Pronouns: He / him
H is a 28 year old trans man. He says he didn’t understand trans identities when he was younger, but looking back now, how he felt makes complete sens. H says growing up he was always a tombo so much so that his mum would say oh it’s basically like I;ve got a so. He used to pray before bed that when he woke up in the morning it would be in the correct body as a boy. However he didn’t have the vocabulary to express himself as trans. there was no information about it then
It wasn’t until 2014 when H was able to do his own research on trans identities that he was able understand how he felt and who he was. H initially struggled to find a GP who was willing to help him during the long waiting time to be seen by the NHS. He tried looking into private healthcare options but found they were too experience. This led him down the path of self-medicating hormones. After some time he was able to negotiate an acceptable price to continue his care privately.
Eventually H was able to be seen by the NHS gender identity clinic and discussed top surgery options but has encountered many frustrating hurdles.
As a black trans man, H has experienced racist as well as transphobic discrimination in healthcare settings and at work. He describes how after a period of homelessness it was a challenge to secure a job and find someone prepared to give me a chanc. He says as a trans person of colour he is less likely to be seen as a huma.
However throughout the periods of struggle and rejection H says he was determined to hold o and hope for something better. He was determined not to be another statistic for the of trans suicides, I have every right to have a good life as anyone else
H says that physically and emotionally hormone therapy has been overwhelmin but overall hormones have made me happier He particularly likes the voice changes and facial hair growth. He says I feel more me now
H regrets not waiting taking the decision to preserve his fertility. He thinks having children and starting a family would be a nice thing to do.
H’s advice to others is to take control of their healthcare and check-up on their referrals.
H talks about the lack of provision of surgeons capable of performing top surgery and the impact this is having.
Age at interview 28
I think just more obviously relating to my experience, just listening to the, to the patient more. Because as a, as I mentioned before I went in there and I told them basically the most important thing for me right now is surgery, because I’ve been on these hormones for over, like you know two years now. But they didn’t listen to that. They just basically went with what, with their plan, which is their one plan fits all scheme. They need to sort of be a bit more flexible with it, and stop basically making us feel like we are so lucky to have this happen, because you know it, there’s loads of life saving surgeries that are going on and life saying treatments that’s going on which aren’t gender related, you know like cancer treatments and like you know treatments for other pains or what not, and people you know in that, who need those things aren’t made to feel like they’re so lucky to have that. it’s like well you know I pay my national insurance, I’m a citizen of this country, this country, I, this is you know the healthcare that I need, so you know without coming across arrogant this is , I’m entitled to this treatment. And they always make, make you feel like you’re so lucky to be here. And it’s the fact that when I see these groups, it feels like we’ve been conditioned to feel like oh we’re so lucky to have this and you know we’re just have to wait because, like, a lot of people are scared to email or phone to ask about their treatment. They will ask in a group and be like, Ah didn’t want to ring or anything because I know theyve got a lot going on, they’ve got a lot of people so that everyone’s always really hesitant and anxious to actually you know call and check where am I on the waiting list, or to chase them up about something because they’re like, Oh they’ve got loads to deal wit when it’s like, it’s not our fault they’ve got loads to deal with, like we, this is the care that we need, we should be receiving you know a hundred percent. But it’s never, it’s never that.
H wants some sort of support while you wait because the wait is very extensive.
