“special” services…for special people

Two outwardly unrelated stories about the NHS, cropping up in the last couple of days, maybe provide some insight into the way in which public, press and, yes, trans community, too, deal with issues in the media spotlight.

Let’s start with some special privilege awarded to a group whose gender creds (and orientation) might just be considered by some members of the public to be ever so slightly dubious. I mean, of course, dancers.

That’s right. As announced on the Beeb earlier this week, the NHS is setting up its first specialist dance injury clinic for…well…for injured dancers.

Why? I guess because, like any other sort of high risk profession, there is a certain commonality to the injuries suffered by dancers. There may well be bad habits that contribute toward repeat injuries. Pressures of work that make it imperative that dancers learn to move more carefully. I dunno. But you can see why such a clinic might be useful.

You can also see an economic case for it. An injured dancer is not much use to anyone: is a drain on state resources. While back at work, not only are they self-supporting but, if famous, are earning dosh for the country. How nice of them!

Public outrage

But just read some of the comments against that piece!

“Yet another waste of taxpayers’ money!”

“Whatever next? a specialist gardening injury clinic?”

There’s a link provided to a recent piece about cancer patients not getting treatment. There’s stuff about the NHS going to the dogs. And there’s stuff about special treatment for a group whose treatment need comes from lifestyle choice.

Yep. I’d guess most trans readers can see where i am going with this: pretty much all the same rude, uninformed, ignorant tropes directed at anyone who isn’t a poor “deserving” victim – like a cancer patient – and is therefore deemed to be getting one over on the rest of us.

And to hell with the possibility that this clinic makes economic sense.

Trans paranoia?

Although the comments do unpick one trans trope: which is the idea one might sometimes glean from trans boards that we alone come in for this sort of criticism. As with the story this week of a 78-year-old preparing for grs, possibly at the age of 80.

Its on the Beeb – and its in the Sun, as well as featuring on a rather poor, self-identifyingly insightful blog on the topic.

Let’s run thru what this story throws up. First, there is a reaction from some parts of the trans community that is almost: look, they’re picking on us again. Which i’d suggest is a dangerous reaction.

The NHS blocks treatments to many groups, mostly on grounds that there are danges implicit in the treatment or that the risk outweighs any potential benefit. That will always be the case where an 80-year-old is contemplating (major) surgery. So to suggest that raising the question in this instance is JUST transphobia is perhaps a tad paranoid.

Although that doesn’t mean they AREN’T out to have a go. Because actually, loads of decisions like this happen every day, with some 80 year-olds getting ops and some not. Which suggests strongly that even if this story highlights a real issue of public policy, the interest in it is coloured yet again by the fact that a trans person is involved.

The blog is patronising, rude and really quite nasty – even if i suspect the author would honestly claim that wasn’t their intention. It typifies a certain sort of net writing: supposedly rational and detached; but replete with quite hurtful language, spotted here and there with put down and dismissal.

Press bias

The reason for citing both the Sun and the Beeb is that both come up with costs for the procedure. The latter quote £2k, while the former – irony of ironies! – come up with £13.5k.

Huh? We-ell, the irony here might well be that the Sun have finally stopped quoting their ludicrous figure of £60k for grs and are now quoting the figure i circulated for a standard grs. Except in this case, that standard figure might well be wrong for the same reason that an 80-year old would contemplate such surgery: to wit, we are not talking a FULL reconstructive surgery with vaginoplasty.

That would make a lot of sense, and therefore to some degree defuses the angst in the Sun.

Two last points, though. It is clear that this is going to be a persistent theme: the undeserving weirdos vs. the deserving cancer patients and the trans community needs to be making a better fist of the case FOR spending. Yeah, yeah: its a human right. But that doesn’t cut much ice down the local on a Friday night.

Interesting, though: while the same fuss about privileged groups surfaces in =commentary on the dance clinic, there is one detail the Beeb seem to have forgotten to put in. Can you guess what it is? Oh, yes: the cost.

Which maybe IS an issue for Trans Media Watch: that if the press are going to focus over and over on the cost to the public purse of the trans community, they should be rquired to pay the same attention to every other community, from boy scouts to rugby players to alcoholic journalists.

Ooops! Did i really suggest that?

I think i did. 🙂

jane xx


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Hamish said,

    Unfortunately, trans people are very easy targets when it comes to journalists wanting to find a way for the NHS to save money. There’s plenty of ways in which the NHS could do this: abolish free prescriptions for people who can afford to pay, abolish free car parking at hospitals, introduce a £10 charge for every GP appointment (like there exists in Germany), cut down on the number of bureaucrats/administrators, etc.

    The possibilities of what could be done to save money are endless, yet all journalists ever come up with is “ban NHS sex changes”. This is despite trans women (and trans men on Sustanon) subsidising the NHS through the low cost of their medication, along with the actual benefits of SRS in getting depressed trans patients back into employment & reducing their reliance on mental health services.

  2. 2

    Jenna Powell said,

    I saw Ruth’s interview on Daybreak yesterday morning, in fact I wouldn’t have known about it if my family hadn’t told me that there was something on TV that I should see.
    I thought that Ruth came across really well, especially when she was asked how she could justify her GRS when the NHS is so starved for cash.
    I did feel that Ruth might have managed to put Kate Garraway on a back foot after one of her comments as she was being interviewed.

  3. 3

    We at Trans Media Watch have spoken with the BBC about this. They seem to be making a real effort to get it right and they appreciate the nuances of the situation.

  4. 4

    just another tranny said,

    So, if SRS is avsilable for 80 y/o’s, it must be readily available for everybody. So I guess all those sorry excuses used by all those non-ops, like ‘medical’ or financial reasons, will no longer apply.

  5. 5

    Paula.. still alive, listed missing.. TransPanther said,

    I think there should be clinics for ugly bastards.. Today I had to go collect my prescription.. strewth there were a lot of people I would class as plain UGLY out there.. I was traumatised by the 30 stone monsters in lycra and crop tops I was subjected to at every step.. ewwww.. I ran my 9 1/2 stone 6 foot frame home as fast as my long legs could carry me in blind terror as if from The Tingler..

    In most cases fat and ugly is a lifestyle choice.. it certainly is for 99% of the ffuglys.. I reckon they don’t have mirrors in their houses in the north.. or maybe they do.. them bendy ones they used to have at the seaside.

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