Gender teams need to quit diagnosing trans* people

The press release of the Amsterdam gender team they sent out on Wednesday December 18, stating they cannot treat all the people who applied in recent times constitutes a brilliant opportunity to stop diagnosing trans people with gender dysphoria and start an informed consent based treatment process.

The day after the glorious victory of the passing of a strongly improved gender recognition law in the Netherlands, the Amsterdam Gender team that treats 85% of Dutch trans people who need a bodily and/or legal gender change, published a press realease saying they may stop accepting new patients within half a year.  Where there is an increase of 500% of applications in recent times, they do not get enough extra money to help them.

Of course this a bad development. When health care cannot be delivered people lose their right to health on certain points. On the other hand, with the attention because of the adoption of the new law, this is a form of blackmail. A way to hopefully get government and insurance companies around the table. Completely legitimate.

But as usual there is a back story to this. Dutch government designated the VUmc team as the Expert Centre on transgender Health in the Netherlands. And persistent rumours have it they use this position to create an oligopoly, having only the UMCG in Groningen that caters for the northern provinces, as their collegial competition. A small department at LUMC in Leyden treats trans* children.VUmcVUmc actively discourages surgeons or endocrinologists working elsewhere to treat trans* people. When psychologists elsewhere want to diagnose trans* people so they can have their bodily and legal changes, these are also discouraged.

I do no tell this to badmouth the work they do. This means to explain part of the origin of the problem. And probably from their point of view it is completely legitimate. So they need a good solution. Well, that is easy. Tell the psychologists to stop diagnosing their “patients”. That will save millions of euros.

Alternatively a better way of spending the money they got and the money they still need, lies in helping trans* people cope with the transphobia they experience. And with their internalised transphobia they develop from all the bad reactions. Psychologists are good at helping people get rid of many complaints and otherwise learn them cope with other issues. Transphobia (society’s reaction to people who do not fall within the accepted limits of male/female) causes depression and anxiety and more. Suicidal tendencies. That needs to be helped. But diagnosing trans people with gender dysphoria (DSM-5) or gender identity disorder (ICD-10) or gender incongruence (ICD-11, proposal) does not work. I imagine these psychologists would be far more proud of their work also, would feel more qualified ease these complaints than diagnose people with a non existing disorder. Additionally it will still be cheaper since not everybody needs this help.