Tuesday, 19 April 2011

From Farce to Fiasco: The Royal College of Psychiatrists conference debacle.

Newsflash: The Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic has just put out the following statement:

“The team at the WLMHT Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) at Charing Cross Hospital notes the apparent shift of emphasis in the Royal College of Psychiatrists Gay & Lesbian Special Interest Group conference, ‘Transgender: Time To Change’ on May 20th and feels compelled to withdraw on this basis.

When we were originally asked to take part, GIC clinicians understood that our role was to outline the work we do within our own service and explain the very considerable evidence base which underpins it. We are very happy to do this and our more than 55 years of experience as the country’s leading NHS provider gives us a rich and robust data set from which to draw observations.

It now appears that the conference comes at trans issues from a very specific agenda, namely, to explore the validity or otherwise of gender diagnoses as medical and psychiatric phenomena. So long as this is the case, we feel we can’t support it.

Although we were somewhat wary of engaging in what is essentially a clinical discussion with a predominantly non-trans panel, which, moreover, features a non-clinician whose personal opinion is already well known, we agreed to do so in order that discussion might focus on evidence rather than anecdote.

The Royal College should be aware that there is a great deal of disquiet around this event within the trans community and interested parties should note that the discussion as it now stands will be one-sided at best..”

The sudden withdrawal of the Charing Cross GIC from the Royal College of Psychiatrists conference following widespread anger amongst the transgender community and pressure from trans activists, represents a massive blow to the College’s credibility.

If they haven’t already decided to do so, then they should seriously consider cancelling this event, which has gone from farce to fiasco. The RCPsych’s arrogance and unwillingness to engage with trans people objecting to the basis of the conference is now pouring humiliation on the College’s senior management. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

It seems inconceivable that the conference can now go ahead and the RCPsych should bow to the inevitable. Their supercilious attitude to trans people’s wishes and feelings is coming back to haunt them. The contempt with which they treated all efforts to negotiate some sort of compromise has resulted only in increased anger and determination on the part of the transgender community. The Gay & Lesbian Special Interest Group was always an inappropriate forum at which to discuss trans issues, and the RCPsych should have seen that and should be asking questions about the way this group is constitutes and run. Now that their failure to act and to listen to trans people has blown up in their faces for the RCPsych the message is clear; welcome to the real world.

The Charing Cross GIC have obviously put a great deal of thought, both into their position on whether to attend the conference in the first place and subsequently whether to withdraw, and they should be congratulated for a sensible and courageous decision, and one which demonstrates that this is an organisation that truly considers the interests, and the feelings of its clients. It is time the RCPsych realised that trans people are people.


  1. This is great news and has made my day and will hopefully show that CX do care about the community and it's patients even if they do not always show it at times; but on this time I think they have. I have just sent a thank you for your support email to Charing Cross.

    Thanks again Natacha for being quick and on the ball as usual :)


  2. I couldn't agree more and have emailed the Clinic as well. This was a matter of principle and I am very impressed and encouraged by their decision.


  3. Well done our community. Keep the pressure up for the rest of this unrepresentative fiasco

  4. It's been cancelled "due to poor ticket sales".