At least 77 trans doctors have registered change of gender with GMC

Concerns that medics are being allowed to self-identify at will without further checks Charlotte Gill 10 February 2024 • 8:02pm

At least 77 doctors have changed gender on the General Medical Council (GMC) register, The Telegraph can reveal.

The figure, supplied by the GMC to Labour’s gender-critical Baroness Hayter, is for records since 2003 and has raised concerns that patients could be treated by medics of the opposite sex without their knowledge or consent.

Just two of the 77 doctors have informed the GMC that they have obtained a UK Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), the document that provides legal recognition of the change.

It raises the possibility that doctors are being allowed to self-identify at will to change gender on the register without further checks.

An unknown number have gone through a “gender change recognition” process before coming to the UK.

A total of 14 doctors changed gender on the GMC register in 2022 and nine in 2023.

Writing to Baroness Hayter, Prof Dame Carrie MacEwen, the GMC’s chair, said that “the data on the published register may not reflect, in all cases, a doctor’s sex at birth”.

Baroness Hayter: ‘While welcoming the ability of any doctor to live in their chosen gender, this must not overwrite patients’ rights’
Baroness Hayter: ‘While welcoming the ability of any doctor to live in their chosen gender, this must not overwrite patients’ rights’

It means that patients cannot find out if their doctor is male or female from the register.

Dame Carrie told Baroness Hayter: “We believe that patients who want to see a doctor of a particular sex or gender are more likely to seek, and be able to obtain this information, from their local healthcare providers – not from our register.”

When Baroness Hayter pressed the importance of patients knowing their doctor’s sex, the GMC responded that the “the primary purpose” of the register was to show that doctors have “the appropriate training, skills and experience”.

The GMC also provided reassurance that patients could use a chaperone, but the policy means patients will not know in advance whether to ask for one, because their doctor’s biological sex is not shown.

The GMC said it had stopped asking for GRC from doctors in 2010 “because many found it difficult to secure one”.

It added: “The doctor’s entry on the medical register in their previous name, gender and GMC number will in most cases remain, unless there is a risk of disclosing their transgender status which has legal protection.”

Some critics argue the GMC’s policy on GRCs is at odds with its own guidance stating that doctors “must be satisfied that [they] have consent or other valid authority before examining or treating patients”.

‘Prioritises trans identities’

Maya Forstater, executive director of Sex Matters, which campaigns for clarity on sex in law and everyday life, said: “The General Medical Council’s handling of this issue is chilling and demonstrates that it prioritises trans identities over the safety and wellbeing of female patients.

“If a woman has been told that she will be examined by a female doctor, then it is a violation of her consent for her to find herself with a man posing as a woman. In a similar way to the issue with male police officers searching women, this policy disregards women’s human rights and put women at risk of state-sanctioned sexual assault.

“Social norms and the power dynamic between doctors and patients make it nearly impossible for female patients to object to being examined by a male doctor who may have attempted to appear like a woman, and this may be especially the case if there are age, cultural, language or cognitive factors involved.”

Speaking about the GMC’s policy, Baroness Hayter said: “While welcoming the ability of any doctor to live in their chosen gender, this must not overwrite patients’ rights. Any patient must be able to ask for a medic of their own biological sex and not be faced, without their consent, by a biological man. I am concerned that the GMC, by putting doctors’ interests above those of patients, is failing in its statutory duty.”

A GMC spokesperson said: “We recognise that some people will, for various reasons, want to see a doctor of the same sex, and the relevant healthcare provider – whether a GP practice, sexual health clinic, or other service – is best placed to handle such requests to ensure those patients’ needs are met. They will also be able to take other steps where appropriate, for example, by providing a chaperone.

“We have been processing gender-change applications since the early 2000s. Our current approach to enable registrants to change their gender on the medical register is compliant with the existing legislative framework.

“We have responded directly to the Baroness’s most recent letter on the points she has raised.”