I hit the finish line.

I mean, I’m not finished, but I’m over the line. Today I had a nurse pull my boxers down and give me my first testosterone shot.

Which means in under a year, I transitioned.

In April 2015, I came out and socially transitioned. In November 2015, I had my top surgery. And in March 2016, I started HRT. And as HRT is a lifetime of injections…I am done.

In eleven months.

And yet…thousands of trans people in this country go years without being able to do it. Transitioning can take a decade or more — and that’s for ‘straightforward’ cases. If you’re non-binary, it may be longer. If you have other health issues, mental or physical, it may be longer. And as I’ve learned this last year, if you play by the NHS rules, it will be longer.

On a totally different note (maybe), the LGBT fiction community is up in arms at the minute. And it all boils down to erasure. Many LGBT people feel erased, marginalised and hurt in that community. Which is appalling and crazy and I’m one of them.

Because this is the consequence of erasure: waiting a decade to get help, and all the time, that help act like they’re doing you a favour. In fact, that’s very much a mirror image of the LGBT fiction community’s sad state at the moment. Ignore the LBT and any other orientation, for that matter, and when they complain, tell them they’re ungrateful.

In my battle to get hormone treatment, I was told I had to be seen on the first Friday of the month only, because that’s when the transgender clinic is. When I asked why I couldn’t have a Thursday like any other patient, nobody could answer me.

I was told I couldn’t be treated by my GP because of the guidelines. When I asked which guidelines, nobody could answer me.

I was told I couldn’t have surgery before hormone treatment. When I asked why, nobody could answer me.

And nobody can answer because…nobody’s actually got an answer. But because nobody has challenged this and forced them to change what they’re doing and how they’re thinking, we continue to wait and suffer and die in silence.

Yes, die.

I would have died if I had not been given my injection today. Because the other option would have been wait until mid-June, maybe even July. And I would not have made it. I would have killed myself, and I would have died because the system is constantly and systematically ignoring us.

If you like me, or my books, or heck, even the concept of a human being behind these posts, then for god’s sake stop pretending that sticking a rainbow flag on your profile picture and reading gay men getting it on makes you an ally. It doesn’t. And we need allies. We can’t change these systems, we can’t fight this oppression, completely on our own. We need to stand up and fight them, and you need to stand with us. You need to do something. You need to talk about these issues, you need to call out bigotry, you need to share stories, you need to donate to charities, you need to sign petitions. You need to act.

But if you call yourself an ally and all you ever did was read gay men screwing, then you’re no ally of mine.

 

 

 

(But I am a man now! Woohoo!)

So today I won.

After battling the enforced one-day-per-month for transgender patients, the refusal to give me any appointment outside that one day, the ignoring of my referral, the (all new, as of this morning) refusal of my GP to prescribe interim treatment even when I was sitting in her office in tears and outright telling her I would end up committing suicide before the June appointment, a corporate response from the hospital that this is all caused by the fact transgender patients prefer the special clinics, and a complete lack of communication by the department…

AFTER ALL THAT.

I won.

On Tuesday, the department called me to offer me a cancellation for Friday (today). Now this got me suspicious. It’s the second Friday this month. The Super Special Trans Day is on the first Friday. What’s going on? Could I possibly have drummed a point into somebody’s skull somewhere along the line? Lord forbid!

I took it (and being British, I am thoroughly disturbed by how frostily cold my voice was on the phone to that receptionist, given it is my cultural, nay civic!, duty to be sunny and unfailingly polite on the phone) but I didn’t cancel my GP’s appointment for the same morning, because I didn’t trust the consultant to actually do anything.

Well the GP did nothing (apart from sit there, watching me sobbing, and repeat ‘it’s against the guidelines’ over and over like a broken and inaccurate record) but the consultant, o miracle of miracles, actually did.

His job, that is.

He actually did his fucking job.