Age at interview 28
There were times when I walked out of that appointment literally so devastated because it, I feel like I’ve not moved any further, any, what’s the term, haven’t moved forward with my transition. So I’ve just travelled 5 hours, I’ve had to get up at 4 in the morning, and you know to take multiple trains, a bus and I’ve gone there, only to basically tell me something that I already know and send me off. And nothing has, I haven’t moved any, any further forwards in my transition. And it’s been years like, so it really does get you down at times. And you know a lot of other people are, have been in the same position, like with the London Tra- clinic, sometimes, I’ve heard that there can be a years’ wait in between the appointments. So, there’s a long waiting time and there’s that, huh, it’s, and the thing is at least if there’s literally absolutely nothing that can be done about these waiting times provide some sort of support for people like, because you know if you go to, to you know a mental facility they don’t know how to deal with you, because obviously the gender clinics are the where all the, the professionals are. So there, everyone else outside of gender clinics they don’t know about these things. So you know it could, it could be very beneficial if they provide some sort of support while you wait because obviously the wait is very extensive, you know we’re talking three to four years, just to have your first appointment. And obviously make more options available in terms of partnering up with your GP to support you, maybe even, even get you on you know bridging hormones. Like there needs to be something to, to keep you going because if they’re really not going to put more money into it, to maybe add another gender clinic or more, more staff for the ones that exist, then there needs to be, there needs to be something because it’s just, it’s awful how long that you have to wait, and that’s the main thing that is that’s the main hurdle. You know it, the situation itself is already terrible and then on top of it is the fact that the wait makes you feel like a second rate, do you know what I mean? It makes you, it make you feel like well, you know, well, we’re all just you know not that important, and what we think is not that, that important, and we just have to deal with it because you know we’re lucky to be having this done. Which shouldn’t be the case.
H’s message to trans youth is ‘just be unapologetically yourself’. He says ‘you do you, just life your best life’
Age at interview 28
I would say do you know what, just be yourself. Just be unapologetically yourself because at the end of the day who else can you be? It’s hard, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it’s easy. I mean what makes things easier is the people you have around you. So some people have been lucky enough to have a really supportive, you know really supportive network around them. Maybe their location or their family and friends are very opening and accepting. And some people have had the complete opposite.
So you know I’ve had a bit of both and all you can do is be you because this is the life that, sadly this is what has happened you know. In order for you to have any chance of happiness you need to just go for it. Like it’s a case of don’t sell yourself short and the end of the day just be truthful to yourself and you know there’s no harm in experimenting. There’s time, you’ve got time to make your mind up but it’s a case of you know. I have a lot of friends who have said you know what I thought I was trans when I was younger but growing up I’ve become comfortable in my skin and that is absolutely fine. There’s people that go through this and then they detransition that’s absolutely fine.
Everyone is entitled to their own journey, it’s no one else’s business what happens. You feel like you wanted that but you’ve changed your mind, you need to do whatever you can to keep yourself alive and well and happy.
And I think anyone who comes out about this and you know they’re open about it from when they’re young hats off to you because it’s something that I’ve never been able to do. I hid that part me for a very long time and I have spent the majority of my life unhappy and obviously the way that I’ve sort of turned out in my adult life I’ve still got a lot of work to do to feel even more comfortable with myself and to be the best person I can be.
If you start this from young by the time you get to my age you will be living the most fantastic life and you’ll be fulfilling all of your dreams. But you need to, you need to be honest with yourself and you need to take those steps. It’s scary, it’s very scary but you know if people want to be upset about it like if family, if you feel like family and friends are going to be upset about it, oh well you can get new friends, you can choose your own family.
At the end of the day just make sure whatever you do, you are in a safe position to do so. So do not you no compromise your safety in any way. Obviously if you want to, if you feel like you’re at the point to share it, confide in someone that you trust and then you can work on that you can build on that because you know it is, it’s tough. Even people who’ve had a really good support network, it’s a tough journey; physically, mentally, spiritually, everything. It’s not easy, you don’t just take hormones or have surgery and then bang you wake up and all your problems are solved. That is not the case, it’s not the case, it’s not a case to escape your problems or to escape you know who you are. This is something that you do because this is who you actually are inside.
So please don’t think that by doing all this all of your problems will be solved. Yes it can help but it’s not going to solve every single issue that you have internally and around you ok but yeah you do you, just live your best life.
H describes media coverage of trans healthcare.
