What's the story?
The British Fertility Society is calling for "'equity' across the NHS and allow 'transfolk' to freeze eggs, embryos or ovarian tissue." The NHS has been offering reassignment surgery since 1999, according to The Telegraph. Those who go through hormone therapy and gender-reassignment surgery lose the chance of having children, the report said.
Last year, the NHS performed 202 sex-change operations at the cost of about $12 million to British taxpayers. The cost of harvesting each egg is approximately $4,000 and about $400 annually to store them, The Telegraph reported.
“The number of people coming forward with gender dysphoria has increased rapidly over the past decade," said Dr. James Barrett, lead clinician at the Gender Identity Clinic at Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. “But the consistent provision of NHS funding for fertility preservation for this group has yet to catch up."
In Scotland and Wales, fertility preservation for transgenders is allowed, but it's only approved in some parts of England.
Barrett, who said his clinic sees about "half of the patients who are being referred for difficulties with gender identity," says many don't have the means to self-fund procedures and storage of eggs for later use.
“We are currently in the really peculiar position where I can have two patients one after the other in the clinic, one of whom was funded to have her sperm stored where the next one in would not be solely on the basis of where they lived,” Barrett told The Telegraph. “They could be on opposite sides of the same street. And that doesn’t feel very sensible.”
"Infertility is a real disease, and it is hugely frustrating that the whole NHS is not always able to help our patients with that part of their lives," Barrett said. “This is medical. It's people whose fertility is impaired as a result of actually NHS mandated treatment for a well-established condition that has been treated by the NHS for the last 50 years.”
What do critics say about it?
Critics believe the financially struggling National Health Service should focus its spending elsewhere.
“The cash-strapped NHS should be concentrating on offering good basic health care to women or helping them beat their cancer, and not get sidetracked with these kinds of novelties," Josephine Quintavalle, Comment on Reproductive Ethics, told The Telegraph. “Egg freezing is an invasive procedure and the outcomes are far from clear.”