Everyone is entitled to treatment for their gender dysphoria

Opinion articlesRFSL

In the television show Uppdrag Granskning's follow-up of the criticized episode "Tranståget och tonårsflickorna" (the trans train and the teenage girls), information about fewer referrals to gender dysphoria assessment teams for adolescents is highlighted as something positive. In our experience, raised thresholds for accessing care can lead to great mental suffering in these patients.

May 13 2020

During the past year, fewer referrals have been made out to assessment teams for adolescents suffering from gender dysphoria. That is evident when you watch today’s episode of Uppdrag Granskning: “Tranståget – fortsättningen” (the trans train – the continuation). In the television program, the fact that fewer referrals are made is highlighted as a positive bi-product of the on-going debate. RFSL and RFSL Ungdom do not think that a decrease in the number of referrals is a victory in itself. Instead, it could mean that there are people in need of gender-affirming care, or of exploring their gender identity, who now can’t access it.

We have already seen such tendencies. More adolescents than before have contacted us saying that they can’t get a referral even though they need it. They tell us that their gender identity has been questioned by BUP, school psychologists or parents. Even parents who support their children’s gender identity have contacted us and told us about how their child’s gender identity has been questioned by others – relatives as well as professionals.

Getting a referral doesn’t mean that you will get care. Not everybody will need care in the end. Some adolescents need to explore their identity and talk to a professional. It might lead to the realisation that they don’t suffer from gender dysphoria and that there’s no need for gender-affirming care. But in order to reach that conclusion, a referral still has to be made.

Since the new year, only child and adolescent psychiatry are authorised to make out referrals to the gender dysphoria assessment team for children and adolescents in Stockholm. It’s an unfortunate development that raises the thresholds for accessing care. More adolescents risk ending up in a situation where the hunt for a referral becomes drawn-out and mentally taxing.

Uppdrag Granskning seems to think that they have stopped “Tranståget” (the trans train), but we know that many adolescents who suffer from gender dysphoria will continue to need treatment in order to feel good and be able to live their lives like everybody else. Young people’s gender identity isn’t a train that needs to be stopped. Everyone who needs care must be given access to care. We will keep fighting for everybody’s right to a referral, and for all assessment teams in the country to be given the resources to meet each individual’s need. It’s a matter of life and death.

The opinion article was published in Göteborgs-Posten, May 13 2020

Deidre Palacios, president of RFSL

Jêran Rostam, president of RFSL Ungdom