FOUR people are leading a campaign to get the Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust to pay for sex change operations.

More than 1,000 people have signed their petition calling on the trust to change its policy and allow gender reassignment surgery at NHS expense.

The PCT does not pay for the procedure — which costs between £10,000 and £50,000 — except in "exceptional circumstances".

But the four campaigners, who have all been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria — a condition which makes the sufferer feel they are trapped within a body of the wrong sex — argue each such case is exceptional.

Sally Outen, 24, from Jericho, in Oxford, who was born a man, but has lived as a woman for the past five years, is leading the campaign.

She started the petition when she was turned down for surgery by the PCT and has written a report called The Failure of Gender Dysphoria Treatment in Oxfordshire along with three other Oxfordshire campaigners, who have applied for sex change surgery on the NHS.

Ms Outen said: "The PCT's policy highlights a basic misunderstanding of Gender Dysphoria and its appropriate treatment."

"I have gained information from other PCTs in our region and it appears they treat gender dysphoria holistically, in a package consisting of assessment, psychological support, hormone therapy and core surgical procedures."

"In most cases, there’s no separate funding approval process for surgery – it seems to be granted as a matter of course."

"But in Oxfordshire, it seems they feel the condition can be treated without surgery."

We have learned that only one sex change operation has been paid for by the NHS in Oxfordshire since 2006, although 14 people who have been treated for Gender Dysphoria have applied for surgery.

However, other PCTs in the NHS South Central area — which includes Oxfordshire — have paid for 34 operations since 2006, including 22 in Hampshire, four in Milton Keynes, four in Portsmouth , one in Southampton and three in Berkshire East. Swindon PCT said it did not hold information on sex changes.

Oxfordshire PCT pays for initial diagnostic assessment, psychotherapy and hormone therapy for people with Gender Dysphoria, but it is due to review its policy in July.

A spokesman declined to give a specific example of what an "exceptional circumstance" might be but added:"There's limited evidence of the long-term effectiveness of surgical treatment to support funding.

"We often have to make difficult decisions around prioritising NHS funding for treatments. Oxfordshire PCT has a process for considering individual applications for treatments which are not normally funded.

"Each patient's case is considered on its own merits and in the light of all available clinical information.

"The PCT will always consider whether there's a basis for providing this treatment for an individual patient as an exception to the policy.

"Exceptionality is in comparison with other patients with that condition."

  • The petition, online at gdoxpct/ closes on April 7, when the full list of signatures will be given to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Clare Ingham, 63, from Banbury, above, was born a man but intends to pay for genital surgery to become a woman in May.

Ms Ingham, who used to be married and has children, has lived as a woman for the past five years but was refused NHS-funded treatment by Oxfordshire PCT.

The factory worker, who now has a new partner, said: "This means so much to me — I even dream about it."

"I’m looking forward to it so much."

"Things like going swimming or using the shower at my golf club will be possible again.

“The feeling has been with me from a very early age. I would wish I could put skirts or make up on like other girls.

"It was very upsetting for me when I was refused. I was just three months away from having the surgery when I got the letter saying the PCT would not fund it.

"Time isn't on my side, so I will pay for it myself, which should cost about £9,000."