That is all I have been asking for. All I have wanted, from the very beginning, is to be treated like a normal person. And today, I turned up at the hospital, and was told to go to the diabetes clinic. In there was an elderly couple who, from their conversation, were there for reasons to do with the husband’s diabetes. The consultant came to get me. We talked about what treatment type would fit best with my lifestyle, whether my family history had any scary things that would put up red flags for an endocrinologist prescribing large doses of testosterone, and how my treatment would be managed. He was even disturbed by the GP’s response that morning, and said they had had an odd reply from a GP in the same area and it had been flagged as a contrary to the WPATH guidelines. He would check if it were mine, he said, and if so, reply to them in no uncertain terms that they would be overseeing my long-term care and as he had given them the exact doses to prescribe in the first place, they were breaching the guidelines by refusing me. In the meantime, he is going to talk to colleagues at the hospital in my town to see if they will accept me wandering in every 12 weeks to have a nurse stick a big needle in my arse, and I am going to ask my occupational health department at work the same question. Then he called the hospital pharmacy, right in front of me, to ask whether we had any of the drug I’d chosen in stock.

Well, no.

But it will arrive next week. And then I can go back and have a nurse stick the first big needle in my arse. We have 12 weeks to work out who’s administering the next dose, and voila! My life. Back on track.

In one bloody half-hour appointment, where he finally treated me like a normal patient instead of trying to shunt me off to a special day several months of psychological torture away.

And the irony?

When I got home, there was a letter from the clinic director for endocrinology acknowledging receipt and investigation of my complaint. And it began with the words, We take incidents of discrimination very seriously…

No shit. Because it worked. The disciplinary axe hasn’t even fallen, but I have created enough furore to get my appointment moved to an acceptable time, and my treatment started within 18 weeks of referral, as is my right as an NHS patient.

The Brit in me cringes at the amount of screaming, shouting and complaining I have had to do. I hate doing it. I would much rather stick my head in the sand and ignore the whole thing (as I have very successfully done regarding my meter readings, my uncancelled gym membership, and the shoddy customer service at Boots Chemist), but I couldn’t.

And it worked.

So next week, I will not be jumping in front of a train, or slitting my wrists, or taking an overdose.

I will be going cycling. And signing up to a new gym. And shopping for a house.

Because I won.

So let’s talk about something that allies and writers tend not to notice very much.

Endearments are very often gendered, but…pretty subtly. So what even a stranger calls you in a friendly, informal setting can often reveal what gender they think you are.

I don’t know about America too well, but in Britain, loads of random endearments are gendered, but not necessarily all the same way. ‘Love’ is typically something everyone calls women, but can also be something older women call men. ‘Mate’ and ‘pal’ typically refer to men, and is used that way by both sexes, but ‘pet’ changes from bloody estate to estate in Newcastle, and ‘duck’ seems to refer to anyone on the planet whose name I may or may not know.

Very often, you’re reliant on knowing the area to know whether or not someone just effectively called you a man or a woman.

But sometimes, they give themselves away.

I’ve just returned from a long weekend visiting friends in Gloucestershire. On Sunday, my lovely host and I went for a roast dinner at a Toby Carvery. For those of you who don’t know, this is a chain carvery where you basically go and get your meat carved by a bloke in a hat, then wander off to the buffet table to pile the rest of the food on, then eat yourself to death at your table.

When I got to the counter, having not been speaking to my friend loudly enough for the chef to hear, he said, “What’ll it be, pallove?”

That was how fast he changed his mind. Pallove. He started to say ‘pal’, a term in that area only really applied to men, then twigged I might not actually be a man halfway through and tried to change it to ‘love’, a term that when it’s used by men is almost always going to be referring to a woman.

The result was pallove.

My friend started smirking. I struggled to keep a straight face, and just asked for the turkey. When we got back to our table with our soon-to-be-food-comas, we both started sniggering.

But just look at how gendering crept into even having dinner. I was gendered by the chef serving me food. We went shopping the next day, and a sales assistant asked if he could help ‘you ladies.’ In the next shop, I got ‘palled’ again and nobody seemed puzzled by us wandering into the menswear section; in the one after that, I got a distinctly funny look for looking through the men’s swimming trunks on the sales rack.

I would say that someone effectively remarks on my gender, via casual endearments, every time I leave my house. I get ‘mate’ a lot in my town. One of my colleagues has a tendency to ask me to ‘be a gent and make us a cuppa.’ I got ‘pallove’ at dinner, and ‘what can I get you ladies’ at the bar.