Age at interview 28
Well, absolute, absolute bull shit. It’s a load of crap. It’s just, it’s mainly anti-trans propaganda or even, even if they try and do something positive, most of the time, well from what I’ve seen. Ok here and there, there has been really positive coverage about it and they have you know picked, you know good people to cover that. But in the early days they were not, you know they wasn’t putting out the best interviews. So they wasn’t really covering the reality of it, just one portion and you know exaggerated versions of things. When we look on say digital media, if you look on the internet and look on digital media outlets, things on Facebook you’ve got a more real version of how trans people are and different subjects that they cover and things like that. So it’s a bit more, you can get a bit more detail on it and that’s in today’s sort of times. But if you’re looking at newspapers or if you’re looking at BBC news or something like that, you’re not going to get, you’re not going to get the reality of it. They always get something and twist it or they interview someone and they twist their words or they edit it to follow the narrative. And you know it’s not good and it’s so dangerous, it’s so so dangerous. As I said, I was speaking to some girl from a dating website, she didn’t even, bearing in mind she’s from [city] so you would think that she would have been fully clued up with it, nope she had never ever met a trans person before and she was asking me questions regarding it and obviously I’ve never heard back since. But it’s a case of, if I hadn’t met that person in face-to-face then I know for a fact it would have been completely different experience for her. So it’s a case of, from what, and some of the things that she was saying she obviously had just got that from the media etc. so it is very dangerous, it’s a very dangerous game but they play. And you know with me, I’m all about spreading the knowledge that’s why I’m so open about it. I mean I’ve done an interview for Sky news and I had quite a few messages about it saying saying that I came across well I had like a producer messaged me and asked me to get involved with a drama series they wanted to produce as a consultant. So obviously I feel like I’ve done my part. I’ve done some of us justice in my interview. And you know people too often say to me like “oh my god, I wouldn’t ever think that you was trans” or “I didn’t believe in it before, but meeting you it’s like this is real” etc. So it’s kind of like that just goes to show what people are being fed in the media. That whole Always sanitary towels situation where they wanted to take off the logo to be more inclusive, the whole world went nuts about that, over the internet. Even people who was meant to be my friends, they were saying transphobic things because obviously the education is not there. And you know some people, don’t get me wrong, some people are ignorant anyway but it’s the main root cause, is because the education is not there for a lot of people. And even myself I’m still learning about things and I’ve learnt from my experience and other people’s experience. But obviously, you know, I was never taught about this at school and I think if people were taught about this as part of education then you know I feel like people would be, feel more comfortable and safe being themselves so yeah.
H says he was desperate’ to start hormones and did not choose fertility preservation but looking at it now I wish I did just sort it out.
Age at interview 28
Ok so in terms of fertility, so what they do is they ask you before they sign you off on the hormones if you, you know, “if you want children we need to sort out your fertility” etc. but obviously me being me obviously because of all the waiting and the rush I was kind of like, “no I don’t really care at the moment, that’s fine”. Now I completely regret that because although it’s probably still possible to do, it’s going to be, it’s going to be a bit stressful. Because what they say is, in order to, in order to preserve your eggs you have to come off your hormones. So imagine how stressful that’s going to be and obviously basically where I take a blocker, obviously there’s not enough research around it to say this is definite. But the theory is, that it should pause the aging of your eggs. So hopefully when that time comes for me to, you know get that done which I need to do quite soon, hopefully we can get some good ones, some good ones that can be used later on for IVF situation. Because if not then that’s it and I’ll accept that because obviously it was my decision to you know not do it before when I was young and healthier and it’s something that I’ll have to live with. But you know I can’t sort of harp on that. In terms of, I mean at the moment I could potentially, technically I could potentially get pregnant and carry a baby but I don’t think that’s kind of, I don’t think that’s a bit of me at the moment where I am. I mean hats off to any trans guy that does that I think that’s absolutely beautiful. I mean if I was with someone and it was the only option then of course I would 100% do it but there’s no need for me to do it at the moment. And I mean that’s the one thing that they ask you not to do, because of course all of your body is just going through so much already. But yeah I would obviously recommend that anyone obviously thinking of doing a medical transition, no matter how you feel at the time, I think that you should make sure you look into your fertility options. Because later down the line, especially if you’re young, when you’re starting out, later down the line you never know how you’re going to feel. Because even just recently literally just the other day I was talking to some girl from a dating app and she basically just asked about kids and stuff like that and you know I said to her, “it’s a bit, it’s not straightforward, it’s not straightforward for myself”. And yeah I haven’t really heard back from her since so. But I mean fair play because obviously she’s around my age so 29, so of course she knows what she wants and obviously if she can’t get that then there’s no point in wasting each other’s time. But it is sad, it is sad because I do feel like obviously I’m missing out on things. But at the same time, it is what it is, this is how it is. So you know I think it’s one of those things where it’s going to be a bit of a mission for me to get that sorted but I will eventually take the time to do it before of course I start having my bottom surgery stages done.
