December 6, 2021

UK’s equality watchdog insists on transgender fertility services

NHS caught between conflicting demands

The UK’s equality watchdog has demanded that the country’s National Health Service offer scarce fertility services to transitioning transgender people.

At the moment, 208 clinical commissioning groups around the UK decide whether to provide the “gamete extraction and storage” services to patients, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) claims that many will not provide these to transgender patients.

EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: “Our laws and our values protect those who seek treatment for gender dysphoria. This means that where appropriate, treatment should be made available in order to ensure that access to health services is free of discrimination.

“A choice between treatment for gender dysphoria and the chance to start a family is not a real choice. We have asked NHS England to reflect on the true breadth of their statutory mandate and the impact on the transgender community of these outdated policies.”

This places the NHS in an awkward position. On the one hand, the EHRC demands preferential treatment for transgenders; on the other hand, it is constantly being hammered for not offering enough fertility treatment for conventional couples.

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