The coroner investigating the tragic death of a trans woman, Alice Litman, has raised serious concerns about the state of transgender healthcare services in the UK. Alice, who hails from Brighton, tragically took her own life at the young age of 20 while waiting for gender-affirming healthcare, enduring an agonizing three-year wait. Coroner Sarah Clarke’s inquest in Hove has shed light on the dire state of these services, which she described as “underfunded and insufficiently resourced.”
Ms. Clarke stated her intention to write to various NHS bodies to recommend measures aimed at preventing such heartbreaking incidents in the future. She conveyed her desire to offer the Surrey Borders Partnership Mental Health Trust and the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic ample opportunity to respond before delivering her recommendations within the next two weeks.
In a candid assessment, she remarked, “It seems to me that all of these services are underfunded and insufficiently resourced for the level of need that the society we live in now presents.”
Alice Litman was initially referred to the NHS Gender Identity Development Service in 2019 but tragically passed away on May 22, 2022, while still awaiting her initial assessment. She had endured an excruciating 1,023-day wait for her first appointment with the Tavistock and Portman Gender Identity Clinic.
During the inquest, the head of the gender identity clinic acknowledged that the number of transgender individuals in the UK far exceeded the service’s capacity.
This heartbreaking case also revealed that Alice was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in 2019 following a suicide attempt. Later that year, she made another attempt on her life. In March 2020, after Alice had turned 18, she was discharged from mental health services altogether, highlighting a critical gap in her care.
Ms. Clarke signaled her intent to make further recommendations concerning the transition between child and adult mental health services, the care provided to transgender individuals by mental health trusts, the extensive waiting times for gender-affirming healthcare, and the level of support offered to those languishing on these lists.
While Alice Litman’s inquest will not be formally concluded until two weeks from now, it has already underscored the pressing need for improved funding and resources in transgender healthcare. The Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic expressed their condolences to Alice’s loved ones and refrained from commenting further until the inquest concludes.
This tragic case serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent reforms required to provide adequate support and healthcare services for transgender individuals in the UK.