A ground-breaking new clinic which could stop trans people being forced to buy hormones from the internet has launched in Sutton.
The Sutton Trans Clinic which will run from James O’Riordan Medical Centre is thought to be the first of its kind in England.
The clinic launched on Thursday night (September 2) and is set to run every three weeks at the Stonecot Hill surgery.
Dr Lavan Baskaran was galvanised to create the clinic after he attended a picnic with the Sutton LGBTQ+ Forum and was shocked at what he heard.
He said: “The examples we were getting were of people being attacked for being trans and taking oestrogen tablets bought from [the internet]. It is wrong, people in this country should not have to resort to that in 2021.
“When I heard that people are still getting beaten up I was surprised. I have children who are three, four and five-years-old and I don’t want them to grow up in a world where this is happening – I don’t know whether one of them may grow up and say they are trans.”
(Image: Sutton LGBTQ+ Forum)
Trans people face huge waiting lists and Dr Baskaran hopes that the new clinic will cut waiting times from four years to one for people in Sutton.
The clinic will offer blood tests, health checks and mental health support.
Dr Baskaran says his team will also be able to teach people how to safely insert hormone blockers and keen an eye on those who have chosen to self medicate.
He added: “There are massive waiting lists and there are so many hoops to jump through.
“I have one patient who is going to Thailand to get surgery as he would have to wait three or four years here, he said to me ‘I’ll kill myself’.”
Young people are also able attend the clinic but Dr Baskaran says it will be taking a cautious approach.
He said: “We can support young people on their journey but say can we wait and see. Young people are welcome to come and let’s have a talk about it.”
Rachel Simpkins, Sutton LGBTQ+ Forum’s trans project lead, knows just how hard it can be for trans people to get help from their GPs.
She fought for a year and a half to be prescribed drugs she was entitled to and it took the NHS’ Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) stepping in for her GP to understand.
Rachel said: “To have this every three weeks is brilliant it shows trans people that somebody cares, we’ve been in isolation before Covid and Covid made things harder.
“I don’t like self medication personally but people don’t have any choice – at least here they can be tested to make sure they are safe.
“Through the forum I hear a lot about doctors not knowing, there was one I heard of that didn’t know to accept anybody who had changed their name.
“It is so brilliant that now anybody from Sutton can walk in and get help.”
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Physician associate at the surgery, Rachel Nowikow, thinks NHS care for trans people “really isn’t good enough” and hopes the new clinic will be a step in the right direction.
She said: “GPs are the gate keepers, if you are a trans patient your GP needs to be aware of what they can do.
“It may be a big thing coming to your doctor, they could be the first person you’ve told.”
The team is now applying for more funding with the aim of running the clinic every three weeks and open to anybody from Sutton.
Dr Baskaran says he has already been contacted by those outside of Sutton wanting to attend the clinic and hopes that the idea can spread to other parts of London and the country.