The family of trans woman Alice Litman spoke out after the inquest into her death was adjourned for a fortnight this afternoon (Wednesday 20 September).
The 20-year-old, of Albion Hill, Brighton, died after falling from the cliffs at Roedean in May last year.
Alice, who was originally from Surrey, had said that there was “no end in sight” as she sought gender-affirming health care.
Assistant coroner Sarah Clarke is considering making a report to prevent future deaths and will announce her findings and conclusion in two weeks’ time.
As three days of hearings ended this afternoon, her family said: “We’ve got mixed feelings. We haven’t achieved everything we want to but we have been listened to by a sympathetic coroner.
“As a family, we’re very grateful to the coroner for taking Alice’s death so seriously.
“Important information has come out over the duration of the inquest that helps us see the reality of the situation which is often unappreciated.
“We’re absolutely delighted that the extent of the wait list has finally been acknowledged and unchallenged by the Gender Identity Clinic. Someone referred on their 18th birthday tomorrow would not be seen until their 40th birthday.”
The family also said: “We can’t bring Alice back. We want to do what we’re doing here for others.
“We are grateful that the coroner has agreed that the conditions of Alice’s death warrant a report to prevent future deaths. We look forward to reading her findings in two weeks’ time.
“The trans health care system is not fit for purpose. As the inquest heard, people seeking gender-affirming care today face a 20-year long wait for the care they want and need to live a happy life.
“This can’t continue – things will only get worse if they don’t change.
“Alice’s struggles are best summarised in her own words to her GP a month before she died: ‘I’ve been on the Gender Identity Clinic wait list for over two and a half years with no end in sight.
“‘I need an appointment. I am struggling. I am concerned that I have missed out on vital treatment. I often feel hopeless and helpless and feel life is not worth living.’
“Alice was beautiful and she made our lives better but we believe she was failed by those tasked with her care.
“Trans people should be able to access gender-affirming care when they need it. But as the inquest heard about Alice’s experience, trans people encounter barriers every step of the way.
“We all deserve to live in dignity with access to the health care we need. Accessing this care should not be a battle – it is a right.
“The inquest is not the end of our fight for Alice – it is the beginning. We will continue to fight for Alice and for all the young trans people who are still being denied the care they need.”
Bekah Sparrow, legal officer at the Good Law Project, said: “We are proud to support Alice’s family in their fight for justice for their beloved sister and daughter.
“Their campaign for the accessibility of trans health care to be recognised as a factor in Alice’s death is incredibly brave and of vital importance.
“The evidence we have heard over the past three days has highlighted clear failures in the way gender-affirming and mental health care is set up and delivered in this country.
“In recent years, Good Law Project has been working to challenge the extreme waiting times faced by transgender people seeking help from NHS England in a case that reached the Court of Appeal before it was unfortunately dismissed.
“During this time, we have worked with a number of individuals facing unfathomably long waits for vital health care services – and sadly, waiting times continue to get longer and longer.
“We firmly believe this cannot go on unchecked. Alice’s case has again pushed this issue into the spotlight and we hope this will act as a wake up call for policymakers to urgently improve access to gender-affirming health care in England.”
The inquest was held at Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court, sitting at the Sussex County Cricket Ground, in Eaton Road, Hove.