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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2006, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Yorks and Lincs: The trauma of transsexuality
Len Tingle
Len Tingle
Political Editor
BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Claire Eastwood
Claire's treatment took her to Thailand, but with mixed success

It sounds like something out of a horror story.

But for hundreds of people across our region it is a grim reality.

They are known as transsexual or as they prefer to be called trans-people.

They suffer from Gender Identity Disorder.

Psychologically they are one sex, but physically another.

It is a condition that can leave sufferers depressed, even suicidal.

But with modern medical treatment, help is available. For some it takes the form of a sex change. Yet many of those suffering from the disorder claim the NHS is in effect with-holding treatment.

Treatment not universal.

Once again, it is our old friend the postcode lottery.

And according to those awaiting treatment for a sex change, west Yorkshire is one of the worst offenders.

Forty-six-year-old Claire Eastwood, says, in 2004, Calderdale Primary Care Trust told her she would have to wait at least six years for sex change surgery. It was not a wait she was prepared to endure.

"I took out a loan and had surgery in Thailand.

Claire McNab
Claire McNab of 'Press for Change' is outraged at NHS attitudes

"It wasn't very successful. I have complications and Calderdale PCT's response to this has been less than helpful.

"I feel that I've been discriminated against for no other reason than I'm a transsexual."

Trans-people Campaign group, "Press for Change", believe Claire's experience with the NHS is all too common.

Outrageous

Vice President Claire McNab said: "There are far too many people trying to go through the process of gender transition through the NHS who encounter absolutely outrageous obstacles and huge delays.

"There are some clinics, most notable the one in Sheffield, that are making huge efforts to meet the needs of their clients.

"But unfortunately some of the other facilities within the NHS have historically tended to regard trans-people as an oddity.

"If you happen to end up in one of the clinics which give trans-people an outrageously hard time you have no alternative but to seek treatment somewhere else."

Claire Eastwood certainly has no doubt Calderdale PCT has been giving her a hard time.

Claire Eastwood and Claire McNab
The two Claires enjoying some fresh air

Waiting times for treatment in West Yorkshire are longer than in neighbouring East Yorkshire, even though they both use the same clinic.

Change coming?

So far, across West Yorkshire, just one person has received a complete sex change operation in the past year.

In response, a spokesman for Calderdale PCT told the Politics Show: "We are working with Leeds Gender Identity Clinic and the other Primary Care Trusts in West Yorkshire to look at how the waiting time for assessment and treatment can be reduced.

".We make sure that patients undergoing both assessment, medical treatment and the surgery, receive a high standard of care and support."

Local politicians are now beginning to ask questions¿ why so few results for thousands of pounds spent?

Change could be on the way in West Yorkshire.

Unfortunately any change will come too late for the likes of Claire Eastwood.

The Politics Show

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