Does it bother me? No, not really. My dysphoria is well over 90% physical, rather than social. Does it bother others? Yeah, sometimes. An agender friend can get very upset if we both get ‘how can I help you, sirs?’ in a public place. I heard of a trans guy recently who blew his lid when a waitress called him ‘miss.’ Hell, when I’m grumpy or low, even I pull a face at the confused, ‘Um, and…what’s your date of birth?’ when I’m ringing my doctor’s surgery to try and get an appointment, because the idea of a female voice belonging to a patient recorded as Mr. blows the receptionist’s mind.

But whether or not it bothers us, it’s something to bear in mind when writing transgender characters.

Because whether they mind or not, there’s just about no way they haven’t noticed.

#hormonewar 2.0

Posted: February 29, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

So today I got a reply from the consultant’s office. So much for the call back.

Firstly, completely skated over the reason I am angry — that I have been separated from all the ‘normal’ patients and can only be seen one day a month because I’m transgender. Nope, that’s still all totally acceptable in their eyes. We’ll just ignore that part,  shall we?

Secondly, I will be ‘kept in mind’ if there’s cancellations. Yeah, okay, sure. Given your staff couldn’t be bothered to ring me back after typing up this letter (and it’s a paragraph long, by the way), I very much doubt you will do anything of the sort.

Thirdly, and this is the bit that really hacks me off…

“One possible solution would be if your GP were prepared to start you on testosterone treatment in advance of you attending clinic on the basis that I will be seeing you shortly and can discuss ongoing hormone treatment with you at that point in time.”

Er.

What.

Right, so…my next GP appointment is in March. I will not see this consultant until June. So potentially, I could be on T for three months before I even see the so-called specialist whose so-called expertise is supposedly ‘required’ to get hormone treatment IN THE FIRST PLACE.

And given I first approached the gender services about how to get testosterone in DECEMBER, had that been said then instead of referring me to him just to be referred right back to my GP, I could be celebrating three months on T now.

So let’s just summarise that, folks.

The doctor who has quite probably never met a trans patient in his life (the GP) has treated me with the respect.

The doctor whose expertise is in trans patients has treated me like dirt, delayed my treatment for months unnecessarily and based entirely on my status and not on my patient needs, is passing my care knowing back to a doctor with no expertise in this area of medicine whatsoever, and is still refusing to see me within the timeframe set out by the NHS.

This is not fucking over.

#hormonewar

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

So right now my transition priority is starting HRT: hormone replacement therapy.

 

For a transman, that basically means taking testosterone for the rest of my life. As male hormones do their thing more-or-less irrespective of whether or not you have a bunch of female hormones floating around, the testosterone will slowly stop the production of female hormones, and take over. Then I go through puberty again, with the random hair, voice breaking, and acne. Not fun, but once it all settles down, boom. Hello, passing, no more periods, and finally being able to get on with my life.

 

Now, as I have ranted and raved before, gender identity clinics are the slowest motherfuckers on the planet. They get zero fundings, have zero staff, and thousands upon thousands of people churning through a ridiculously slow and backward-ass system. The people in the clinics are generally trying to help you, although asshats still exist, but they’re crippled by their own system.

 

Way back at the end of December, I called my local clinic. The pathway on the NHS is very much real life experience to hormones to surgery to more surgery to discharge, takes up to ten years to complete, is extremely rigid, and the waiting list to even begin was three and a half years. I rang them to explain I’ve been diagnosed, so I don’t need that, I’ve had all the surgery I plan on having, so I don’t need that. I literally need hormones. And once prescribing my hormones has been safely passed back to my GP, I will wave goodbye to gender clinics forever.

 

Simple, right?

 

At first, yes. The clinic sent me a letter to explain to my GP what to do, as GPs frankly haven’t got the first clue. My GP read it, said, “Right, I’ll do that then,” and sent it to the endocrinology department that the clinic recommended, and–

 

Stop.

 

Four weeks later of hearing nothing, I rang the hospital. “Oh!” said the receptionist. “I can’t find you on our system!” You’re fucking kidding me. Actually no, several rustling noises later, she unearths my referral and says, “Oh I see, it’s from the gender clinic.” No it isn’t, it’s from my GP. “You’ll have to go the monthly clinic, the next available appointment is in June.”

