The HSJ is reporting that a transexual man who became a woman 10 years ago has had her appeal case denied against her PCT who refused to pay for breast enlargement surgery on the NHS, after hormonal treatment failed.
There are various conditions which cause sexual ambiguity, and the psychological pain and identity confusion experienced by people who are ‘intersex’ must be acute. Witness the case of Caster Semenya, the African runner. However there is another cohort of people who physically have all the characteristics of one gender yet want to be the other. The reasons will be diverse and should not be dismissed out of hand, but should the solution really be tax-payer funded? Where do we draw the line between want and need? What are the the limits of NHS therapy? As the judge in this case said “there was no duty in either public law or discrimination law to classify all treatment and procedures sought by transsexuals as high priority or core procedures”. That actually goes for all of us, not just transexuals.
The plea that the refusal violated her human rights and amounted to sex discrimination was rightly dismissed. The NHS has been held hostage to human rights – it’s time we set it free by defining the boundaries of treatment more clearly.