We find ourselves in difficult times. Seemingly everywhere is beset by anti-trans backlash and it can be difficult to determine the best path forward in support of high quality transgender healthcare and rights. EPATH 2023, held from April 26-28, 2023 in Killarney Ireland, may hold some of the answers.
This may be a surprise to some, as we have previously approached PATH conferences with some trepidation and arose out of the desire to increase the ability of trans professionals to participate in these spaces.
We have long argued against harmful practices in transgender healthcare, including mandatory and unnecessary genital exams, sterilization requirements, and inordinate waiting times. These continue to occur far too often.
However, it is just as clear that the approach to transgender healthcare is shifting to be more accepting, affirmative, and holistic. What we are seeing is a backlash against this and the practitioners who provide it with no less a goal than the elimination of transgender healthcare entirely. Increasingly this backlash sees calls for the sacking and even execution of practitioners of transgender healthcare and has led services to close either due to or even in anticipation of legislation. This of course impacts the availability and quality of training and, as in the fight for abortion, many practitioners will opt not to practice for fear of these very real consequences. Scientific articles are also beginning to be published on this subject.
Increasingly cisgender clinicians and researchers are openly discussing the precariousness of their positions. Experts who have built a career in pursuing transgender medicine are being attacked for the crime of doing science and providing evidence-based healthcare. Those who cannot or do not want to leave the field are perhaps forced now to reckon with the question of how they will respond to bad-faith and unscientific criticism. There are no ‘safe’ countries or invulnerable places with regards to anti-trans rhetoric and unless we are willing to fight together we will certainly fall apart.
This realization may well form the groundwork for opportunities to build solidarity and collaborate with cisgender researchers and clinicians in a way that hasn’t been possible before now.
We want to take this opportunity to thank EPATH 2023, and in particular outgoing president Joz Motmans and conference organizer Aisa Burgwal for putting on an excellent event. Both went above and beyond to respond to our concerns, arrange a room for trans and intersex conference attendees, and respond carefully and appropriately to anti-trans provocations.