 

June. Six months after the referral was sent. Well over the 18 week target to start treatment. I’m not even going to see the consultant until the 19th week, and given that apparently he can only see transgender patients once a month at a special clinic (instead of, I don’t know, seeing us and treating us like regular patients), it’ll be July or August before I get my first hormone shot.

 

In this exchange, mostly done through gritted teeth, I learned the following:

  • It’s okay to separate transgender referrals from cisgender referrals and stuff all the transgender patients into once-a-month clinics, as opposed to letting them have regular appointments like everybody else.
  • It’s okay to breach your rights as a patient — 18 weeks doesn’t matter, because your other option (going through the GIC) is worse.
  • It’s fine for staff to not actually read your referral and have no idea where it’s coming from, because hey, you’re only a transgender person, it’s not like you have a real thing needing real treatment.

 

Unfortunately for the staff at this particular endocrinology department, I managed to go from referring myself to a psychiatrist to having surgery in six months, something that usually takes year. I am not going down that easily.

So I had a rant a couple of weeks ago, but looks like it’s time for Mark II.

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve had an exchange with another author on why there aren’t more transmen in m/m fiction. (I will not be identifying this author, as I don’t believe in any of that name-and-shame shit that stalks the LGBT fiction genre like a seriously bad smell.) Anyway, I shared a picture of some trans people who are passing like fuck, y’all, and said this was another reason why that absence of transmen in m/m fiction is confusing to me.

Because not being funny, a lot of m/m fiction is about two hot guys, probably both alpha male types, getting together with [insert plot]. And that in itself is a whole different discussion, but my point is, if there are transmen who look 100% male and alpha type-y then…why aren’t they featuring too?

The response?

“Because it’s harder.”

Seriously, that was it. It’s harder.

Well, why? Literally the only thing I said was trans character, so…what, trans characters are de facto harder to write than gay ones?

Yeah, that’s about the point at which I blew my lid.

You know why they’re supposedly harder? You know why they’re so scary and so intimidating? Because you’re not looking past the word ‘trans’ to the word ‘person’ or ‘man’ or ‘woman’ that follows. Can you write women? Then you can write trans women. Can you write men? Then you can write trans men.

This author continued to explain that, obviously, this is because trans people are new. They confessed to waiting decades to publish about gay men in case they got it wrong, and as trans people and the trans community are new, authors need to be made more comfortable.

(I’m not even going to address the stupidity of demanding that the minority make the majority feel ‘comfortable enough’ to accept them.)

Even without addressing that, it’s still ridiculous.

Movements and groups progress and gain visiblity largely through the media. And what does it say about us as a genre when bloody EastEnders is showing trans characters — played by trans actors, no less! — and we’re still trotting out this pathetic ‘ahhhh, they’re haaaaaaaard!’ every time the issue is raised.

Transgender people have been around for as long as human beings have been. They were at the 1969 Stonewall Riots. In 1979, the WPATH Standards of Care for transgender patients were first set up. Are they more visible now than ever? Yes…largely due to the media. Writers should be ahead of the game on this one, and to wail that trans people are new and scary is just another example of prejudice and ignorance, especially now in the face of their increasing visibility.

This author said they had waited decades to publish about gay men, for fear of getting it wrong. Can I assume, then, an explosion in trans literature in 2056, also decades after it was so desperately needed? It is needed now. The explosion should be now. But too many writers are still trotting out the excuse that it’s somehow hard. They don’t know enough about trans people to write them!

And why are so many writers ignorant?

Because they choose to be. All of that information is out there. I could delete this whole blog right now and I wouldn’t have added anything to the information already in existence, already accessible. Writers somehow are fine with intensive research on places they’ve never been, jobs they’ve never worked, languages they don’t speak…but to write a trans man trying to decide between the cute guy next door and the hot but dangerous boss, that’s far too difficult and requires far too much research. Obviously.

Well, not to be sarcastic, but how the fresh hell do you suppose trans people find out about how to get treatment, about all the tricky little issues you’re too scared to address? We’re not born with an inherent knowledge of binders, packers, and the order in which treatments should be taken.

Google.

