A coroner in Brighton has determined that the transition of a transgender woman from children’s to adult mental health services was severely lacking, leading to tragic consequences. Alice Litman, aged 20, took her own life while waiting for gender-affirming healthcare. The inquest revealed that Alice had been waiting for nearly three years for the necessary care, highlighting significant delays in gender affirmation healthcare and a lack of clarity for clinicians. Coroner Sarah Clarke intends to write a report addressing these issues in order to prevent future deaths.
Alice’s family expressed their hope that these reports would bring about urgent change. While they acknowledged that they cannot bring Alice back, they emphasized their commitment to advocating for trans individuals to receive the necessary healthcare and live with dignity. They criticized the current trans healthcare system as inadequate, stating that waiting years for essential care through inaccessible specialist services should not be the norm.
Alice was initially referred to the NHS Gender Identity Development Service in 2019 but tragically did not receive an initial assessment before her passing in May 2022. The coroner revealed that Alice had been waiting for 1,023 days for her first appointment with the Tavistock and Portman Gender Identity Clinic, which had a significant impact on her mental health. After a suicide attempt, she was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in 2019. However, upon turning 18 in March 2020, she was discharged from mental health services entirely. The coroner concluded that there was a lack of a transition plan from children’s to adult mental health services for Alice, and she never sought further assistance from community mental health services.
The coroner criticized the inadequate support provided to Alice during her transition from children’s to adult mental health services. She highlighted that shortly after turning 18, Alice was offered a “coping strategies” course, which did not offer the necessary support. This case underscores the underfunding and insufficient resources available for transgender individuals seeking mental health services, an issue that the coroner has previously raised.
Addressing the concerns raised by this case is of utmost importance. It is crucial to ensure that trans individuals receive appropriate and timely healthcare. Urgent changes must be made to the trans healthcare system to prevent further tragedies like that of Alice Litman.