RCPsych: a comedy in several parts

What more to add? You’ve all seen the story unfold in instalments, week by gripping week. First the announcement of the Conference by the RCPsych (without, to begin with, any real voice of experience from the Trans community).

First contact

Then the slow and mostly behind the scenes exchange by myself and Natacha Kennedy with the PR bods over at the RCPsych. At no point were they particularly interested in real engagement. We never found out quite whose bright idea this conference was in the first place: nor did that person ever deign to talk with us.

We were assertive, but not horrid. We explained how the way the conference was set up and its content made the trans community highly nervous. How we were looking for engagement.

They didn’t engage, leading us to the first ironic conclusion of this whole affair: that a bunch of professionals who make a living out of “talking” cures seem remarkably allergic when it comes to being asked, themselves, to do some of the talking. Perhaps it is time that someone began to look more closely at the issues that some eminent psychiatrists appear to have around this act.

It would clearly be very naughty of me to hypothesise that some of them live in a fantasy world, in which they believe that their own interpretation of the world is uniquely qualified and beyond reproach – and talking to those outside the fantasy might have the awkward result of punctuiring their fantasy.

Very naughty indeed. So I won’t.


In vain Natacha and I tried to get the powers-that-be over at the RCPsych to deal with us. We pointed out we weren’t against the conference per se: only against the way it was being set up and the resulting bias on the speaker roster. We volunteered to help: we offered one or more of the Protest Group as speakers. And why not? Between us we boast a pretty impressive academic record of our own.

But no, no and thrice no.

Dialogue ended suddenly last week with an e-mail from the RCPsych’s head honcho that asserted, bizarrely, that they would be quite happy to hear Peter Sutcliffe address a conference on the subject of Sex Work.

Oh. Alright. That’s naughty, too. They didn’t actually assert that. They did, however, explain, in words eerily appropriate to the run-up to Easter, when we commemorate one of history’s most infamous acts of hand-washing, as committed by a certain Pontius Pilate: “Any opinions expressed by individual contributors at these meetings are the personal opinions of those contributors and cannot be taken to represent the views of the College.”

Which translates as: we’ll have anyone and we don’t care. I did ask if that was what they meant, but…yet more silence.

The end

And so to today’s swift denouement. First, in a gesture that will do oodles to make them flavour of month throughout the trans world, Charing Cross pulled out. Absolutely full marks to them (and espesh Stuart Lorimer) for taking a principled and measured stand on the issue.

Basically: the conference was to be a bunch of non-clinicians dabbling in areas they understood not AND it was causing enormous disquiet to the UK trans community. So Charing Cross decided they wouldn’t be going after all.

Finally, a mere month out from the date of the conference, claiming lack of bookings, the RCPsych threw in the towel. What a crock of nonsense! I’ve been involved in many conferences in the past and the lion’s share of bookings tend to come in in the last few weeks.

Moreover, they still appear to have learned nothing. Out here, created in response to the conference, is one of the best-oiled trans machines since I don’t know when. We’ve never, ever said we wouldn’t talk.

All the RCPsych needed to do was pick up the phone (a bit like “Deal or No Deal” – though thankfully, neither Natacha nor I ressemble the sainted Noel Edmonds in the slightest) and ask for our help and input. A slight re-adjustment. A re-alignment of speakers and.. . no guarantees whatsoever, but it strikes me this show could have been got back on the road.

Oh. I forget. They don’t believe in re-assignment: and on today’s evidence, they don’t actually believe in talking either.

Next episode

Still, its an ill wind… out of this will come an event of our own, to take place on or about 20 May. The RCPsych are cordially invited and, if they ask nicely, we might even be interested in hearing from one or more of their speakers.



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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2 Responses to RCPsych: a comedy in several parts

  1. Helen Wilson says:

    From my understanding this was set up by the RCPsych Lesbian and Gay special interest group. Did you get any communication from them?

    I would love to know how they justify this conference as legitimate area for debate given the opposition they have to so called gay reparative therapy. I also wonder if they would equally hold a conference that promotes reparative therapy for LGB people.

    I guess they will close all debate down now….until the next time!

  2. They cancelled the conference? That’s a victory for trans people, right? Does the trans community have allies within RCPsych? I’m reading this from far away and just getting up to speed. Thanks to you and Natascha for your work.

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