Stop hiding behind this excuse that it’s too hard. Writing about a specific trans issue is hard. Writing about trans people is not. You know why? We’re human. If you can write about other humans, you can write about us. So either stop making your excuses, or at least have the common decency to recognise them for what they are: excuses.

So my aunt is Catholic. Not the nice moderate type of Catholic who is all love thy neighbour, oh no no. The crazy type who is all “UNMARRIED MOTHERS WILL BRING THE END OF HUMAN CIVILISATION.”

(No, seriously, she’s said that.)

Anywho, I went visiting for the first time in years this weekend. This is because I told my family my new name back in the spring of 2015. She’s had nearly a year to get used to it, but still persists in sending me things with my old name on them, cards and the like. So I thought, right, time to sort this out.

Her grandkids came to visit while I was there.

The two in question are four and six. Last time I saw them, they were two and, well, nothing. A blob with a tuft of hair, really. And that’s the two-year-old. In short, they haven’t the first clue who I am — a point made rather obvious by my aunt saying to the four-year-old when they walked in and clocked me, “Oh, that’s Aunty Anna.”*

(Note: everyone in my family remotely older than you is aunty or uncle so-and-so, simply because it’s so freaking big.)

This. Was. Torture.

For four hours, these kids decided they liked me (god knows why) and wanted me to play with them. Constant ‘Aunty Anna, look at this!’ and ‘noooo, Jamie, Aunty Anna’s playing with me!’ and all sorts. It was like having my ears shredded. Twice, given that I don’t like children in the first place.

Obviously I am not saying this is remotely their fault. But my aunt?

These kids do not know me. My aunt could have said I was a traveller from the Romanian circus and they would have believed her. She could have said I was a new lodger here to soak up the glory of Gateshead, and they would have believed her. She could have, shock-fucking-horror, used my actual goddamn name.

I honestly would not even have minded had she said, “Oh, that’s Aunty Ali.” My name is unisex. It can be applied to a boy or a girl. I would genuinely not have minded, given these kids were four and six and not the brightest four and six year olds either, still being labelled as female. I still sound female. I still generally look female. They would probably have perceived me as female with or without ‘aunty.’

But no. Aunty Anna. After nearly a year.

Combine this with my aunt constantly slagging off my father (her brother) for being obstinate and stubborn. “He’ll never change,” is her refrain.

AND YET.

And yet my father, who is 69 years old and denounces most modern footballers as being nancy boys, has come to terms with my transition. He takes the view that I am his child, and he will support my decisions. We still talk. We still have a positive relationship. I am taking him on holiday for his 70th birthday this year. Does he use my new name? Well, no, not often — but if he sends me post, it’s to my new name. My Christmas cheque was written out to my new name. He has seen and not commented on parcels from my publisher to Mr. New Name. Is he perfect? Dear lord no. Would he understand if I said, “Look, come on, you still calling me Anna down the pub to your mates is hurtful sometimes.” Hell no. Is he, however, accepting of who I am?

Yes, actually.

But my aunt? Apparently not.

Well, needless to say, I wasn’t happy. So I took her aside before I left and asked her to please use my new name. The response?

“Oh, that.” *scowl* “Yes.” *scowl* “Now, do you need any petrol for the drive home?”

I tried to explain it’s hurtful.

“It’s hard,” she said. “You’re in the middle of transition. Enough of that.”

No, not enough of that! I’m not in the middle of changing my name!

“No, enough of this, now tell us when you get home safe–”

I slammed the car door and drove off. I actually had to pull over a mile down the road because I hadn’t waited long enough to put my sat nav up.

When I got home (having mentally sworn at her the whole way), I wrote a letter. Two sides of A5, telling her how rude and disrespectful she’d been to me and my family, and that as she clearly neither loves nor respects me, I won’t be visiting again. I ended it by telling her not to contact me. I’ll be posting it in the morning.

And yet.

Out of all of it, I learned something positive about myself.

I’m angry.

I’m bloody fuming! I’m furious with her and her hypocrisy, her constant bleating about the importance of family and bemoaning that we (my siblings and parents and I) are too far away and never get in touch, and yet having the disgusting hypocrisy to disrespect a simple request to use the correct damn name.

But I’m not upset.

