Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

41.Submission from Captain Kristina Sheffield BA (Psych) SCR BCR

  Having read the Draft Gender Recognition Bill, evidence is hereby submitted challenging the following aspects and omissions from the Bill.

  A.  Diagnosis and Treatment—The Draft Bill fails to comply with accepted medical criteria for the determining of Transsexuals

  1.  Transsexualism is a medical condition, which has been defined, diagnosed and treated by medicine. It has been diagnosed and treated by those medicos who are specialist in that field and who follow the internationally accepted medical procedures as laid down and published by the Harry Benjamin Institute. Copies of which are available on the internet or from specialists in this field. ie Dr. D. Montgomery at the Gender Clinic Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith London.

  2.  Specialists in this country follow and abide by these procedures. It is a very complicated issue and these strict procedures are followed religiously as transsexualism is much more than just a person living in a particular role for a period of time. The Government/State, by its own admission does not have a definition of transsexualism. If they did, then a state of understanding this condition would exist and this Draft Bill would not have been raised in this particular form. A gross lack of the understanding of transsexualism exists here. This Draft Bill certainly encompasses transsexuals but it also encompasses non-transsexuals (transgenderists)—those who wish to live their lives looking like members of the opposite sex but without wanting to be members of the opposite sex. Transsexuals are convinced that they are members of the opposite sex and view their genitalia with abhorrence. There is a conviction that their bodies and genitalia must be changed—as defined—and live the rest of their lives as members of their reassigned sex. Non-transsexuals, however, are quite happy to change their physical appearance to that of the opposite sex through hormone treatment and/or cosmetic surgery etc, live the rest of their lives in that role but they wish to retain their existing genitalia. (not to be confused with transsexuals unable to have surgery for health reasons) Such people are not medically classified as transsexuals. Although they fill the criteria as laid down in this Draft Bill they are not transsexual so they cannot and must not be included or encompassed by this Bill. To do so, particularly in the case of the male to female (the man living as a woman), would confuse society as a whole, as has been shown in recent media releases, degrade women in all aspects of life, allow marriage between those with "like genitalia"—thus opening the door for homosexual marriages.

  3.  The Draft Bill falls drastically short of the Medical Criteria laid down for the treatment of Transsexuals and fails to comply with those criteria as defined by the Harry Benjamin Institute ie Section 1 (4)(b) would not be permitted by medicine as this is a minimum period and although a person may have lived in the role for two years or more they may still not have convinced their attending psychiatrists that they are transsexual.

  4.  Paragraph l(4)(d) refers—see section 2. The Evidence as referred to in section 2 (1 )(a) calls for medical reports from two registered medical practitioners, one of which may not be practising in the field of transsexualism. This fails to comply with the Harry Benjamin criteria which calls for the minimum of two years treatment, the transsexualism to be confirmed by the attending psychiatrist AND then endorsed by another psychiatrist, who specialises in the field of transsexualism, and only when both psychiatrists agree is the person confirmed as being transsexual and put forward for gender reassignment surgery. If they fail to agree, treatment continues or the individual is treated for a different condition. A psychologist's report is called for at section 2 (l)(b). Under the Harry Benjamin criteria, that psychologist must be under the supervision of a psychiatrist specialising in transsexualism. The psychologist is also required to refer an individual to a second psychiatrist as stated above.

  5.  It can be seen that section 2 subsection (1) fails to comply with the medical criteria and as such subsection (1) should be scrapped and rephrased in order to comply with the medical criteria as laid down. Only after medical confirmation in accordance with the Harry Benjamin Criteria, that a person is transsexual, and that they are awaiting or have undergone final surgery should a gender recognition certificate be issued.

  6.  Not enough effort or consultation with medical experts in this field has been carried out. It is necessary to refer to those experts who specialise in this field of medicine for a clear and precise definition and understanding of transsexualism—"this highly complicated and often misunderstood medical condition. It is crystal clear that the State's interpretation of transsexualism when compared to the medical criteria, as laid down by Harry Benjamin, is as far apart as "chalk and cheese"". No law can or should be passed when the basis upon which it relies is flawed in the extreme.

  B.  COMPENSATION—the Draft Bill does not provide for compensation that may be due. This is challenged as follows:

  1.  Having achieved a High School education and a substantial amount of GCE equivalent passes, having been educated in Canada, and also having learnt to fly there, I decided to embark on a career in aviation. Both my parents encouraged this. My father having been a Royal Air Force Officer and my mother a High School maths teacher taught me the importance of a good education in order to prepare for the future ahead and for that period of time after one retires.

  2.  Initially in the pursuit of my career, having obtained my licences to fly at the age of 17, 1 entered the world of professional aviation by teaching others how to fly. Later I was to enter the Royal Air Force as a Commissioned Officer and pilot where I remained until I left the Service following the big defence cuts. Having gained valuable experience in the flying of large aircraft and after obtaining further professional qualifications and licences I entered the highly professional world of aviation by becoming an airline pilot.

