AS lockdown continues, discussions continue too about the impact this pandemic is having on the already stark inequalities in Glasgow.

The vast gulf between rich and poor in our city is one such measure of inequality, and there are also other gaps between different groups. All of these measures of inequality tell us how much work there is to do to build a fairer city – and crucially, that we need to work on multiple fronts rather than waiting for a “good time” to focus on marginalised communities.

But that’s what keeps happening. When it comes to issues that most affect the groups of people furthest away from power, there can be a general acknowledgement from decision makers that things are bad, but it never gets to be a priority for action. That’s until a disaster strikes, when there’s hand-wringing for a few days – but then the issue is allowed to drift into the shadows again, with little difference made to the lives of the people most affected.

We can see this clearly in the total lack of attention paid to the appalling waiting times for transgender people in Scotland to speak to a doctor about their health needs. In Glasgow, that wait is now three years long just for an initial appointment, and then a further six to 18 months wait again for a follow-up. Across Scotland, Gender Identity Clinic waiting times are far worse than other NHS outpatient clinics. Why is this a scandal that nobody thinks is worth airing?

These waiting times are not just an inconvenience – there are very serious consequences for trans people. Forcing people down private healthcare routes puts an unsustainable financial burden on a group of people already further from the labour market and more at risk of poverty because of discrimination and stigma in the workplace.

More than that – the result of no NHS care is that people self-medicate, taking hormone treatment without medical supervision, and from sources that may be unsafe. This is obviously dangerous, but for many trans people it is much more dangerous for their mental health to spend years waiting for a doctor to take them seriously. As we see with so many barriers in healthcare, a lack of access to the NHS doesn’t stop anyone accessing treatment – it stops them accessing it safely.

Research from the NHS shows huge issues with the current service for trans people in Scotland. This has caused such a profound lack of trust that trans people are routinely hiding or not seeking treatment for mental health issues in fear of this being used as a reason to deny them access to a medical transition. Given the evidence that compared with the general population, trans people are far more likely to consider or attempt suicide, this is not an issue we can afford to keep ignoring.

Scottish Greens are calling on NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde to trial a new approach based on working with trans people as the experts in the care they need. There are already trials of a new way of working in London and Manchester, so now it’s time for Glasgow to take action. We have no more time to wait to ensure that all Scots can get access to the healthcare they need.