I don’t feel I’ve lost something. I don’t feel I’ll miss out by cutting her off as I’m going to. I simply feel angry with her, and all of it is based in I am worth more than that. I deserve to have my name respected, and if you loved me, you would. As you won’t, you obviously don’t love me, so why the fuck should I keep you in my life?

This, I think, is a big positive step for me.

So onwards and upwards: shedding the transphobic load and filling up my life with people who like for who I am, not for who they want me to remain.

 

 

*NB: my birth name was not Anna, but this flowed better with a name shoved in there.

Not once have I said, “I’d like to see more books about trans issues.”

What I have said, frequently, is, “I’d like to see more trans characters.”

Do you get the difference?

Do you really?

If I had a pound for every time I said ‘I’d like to see more trans characters’ and was told by various authors and would-be authors, “Oh, me too, but I couldn’t do it, I don’t know enough about trans people,” then I’d be sailing around the Seychelles in my yacht right about now.

And if that’s you, that’s said that, then guess what. You’re prejudiced.

No, seriously, you are. You’re either prejudiced, or you need to open your ears more. Pick whichever one offends you the least. Or most, I don’t really care right now.

If I asked someone, “Why don’t you write more black characters in your books?” and they responded with, “I don’t know enough about black people,” guess what my conclusion would be. That this person thinks that black people are somehow fundamentally different from them. That somehow being black overrides everything else that makes up a human being, and you must have in-depth knowledge of that magical thing before you can write a character with that trait.

Piss. Off.

There is a difference between being trans, and trans people.

Let’s take the black example again. Being black is a thing that has specific concerns in, say, 1880s Arkansas, or parts of Chicago, or all of South Africa. There are specific issues that apply to black people in certain scenarios that do not apply to white people. That is about being black. But there is no goddamn possible difference, unless you put it there, for your space adventure story around Saturn’s rings in 4452. No fucker cares. In that example, you are just a bigot if you claim you can’t put a black character in your space adventure because you ‘don’t know enough about black people.’ You don’t know shit about white people in 4452 either, so what?

Trans characters are exactly the same. What you need to know depends purely and simply on what you are wanting to talk about. And unless you are talking about the things that only affect trans people, then you already know more than enough to write a trans character.

If you want to write a book about Abby becoming Stephen, then you need to know a lot about being trans.

If you want to write a book about a hotshot lawyer trying to get a scumbag sent down for murder who’s using the trans panic defense, you need to know a lot about being trans.

If you want to write a book about Jamie’s hot as fuck boss and how totally wrong but totally right it is to be shagging your executive director after hours, you do not need to know the first goddamn thing about being trans.

If you could replace the trans character with a cis one and it wouldn’t change the plot, then you don’t need to know jack!

Because guess what, there is a ridiculous amount more to any trans person ever than their gender identity!

I am trans. But if you put me in a book, you’d need to know a lot more about my swearing, my upbringing, my politics, my day job, my messiness, my total inability to recognise people on the street if I have my headphones on, my habit of waving my hands around and talking a mile a minute when I’m excited or nervous — what the fuck does any of that have to do with my being trans?

I’m working on a new adult novel at the moment, called Mad. One of the male characters decided to inform me he was trans in the middle of a fucking sex scene. Right. So I just put a bit in the next morning of him telling his best friend that the cute guy he pulled at the club wasn’t bothered by his lack of meat and two veg. That’s it. That’s all. Done. He is a trans character, and that is quite probably going to be the only explicit reference. Because it’s more goddamn important that he’s a flirty, sex-mad, vain and slightly shallow guy who actually figures out love doesn’t conform to what he wants all of the freaking time. That’s who he is. That’s what the character needs to be. Turns out he’s trans too, big fucking deal, I don’t need a PhD in queer studies to write him, any more than any woman writing gay romance (which is most of you!) needs to know what a dick up her arse feels like to write anal. You have a brain, you have an imagination, use them.

The minute you say, “Oh, I don’t know enough about trans people,” all you are doing is saying, “Trans people are fundamentally different to me.”

No. We’re not. Transitioning is fundamentally different to anything you as a cis person will ever go through. But trans people? Apart from puberty sucks (which is not a special trans area), dating’s hard (ditto) and transitioning itself (if we choose to do it), we are just like you.

