So, why does it seem that the world of fertility treatment and conception appears to be lagging behind, as suggested below?
“Gender diverse individuals often report poor experiences in healthcare, including being misgendered, feeling judged and being asked unnecessary and intrusive questions. This can result in many people failing to seek or continue healthcare because of concerns over how they will be treated. There are a number of reports detailing poor clinical outcomes as a result of failure to properly understand and evaluate gender diverse people’s healthcare needs.”
From ‘Draft guideline on the care of trans and gender diverse people within obstetrics and gynaecology opens for consultation’ RCOG, 2022
What might be the cause of the perceived inequalities?
Factors may include any, or in some cases all of the following:
- lack of funding
- lack of research
- lack of knowledge
- lack of understanding
- lack of care
All of these factors are linked. As society is changing in its attitudes and perceptions, so changes are also taking place in the NHS and in private clinics. However, it takes time, money and resources for some of the changes to be implemented, which may account for the lag, particularly where research is involved and waiting lists.
Which areas could be immediately addressed?
As trans and gender diverse individuals often feel judged or misunderstood within the healthcare system, more training of healthcare professionals is needed, so that they are equipped with the knowledge and understanding required to provide appropriate care. It also states in the draft guideline that:
“This includes recommending healthcare professionals are sensitive in the language they use and the way they consult a trans and gender diverse person, for example using the correct pronouns when addressing someone and receiving any information about a person’s gender diversity neutrally and non-judgementally."
When it comes to IVF funding, why are single people and non-heterosexual couples treated differently to heterosexual couples?
In England, many single people, same sex couples, gender diverse and trans individuals are expected to self-fund several cycles of unsuccessful IUI, before being deemed infertile and qualifying for any funding. This is not the case for heterosexual couples, because they can establish their infertility by trying to conceive naturally, over a given time.
What new developments are and have been taking place?
On the plus side, research is continually happening, along with developments in medical science and new procedures. More up-to-date knowledge is also being discovered about aspects of fertility, like the effect of hormone treatment on a patient’s chances of conception. Other, more recent developments include the introduction of IVF with ICSI, which can benefit LGBT+ and heterosexual individuals. Research is also taking place to see if it may be medically possible for a trans woman to have a uterus transplant.
Here at theIVF Network, we provide a range of information, through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, to help you to make informed choices on your personal fertility journey.
You may also find the following organisations helpful, who provide information and support for the LGBT+ community, regarding fertility, pregnancy and family life:
Brilliant Beginnings - Surrogacy in the UK and abroad
SurrogacyUK – The UK's leading not-for-profit surrogacy organisation.
‘Information for trans and non-binary people seeking fertility treatment’ Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA)
‘Draft guideline on the care of trans and gender diverse people within obstetrics and gynaecology opens for consultation’ RCOG, 2022