Gender reassignment surgery could be carried out in Scotland for the first time under plans unveiled by the Scottish Government.
Ministers have published a framework which will guide improvements to NHS gender identity services north of the border following mounting concern they are currently inadequate.
Among the plans being looked at is a proposal to move services more locally – including gender reassignment surgery, which is currently carried out only in England.
The framework also proposes setting up a National Gender Identity Healthcare Reference Group which will overhaul current services and direct £9 million of public funding.
It also calls for shortening waiting times for treatment – which can take up the three years – better support for trans people, the development of national standards and improvements to data collection.
Campaigners have long called for better NHS gender identity service
On gender reassignment surgery, the framework states: “Under the governance of NHS England, the Gender Dysphoria National Referral Support Service manages referrals for gender reassignment surgery from all UK nations.
“No NHS gender reassignment surgery currently takes place in Scotland. We recognise the importance of accessing treatments locally where appropriate, as well as building resilience in provision.
“We have therefore committed in this Framework to look at the potential for providing gender reassignment surgeries in Scotland.”
Public Health Minister Maree Todd said that current waiting times were “unacceptable”
She added: “I am determined that through working with people using these services, organisations representing trans people, clinical groups and NHS Boards we will transform these services and improve the lives of trans people living in Scotland.”
Scottish Government Minister and Scottish Green Party Co-Leader Lorna Slater added: “Lengthy waiting times for trans people has a serious impact on their mental health. Protecting their right to essential healthcare is a vital part of our commitment to advancing equality for LGBTI people.
“This framework will improve services for a community that is often marginalised. We must continue to include the voices and expertise of trans people, as well as clinicians, academics, NHS Boards and LGBTI organisations in the work to improve these services.”
Scottish Trans Alliance Manager Vic Valentine said: “We warmly welcome this strategic action framework, which alongside crisis funding also provides the foundations for making long lasting, significant change to gender identity healthcare that is so desperately needed.
“Trans people deserve to live happy, healthy lives, and to have access to the healthcare we need to make this possible.
“We look forward to contributing to work to transform these services, and in particular to the Scottish Government ensuring that trans people truly are at the heart of decisions made to do so – something that is absolutely crucial to making sure that this framework delivers on its aims.”