The Gender Variance eLearning course was previously hosted on the Royal College of GPs website.
Nicholas Hellen, Assistant Editor (Social Affairs), The Sunday Times contacted the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) on 30 January 2019 regarding the removal of the Gender Variance elearning course from the Royal College of GPs website.
GIRES responses to the questions posed by the journalist are:
1 – What led to that decision?
The RCGP had without prior warning made unauthorised changes to the content of the course for which GIRES owned the copyright. Some of those changes undermined the responsibility of GPs, as stated by NHS England and the General Medical Council, to prescribe and monitor the medication recommended by the specialist clinicians in the gender identity clinics. The RCGP was unwilling to reverse those changes. Both parties decided that the course should be removed from the RCGP website.
2 – Had there been pressure from GPs to remove the material?
GIRES understands that the RCGP had received representations from some of its members about their willingness and competence to prescribe and monitor the medication. However, many GPs have for decades been undertaking those functions, alongside prescribing and supporting an array of other conditions that they do not have specialist knowledge of. The course itself provided the information that GPs need, who could also, if in doubt, consult with the specialists in the gender identity clinics.
3 – Was there any change in medical policy?
There have been no changes in the policies relating to this matter published by NHS England and the General Medical Council, who are clear that GPs have a responsibility to support transgender patients in the same way that they would support any other medical condition, regardless of their personal feelings.
4 – What would be the consequences of the removal?
GPs who have patients for whom the specialist clinicians in the gender identity clinics have recommended treatment will no longer have easy access to the accurate and helpful information that GIRES originally provided.
5 – What is the anticipated effect of the removal on GIRES?
GIRES will be seen as remaining true to its aim of improving the lives of gender diverse people. The removal of the elearning course was implemented as GIRES could not agree to the amendments made, as this would associate the charity with misleading information for GPs that would have been harmful to the people it serves and to its good reputation.
GIRES understands that knowledge of gender dysphoria is limited, however the aim of the charity is to support people to fulfil their potential and live happy lives. Access to timely and appropriate medical interventions is a key part of promoting wellbeing for transgender people. Refusal of primary care support is a major detriment and GIRES could not agree to changes in a resource that was meant to help GPs to support transgender people with confidence, when the changes made are in direct contravention of NHS and GMC guidelines, and give GPs excuses to deny access to healthcare for transgender people.
Link to NHS England policy: http://shsc.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/SSC1620_GD-Prescribing.pdf
A more detailed account is available under Comments regarding the Gender Variance eLearning Course.