And then they can do it, and obviously even till then the eggs might not be good, or might not have none left, and things like that which obviously now looking at it, I wish I did just sort it out, take that little bit of extra time to sort it out because I would love to obviously be able to have my own children. And obviously there was, there was a point where I thought I looked into to pregnancy and things like that, but I just don’t think I’d be able to cope with that. Because the, like I couldn’t even cope with being off my hormones for two months, I went mad over that. So, imagine actually being pregnant and just the whole physical changes of it, and
You know hats off to, to any trans man that does that. I think it’s a beautiful wonderful thing to be able to do and experience in your lifetime because if you was born a cis man you wouldn’t be able to do that. So it’s like that sort of, it could be seen as a little you know a little bonus to, to your shit situation but I don’t think I’d be able to cope with, with pregnancy but oh I will be looking into the, the options after my top surgery.
H shares his message for other trans people struggling to get support from their families for religious and cultural reasons.
Age at interview 28
So yeah it’s not easy, I’ve been through the works with it but you need to stay true to yourself. It’s not easy because a lot of people and especially in the BAME community come from backgrounds of tradition and strong religious backgrounds and culture, so often this type of thing is not accepted. So my, I haven’t spoken to my mum in coming up 5-years in March because obviously when I told her it, she was just kinda like “why do you want to do that? Why do you want to do that? And I just said to her, you know “speak to me when you’re ready?” and I haven’t heard from her since. And that for me has obviously been very very, it’s been quite damaging in terms of, think about how much you grow within 5 years so you know I’m nearly 30 now, so yeah it is tough but you just have to appreciate the people around you. And you know, just remember you can’t control other people, how other people act and other people’s decisions but you can control how you react and how you get on with your life. So you know it is tough but you know we’ve got to keep going. Like, the best thing, the best thing that we can do, the best revenge is to live our lives to the fullest and let them watch on the sidelines. When we become our best people, when we become the best people that we can be, the people that were supposed to be they are going to sit there on the sidelines and not get to enjoy that with you. So don’t worry about that, don’t worry.
H feels that they are less likely to be seen as a person’ as a trans person of colour.
Age at interview 28
So I always say being trans is one thing, but being black and trans is a totally different ball game. You know I’ve experienced everything, racism, discrimination through jobs, through healthcare services. Even in [city], not my GP, just the A&E. The way they treat me, it’s just unreal. It just feels like, you know they don’t see me as a person, like everyone else. I just always feel like I’m not allowed to have a bad day, I have to be perfect in order to be treated with respect I have to be perfect. If I do one thing wrong I am severely punished or I am treated extremely badly and that puts a lot of pressure on me and a lot of pressure on my mental health. And it also affects the way I see other people, like I try not to prejudge a situation but it’s always in the back of my mind because of constant experiences.
