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Family of woman who died awaiting gender-affirming care will ‘continue fight’

An inquest heard waiting for gender-affirming care contributed to a decline in Alice Litman’s mental health.

The family of a trans woman who died while waiting 1,023 days for gender-affirming care have said they will “continue to fight” for her and young trans people.

Alice Litman, 20, was described as “bold and brave” and “warm and kind” by her friends and family during an inquest into her death.

Ms Litman was found dead on May 26, 2022, at Undercliff Walk in Roedean, Brighton.

Giving a narrative conclusion on Friday, coroner Sarah Clarke said: “At the time of her death, Alice had been on the waiting list for Gender Identity Services for 1,023 days, which contributed to a decline in her mental health.”

Ms Litman’s family, who were supported by the Good Law Project during the inquest, said afterwards that she was left to “languish” on the waiting list.

Alice Litman's family
Alice Litman’s family, left to right, sister Kate Litman, father Peter Litman, mother Caroline Litman and brother Harvey Litman (PA)

Her mother, Caroline Litman, said: “We believe that if Alice was able to access gender-affirming care when she first went to her GP in 2018, she could still be with us today.”

Dr Litman added: “We can never bring Alice back but we will keep campaigning to ensure all trans people are able to live in dignity and receive the healthcare they need and deserve.

“The trans healthcare system is not fit for purpose.

“As the inquest heard, at the current rate that the Gender Identity Clinic is seeing new patients, someone referred today would have to wait 20 years before receiving their first appointment.”

The inquest conclusion comes after three days of hearings in September, when Ms Clarke said the inquest had shown how services involved in Ms Litman’s care are all  “underfunded and insufficiently resourced”.

In Ms Clarke’s summary of findings on Friday, she said Ms Litman’s comments of helplessness and hopelessness to her GP were for “good reason”.

Alice Litman Inquest
Alice Litman had been waiting to receive gender affirming healthcare for 1,023 days when she died (Family handout/PA)

Ms Clarke said: “She was doing her utmost to navigate her way through life, but constantly taking one step forward and two back in her pursuit of gender-affirming healthcare.”

The coroner will be raising a report to prevent future deaths which will be sent to health bodies including NHS England, the Royal College of General Practitioners, Surrey and Borders Partnership Trust and the Gender Identity Clinic.

Previously, the inquest heard that transgender people are being let down by “extraordinarily long” NHS waiting lists, which are causing a “travesty” of self-harm and suicide.

It heard Ms Litman, originally from Surrey, first told her sister she felt she was a woman in September 2018 and went to see a doctor about her gender identity later that year.

It also heard that in 2019 Ms Litman attempted to take her own life on two occasions.

During the inquest evidence was heard from The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which ran gender identity services Ms Litman was referred to, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which ran child and adolescent mental health services, WellBN, Ms Litman’s GP at the time of her death, and online transgender clinic GenderGP.

It also heard Ms Litman had been receiving hormone treatment privately at the time of her death.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and WellBN told the inquest there was no denial of lifesaving emergency treatment for Ms Litman but accepted there was a delay.

Speaking after the inquest conclusion, Ms Litman’s sister Kate Litman said the family want to campaign for GPs to be given the resources to provide potentially life-saving gender-affirming care.

She said: “We know it’s possible for trans people to live happy, full, glorious lives and we want to achieve these changes so that no trans people are denied that possibility.”

– Samaritans can be called on 116 123, or emailed at jo@samaritans.org

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