  3.  I had a good future; I had my own house, a nice car and reasonable prospects with a pension based on final salary. This was all to be lost when, in 1985, I was diagnosed with transsexualism and despite the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority found no reason to revoke my licence I was immediately dismissed from my employ which was to be the beginning of the end of my career. Dismissed, humiliated and all without the right of redress. No law existed to protect me. My life was to change. Medical treatment was sought and the person I had been disappeared forever. My way of life and quality of life was to change dramatically from this time on and although I was able to get some employment this was short lived and I was dismissed as soon as my transsexualism was disclosed. It couldn't be hidden. With the absence of protection/discrimination laws, the State's Employment records, Inland Revenue records etc—all available to employers and their staff—ensured that any or all employers would be party to confidential medical information that I was either undergoing or had undergone medical treatment for a change of gender. Time and time again this occurred. However, by deliberately not disclosing one's "legal" sex on a job application left one open to dismissal. Not just for being transsexual but also for lying on an application form. A "Catch 22" situation. In addition, companies could and did disclose this information to other companies thus preventing me from further employment. Eventually I lost my house, my possessions and unless I obtained employment I would also lose my "professional qualifications".

  4.  In fact, the State's policy of refusing transsexuals to use their adopted gender forced me to disclose confidential medical information to those not entitled to know my medical history including those not held liable by strict medical confidentiality rules and regulations. Whereby that information could and was passed to one and all, thus exposing me to ridicule and degradation.

  5.  In 1987, 1 became unemployable in the UK and I have not worked in this country since then, as State records will show. Even though I presented quite successfully as a reasonably attractive woman, I became an object of ridicule within the UK aviation industry and when I was invited to attend interviews I became the target of smutty jokes and I was continually humiliated and degraded; all without the right of redress.

  6.  In order to preserve my professional qualifications, I was forced into voluntary exile and seek employment outside the UK. I did so successfully in such places as USA, Australia, Europe, Africa etc and although these contracts were freelance and short lived, I never had to endure the degradation that was levelled against me by the UK airline industry or the State. Although these contracts were few and far between I was able to preserve my professional qualifications and self esteem; something I would have been unable to do had I stayed in the UK.

  7.  Life outside the UK was normal but on completion of those contracts it was necessary to return to the UK where all these horrors would raise their ugly heads again. Not from just within the airline industry but in all aspects of life because the State refused to protect my Human Rights.

  8.  On my return to the UK (having been forced to seek employment abroad), I would be questioned by the Employment Services as to my right to be in the UK. My right to register as being unemployed within the UK would also be questioned. Now, having been forced to seek employment outside the UK, because of an intolerant State, the State has reduced my entitlement to a UK State pension. Contributions could not be paid. Although one is still able to contribute whilst outside the UK, this was made impossible by the State's attitude towards transsexuals and against me in particular.

  9.  In the course of seeking medical treatment and surgical intervention many of the medicos to whom I attended for treatment under the NHS told me—quote "I am not prepared to spend good NHS funds on the likes of you." Charming, especially when those same medicos would have been quite happy to treat me if I went privately and paid them accordingly. As such I had to seek private medical treatment etc. (but elsewhere) whereby all funds available would be used for medical treatment leaving very little for everyday living expenses. I have never received any NHS funding for any surgical intervention etc other than the initial diagnosis of my transsexualism and my continuing medication. I am now frightened about discussing anything with NHS doctors because of the fear of rejection by them.

  10.  In 1996, following P v S and Cornwall County Council in the European Court of Justice, the State interpreted this ruling as protection for only those working within the public/government sector. Those employed within the private sector remained unprotected. It is unbelievable that the State would refuse to protect all transsexuals by misusing a court ruling in a manner that continued to isolate members of society and introduce a two-tier treatment for transsexuals within the UK. I do not believe that the Court intended its ruling to be used in such a discriminatory manner. The State clearly wished to exclude such people from receiving their basic human rights and continued to do so by introducing this two tier discrimination.

  11.  Had my human rights been protected I would have been able to remain in employment within the UK. enjoying a continuously improving quality of life and assured of a healthy pension at retirement. I would have received a final salary in excess of £78,000 per annum with a pension in excess of £33,000 per annum. A total of some £1 million to £1.5 million. In addition to the lost pension, there are lost earnings totalling some £1 million to £1.5 million at today's values.

  12.  Where am I today? Living off State benefits of £54 per week. Living in a "one up one down" because the State says that that is all I'm entitled to. I also receive Housing Benefit of £50 a week together with Council Tax benefit. Do you see what the State has taken away from me?

  13.  It MUST be appreciated that the State has never done anything voluntarily to alleviate the transsexuals' position within society. Courts of law have always imposed all changes introduced to date, and even then the State has only done the bare minimum or even less (see P v S above).

  14.  The State owes compensation to those who have suffered so harshly for hardship and loss of earnings. Compensation etc. is NOT included in the Draft Bill. The State has declared that "It has no plans to pay compensation." This should and must be reversed and then introduced into the Bill.

  15.  The State, by refusing to offer up any compensation, clearly shows no remorse for the lives it has devastated and/or destroyed. It only intends to do the bare minimum after having been found guilty by a court of law of human rights abuse. The State would be quite happy to see me spend the rest of my life in poverty.

26 August 2003

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