Even up to this year, constant experiences where I can see the other people have been treated differently to me. Like say for example, I went to A&E, this was this year. And basically, I’ll cut the story short, I’m exempt from wearing a mask due to underlying health conditions and my anxiety. So at this point in time I just really wasn’t in a great way. I was in there and I just kept, they just kept saying to me “We’re not going to treat you if you do not wear mask”. And I said to them “I’m happy to wear a mask when I get up and and go one-on-one with the consultant etc. But while I’m waiting, I’m social distanced from other people, like I’m exempt from the mask”. And they kept on asking me, “why are you exempt from the mask?” They just basically just for some reason didn’t believe that I could be exempt from a mask. So as a consequence, the security, basically I had security and police officers harassing me, around me, asking me “why am I exempt”? “they don’t believe me” etc.
And in the end, they said “I had to leave” so the nurse she came up to me with painkillers and she said to me “she’s not treating me unless I wear a mask”. And obviously I stood my ground, I just said “At the end of the day, it’s my right not to wear a mask because I’m exempt. You can check my file” I said, “I give you permission to check my file”. I had the exempt thing on my phone that you can download, I just didn’t have the lanyard. So the government guidance says you don’t have to have a lanyard, you can have the thing on your phone. You don’t have to explain why you’re exempt. And you know in the end I was forcibly removed by the security for basically being exempt from a mask. And then what happened was after that, I sort of came back and I agreed to wear mask and what happened was when I went in I saw a young white girl with no mask because she was exempt. And what they had told me was even exempt people have to wear the mask. So of course, I you know, what else am I going to think? And after that whole incident I was treated really badly, the way I was spoken to was really bad and I was waiting over double the time that you’re supposed to. And in the end I just ended up just going home because I literally couldn’t take it anymore. That’s how bad it was, I couldn’t take it anymore.
Baring in mind I was sent there by 111, so it got to that point where I just literally couldn’t take the awful treatment. The way that people were speaking to me, the way that they was making me wait longer than everyone else. And yeah I did put in a complaint but of course nothing gets done about it. But they, you know from that incident they have apologised to me via email. But I said to them that I want to take it further and they said to me that they have kept the CCTV from when I was forcibly removed. So I want to take action but they said they’ve kept it but they haven’t given it to me as of yet and this happened in maybe June time. So I’m trying still trying to pursue that now but this is an example of how I get treated differently to others when I go to certain places.
It’s apparently not possible for a young black man, I don’t know whether they knew I was trans or not, but I don’t know, you know it’s not possible for me to be exempt. But it’s possible for a young white girl to be exempt. And then for them to lie and say “Well every person who is exempt has to wear mask” to try and get me to wear a mask, it’s just not great. So yeah it is hard, it is very hard but you know there’s not much that I can do except for try and stay true to myself I guess. And anyone else feeling that just try to stay true to yourself because these people are really not worth it honestly.
H talks about the lack of mental health support while waiting to be seen by the gender identity services.
Age at interview 28
So in regards to supporting mental health, basically there is none. Well not any that’s provided by the NHS. Like say for example, it doesn’t come as part of your care package, so you have to, in terms of mental health you have to seek that on your own through like support groups. Like in [City] there’s, there’s a support group although I don’t really, I have spoke to them here and there at times to do sort of focus groups but not ever sort of for the support. But they have been encouraging me, you know I’m free to join whenever. But yeah this is really important because obviously the wait, the long periods of waiting to just have your first ever appointment you would think surely they would do something to support you. So while your referral’s there, it would make sense to have some sort of psychological support because obviously without you being seen most of the time you know you’re not able to you know get on with things, unless you can afford the private healthcare. So yeah I mean with mental health services, even when you do have access to you know, crisis, mental health and things like that they don’t actually, they’re not trained in this sort of thing. I had to use a sort of crisis mental health service, this was maybe 2018. So I had a bad turn and I’d just had enough and long story short they basically found me and I was in a assessment unit for a week. So when I was there they didn’t really speak to me much, they asked me what was wrong and I said to them I didn’t have access to my hormones. Because at the time I had lost my job and I couldn’t afford my private healthcare. So I said to them, “would they be able to get me the hormones?” And they said that “they’ll see”. And when they couldn’t, basically the next day they said “no they can’t get it”, obviously that wasn’t all my troubles at the time because I was homeless at the time as well. So they just kind of told me they couldn’t get it and they just kicked me out. They just said “you are fine” and they just sort of kicked me out. But obviously you know there was more to it than just the hormone situation but even with that they couldn’t, there was nothing they could do to even access this type of thing, like this type of medication. They didn’t have any sort of therapy which was relevant to what I was going through. So there definitely needs to be, you know a specialised service for trans people. Even just LGBT as well, like because obviously trans people are not the only people who go through, you know a hard time in terms of you know pressure from society and things like that. So yeah definitely there needs to be something done because you know they say that the highest rate of suicide is within trans people and it literally does not surprise me. Being, you know myself I’ve been in that low position. So yeah I can only hope for the future that they start really investing into this sort of thing and training people and I hope that people are you know in those positions are interested enough to specialise in it because it will make all the difference while you wait.