Time some people got their heads out of their arses and realised that.

 

 

 

 

(I wrote this while I was in a trans chatroom. One of the remarks that went scrolling by as I vented was this: “You know what’s so great about living in a modern world? Having fresh canteloupe in January.” See? We’re normal people too.)

So it’s not Sunday, and normal service will resume next week.

However, it is now 2016!

I actually made goals for 2016, something I haven’t done in a long time. And one of them was to start hormone treatment. Only that’s going to be way harder than writing it on a piece of paper and going ‘hey, I can totally do that.’

The thing is, hormone treatment is usually the third step, after diagnosis and social transition. But for me, it’s the last step. I have no plans at the moment to have bottom surgery, and I’ve already been diagnosed, socially transitioned, and had top surgery.

Unfortunately, NHS services really do presume that anyone accessing a gender clinic hasn’t made any steps whatsoever, so the information that’s out there is useless when it comes to how flexible they’re prepared to be. The Laurels in Exeter had all the flexibility of a plank. I hadn’t heard awesome things about Leeds either. And Nottingham was to be avoided at all costs.

I live near Leeds now, so I sent them an email detailing the situation. Imagine my surprise when I was called back the same day by the Leeds Mental Health Team! (Seriously, for the non-Brits here, NHS efficiency is an oxymoron.) Well, the first lovely fact of that phonecall:

It will currently take you three and a half years to get your first appointment at the gender clinic after being referred.

Seriously, three and a half years.

On top of that, by the way, it takes four months to be diagnosed, up to two years of social transition before an eighteen month hormone treatment plan and, two years later, surgery. That’s just under TEN YEARS to transition on the NHS right now, from that very first referral made by your GP.

Oh, and if you want help in that time? Call a hotline, NHS has no resources for you.

Ten fucking years.

Thankfully, the clinic lady was actually helpful to me. She outright admitted that going through the clinic wouldn’t be ideal for me, and offered to write a letter to my GP telling him to refer me directly to either a local endocrinologist, or one in Harrogate who has worked with their patients before. Cut out the clinic entirely, and crack on with the hormone treatment separately from the gender services.

And the waiting list for an endocrinologist right now? About two months.

Three and a half years versus two months, I know what I’m going to try.

So seriously, if you’re a trans person needing something a bit different from the gender services, call them! They will try and help you get around the problem. And if they don’t? Complain the fuck out of it. It’s only by complaining we’re going to change the system, because three and a half years to wait for treatment is longer than people waiting for a cosmetic boob job on the NHS. It’s absurd.

 

 

(happy new year!!)

Merry Christmas!

Posted: December 25, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Tis the season and all that.

Now for once, trans issues and gay issues can come very close to being the same at Christmas. Those of us lucky enough to have supportive families can have the same Christmas as our straight and cis counterparts, though often Nan’s dementia can make things a bit funnier if we have a sense of humour about ourselves.

But many trans people aren’t that lucky.

Like gay people, closeted trans people at Christmas may have to silently seethe while various family friends and relatives make completely wrong assumptions about them, offer advice to get their life going in the ‘right’ direction, and make bigoted remarks about other gay or trans people.

Some trans people, after coming out, have lost their families, or things have become so awkward that going to see them and sitting silently seething is actually about the only option.

But for most of us?

Yeah, it can be upsetting to go and not have a lovely time with your family. But for most of us, the most awful things about Christmas are still the same as frustrations experienced by straight and cis people.

Take my Christmas: everyone is studiously ignoring my transition. My dad has mentioned me changing my name a couple of times, and we did have a brief chat about how my aunt took it (not well) and then we moved on. My older brother, on the other hand, has very firmly ignored the lot. He didn’t so much as say ‘alright, [nickname]’ when I went to collect him in the car. And he has done that ever since I came out — he never even acknowledged my telling him.

But the bit that’s really pissing me off? The bit where he sat for an hour lecturing us about how ‘Paris is what happens when you let foreigners into your country.’ And he obviously knows this to be 100% true because he works in the defence industry.

Yeah, I’m sure, fuckwit.

So I’m not really going to enjoy Christmas. But it’s less because I’m trans, and more because my brother is a racist douchecanoe.

Merry Christmas, everyone!