel, runs on into the Star with the same figure intact, and then pops up in the Sun with some rather spiteful digs about taxpayer funding added on top.


P.S. I’ll be phoning the Sun newsdesk tonight to inquire about where they got their figures from…and the Lancashire Telegraph tomorrow. WIll let you know how it turns out.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    To be frank, I’d be pretty surprised if even FtM surgeries cost this mythic £60K at the top of the range. And of course, many people don’t have them. What about a Freedom of Information request to establish exactly what PCTs are paying (and it would be great to put it in the context of other surgery costs too)?

  2. 2

    Paige said,

    And there was me, with a naive view that a journalist’s mission in life was to tell the truth, without fear or favor. That price the freedom of the press when it’s used to advance sectarian views?

  3. 3

    Paige said,

    And I know I got the apostrophe in the wrong place 🙂

  4. 4

    mishmich said,

    £60K seemed an extraordinary figure; when last I looked, it could be done privately for £6-7K. Unfortunately, this kind of error fuels overt transphobia like the twanzphobic blog (I’ve given up trying to figure out a way of commenting on this site – seems they only want transphobic comments – so I just pass on). No amount of ferreting and retraction can put that lie back in the bottle – especially when people like this are happy to spread misinformation.

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