Amanda De Courcey has been in a three-year battle to understand why her daughter died of an overdose of chemsex drugs.
This week the NHS, yet again, has denied an emotional appeal for the late Synesta De Courcy’s medical records.
Her mom only wants them to get closure on her daughters tragic death.
She thinks opportunities were missed to save her vulnerable daughter’s life and tells Gay Star News this latest blow is ‘devastating.’
Responding to a personal plea from her parents, Amanda got a ‘nameless and faceless’ reply from the NHS, to say they could not see the records.
Before Synestra died, she had been struggling with gender dysphoria, and funding the self-medicating of her transition with ‘high-end prostitution.’
Two weeks after her death, she finally got the confirmation she could begin gender reassignment treatment on the NHS.
Initially, Synestra’s death was thought to be a suicide, but at a later inquest, it was ruled she died from a lethal mix of GHB and coke.
Her parents want the records to understand if NHS can learn from Synestra’s death.
They hope there would at least be a silver lining if learning from her death prevented the loss of just one other young vulnerable trans person.
A young Synestra | Photo: Facebook
Synestra’s story is the subject of the new book ‘Transition Denied,’ by journalist Jane Fae.
‘Like many young people, struggling to find their place in the world, Synestra was every parent’s nightmare. Bad and controversial, with outspoken views on sex, drugs, and gender. But also, the sweetest, cleverest person to cross the lives of those she met.’
Fae first became aware of the story in 2015, when she read about Synestra’s death in the local North Hertfordshire newspaper.
‘I learned, soon enough, that this was not suicide, but drugs gone wrong. The inquest ruled Synestra had sought treatment for her addiction to the chemsex drugs ‘G’and coke’.’
Chemsex is a trend that sees mostly gay and bi men, getting ‘high and horny’, or ‘party and play’.With the scene blurring with sex work, trans women like Synestra often get caught up in the use of drugs for sex too.
In the Gay Star News chemsex series last year, the Metropolitan police also say they are seeing more cases of straight, bisexual and pansexual groups doing it too.
Those who take part in chemsex do so to change the sex they are having. They use a so-called ‘holy trinity’ of drugs made up of a mixture of GHB, mephedrone and crystal meth. In some cases, people will ‘slam’ or inject these drugs.
Synestra De Courcy
Synestra was studying Natural Sciences at the University of London when she died from a lethal overdose of GHB and coke in 2015.
Speaking to Gay Star News after she died, her mother Amanda De Courcy says growing up she defined as a gay man.
At school, she was even celebrated as their ‘head boy.’
However aged 20 and starting her first year at university, she began to work out now was the right time to transition.
But her mother Amanda says whilst at university, she was denied access from local GPs:
‘And typical Synestra took on the challenge herself, to work it out herself.’
As part of this, she even began a YouTube channel creating vlogs and makeup tutorials.
But ultimately, as a poor university student, in order to pay for her self-medicated transition – she became a ‘high-end prostitute.’
Self-medicating and transitioning alone is not only be extremely expensive, but medically risky. Whilst taking hormones you need regular blood tests.
This, alongside party and play sex work, and a difficult long wait for help from the NHS with her gender dysphoria – would all become a decisive cocktail leading to Synestra’s death.
Particularly cruel, just two weeks after her death she would get accepted for gender dysphoria treatment at an NHS clinic.
‘She was turning her life around – but slipped into an old habit’
‘She’d been in a bad place, but she was turning her life around,’ author of Transition Denied, Jane Fae says.
‘Synestra was dating a guy she doted on and was clean of drugs, returning to university after a year out,’ Fae tells GSN.
‘She was discussing a business venture around her first love: make-up. And – though she did not know it – she had finally been accepted by Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic for treatment for gender dysphoria.
‘But during a night out that was otherwise a celebration, she slipped back one last time into old habits. After months of withdrawal, her tolerance for drugs was much reduced and her body could not take it.’
Fae, a long-term trans activist, was left angry by the story. In her new book she says, it is the story of every trans person too:
‘Because in various ways, Synestra encountered obstacles that will be familiar to every trans person in the UK.
‘While it would be too simple to draw a direct line between the current UK climate that mixes anti-trans sentiment and bureaucratic indifference to trans people, there is no doubt in my mind that both of these played their part.’
Denied access to medical records
Both Fae and Synestra’s mother now believe the NHS failed her. But they can’t be sure, because they are still being denied access to Synestra’s medical records.
It’s rooted in the legal loophole that her parents were never named her ‘personal representatives.’
In common law countries – which include the UK, Canada, US, and Australia – a legal personal representative is a person appointed by a court to administer the estate of another person.
In Synestra’s death, because her personal and financial affairs were not complex, no-one was named.
So three years on, Synestra’s parents are still wrestling with the NHS, to gain access to her medical records. Something that costs £50 each time they attempt:
‘Both me and my husband have applied and at a cost to us each time. We explained what happened and why we wanted the records.
‘Part of the reason we believe is that the NHS do not give transgender people the treatment or support that they need.’
Their latest blow came this week when they once again denied Synestras records by NHS England’s Primary Care Support England because they are not Synestra’s ‘named personal representatives.’
But no-one is.
‘She didn’t expect to die, it was an accident, so she made no plans in terms of a will. And as a student; she didn’t have any assets.’
Amanda tells GSN she is left ‘astonished’ at this weeks further set back.
‘We would like the opportunity to check certain points that we consider to be factual but may be incorrect. But we do know Synestra was declined access to our local GP until my husband John went there personally and insisted!’
Gay Star News reached out to NHS England for comment. They told us that health professionals have ‘discretion to disclose information to a deceased person’s relatives or others.’
But this is only when ‘there is a clear justification.’ And therefore, it is up to the individual health practitioners.
Synestra’s parents have already requested information from the GP, who referred them to the PCSE.
The PCSE letter also states that because NHS England only manages GP records the parents may wish to make individual claims with hospital, community, and mental health practitioners.
For now, Amanda is left frustrated, upset and at a loss of how to get the closure she desperately wants.
Transition Denied Confronting the Crisis in Trans Healthcare is out now.