A couple of fairly prominent news stories over the last couple of days have had me spitting. Part, the usual distaste at the veiled and, in some cases, not so veiled anti-trans agenda being pursued by elements of the national press.
But part, too, in total incredulity at the costs being bandied about for gender re-assignment. A local Lancashire paper set the ball rolling with £60,000 for grs, followed slavishly by the Star and the Sun. Proof positive, if that figure turns out to be wrong, of the pisspoor journalism at those last two papers, who would appear utterly incapable of doing even a simple fact check.
A story in today’s People suggests a lower cost, referencing grs as costing £45,000.
Meanwhile, it also throws in some interesting figures – which equally appear to be plucked out of the air – of £200 a month for hormones, and £85,000 to keep a prisoner in segregation following grs, for their own safety.
And of course, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who over the years have some serious form when it comes to fairly bigoted drivel in respect of trans issues, is there performing its usual unchecked rentaquote function.
So a couple of out-takes.
Facts – the first casualty of the tabloid wars
First, the figures are either utter nonsense, or they do represent a monumental waste of taxpayer money (which the TPA OUGHT to be taking notice of) but not quite for the transphobic reasons that actually appear to motivate them.
I’ve just done grs. I did it privately because, at my age, there is no way i wanted to wait or jump for the various hoops that the NHS expects you to jump thru. So i know what it costs: which was £10,600. Or rather, a shade under that, because technically, a chunk of that sum went on the anaesthetist.
(Yeah, yeah: i know. I guess that bit is sort of integral…but i like pedantry sometimes).
Had i wanted, the clinic – rated as the UK’s best and also a provider of grs to the NHS – could have done a cut-price package including a cricoid shave and breast augmentation whilst i was under. I elected not to: i have next to no adam’s apple (which the first procedure is intended to fix) and am increasingly happy with how my boobs are developing. Also thrown in under that ticket are post-op follow-ups with various specialists.
So. Is it really costing the NHS £60,000 to arrange grs? If it is, there’s a massive scandal somewhere in the loop – but it isn’t the grs per se. Because that represents a mark-up, give or take a few pence, of £50,000.
Sure. We’re talking MtF grs: the FtM procedure IS costlier. But the papers aren’t reporting about the latter.
What about hormones? Last batch i paid for cost the grand total of £15 a month. But they can be bought (much) cheaper.
As one individual who knows this field tells me today: if you pay prescription charges, chances are the NHS is making a small net profit out of you every time you take oestrogen.
OK. There are testosterone blockers, if needed (not everyone does) – and besides, post-op, for fairly obvious reasons, they definitely aren’t. My own treatment cost, as far as i am aware, £50 a month for six months. End of.
So again, either the press have it woefully wrong – or someone is making a hell of a mark-up.
I think two nest steps are called for. First, i will be putting together a paper on this topic. Those who know me know it will be researched to the nth degree, sourced and referenced. Anyone who thinks they can help me with this is welcome to drop me a line either direct or via the blog.
Second, i’ll be ehaving words with the TPA. I know, from their past record, that they aren’t exactly big on fact-checking on trans issues. Which sort of calls into question the veracity of some of their other big claims.
I hope, i trust, that given a few facts on the matter, they will at least get the figures right in future. If they pesist in not doing so, then i think the conclusion is pretty obvious: they are through and through transphobic and it is time some of us started to think of legal steps in their direction.
P.S. Interestingly, the Express actually appear to have got the figure about right a couple of years back – though i am bemused by the suggestion that people can’t get X-rays because time is being taken with gender-reassignment stuff.