H describes why after taking hormones he would now like to have top surgery.
Age at interview 28
Until you’ve got certain things out of, out of the way like to, till you transition to the point where you want to transition, cos not every, not all people want surgery, not all people want to have top and bottom, so your, it really feels like your life doesn’t begin until then because obviously you’ve got the pressures of the, like when you, like socially you’ve got the pressures as well.
I’m struggling at the minute with my body because if that’s, say for example before the hormones obviously I struggled with my body, having, Oh I’ve got a female body So, it was like the urge to have the hormones. The hormones are like the most important thing for me, and then obviously I’ve had the hormones, now my body is masculinised, I’m happy with those changes but now I’ve still got my feminine aspects, so it’s making me feel more uncomfortable because it’s like, my boobs, they’re great for a woman’s body, they’re great. they’re great for someone else, but not for me.
And obviously where my body’s gone I just feel like my body’s a bit odd at the moment, like where some people would, might not mind, and they might not want the surgery, which is their own personal choice, but for me I feel like you know this is a massive thing you know. I’ve still got breasts and you know wearing a chest binder in this weather is the, it’s hot, it’s awful.
H reflects on transitioning as an adult and the missed opportunity of starting younger.
Age at interview 28
For me it’s a hard one because obviously I started my transition you know in my twenties. But you know I always said to myself, if I could change one thing I would have done this earlier, like cos obviously it was always there, but it took, it did take me a while to accept it. Now obviously some, some people know themselves, like some, it’s possible to be, you know for people to know themselves at different points in their lives, so you know it is, it’s one of those things no matter sort of you know, a child, you know teenager or adult, you should be taken seriously about this if you’re distressed, you’re distressed. Like just because you’re you know young you shouldn’t be dismissed about how you feel. So I feel like if they were to take away the opportunity for people to transition before they’re eighteen, cos I don’t actually know you know what exactly happens before, before you’re eighteen, if it’s possible, I just hear you know rumours here and there, but if you take that away I feel like it would cause a lot of, it would cause more harm than good because everyone, and as I said everyone’s different, like some, some teenagers may, you know they may really express this and you know some people mature quicker than others. So, you can’t say oh well you’ve got to wait until you know they’re eighteen to transition, because by then sometimes the damage is done. Because you know with the whole blockers to sort of halt your puberty, to you know so it gives you that extra bit of time you know to sort of figure things out and it, you know the puberty it gives, it gives off you know irreversible changes. So you know obviously I went through puberty, now I’ve got to have surgery and it’s really long whereas you know say if, say if you know for a young trans man if they was to have you know the blockers, it would it’s meant to stop them from growing breasts and things like that. So that for me, if I was in the situation where I had, you know accepted this when I was younger then I would obviously have wanted, that’s what I would have wanted.
H talks about the imbalance of power between patient and professional in NHS gender identity care.
Age at interview 28
Oh it’s, it’s not equal, it’s not an equal decision at all. it’s the attitudes from my experience from the gender clinic that I’ve been at it’s like you’re lucky to be seen at the minute, like anything, like any questions that you have like, Why did it take so long and they’re like It just does and you know everyone’s got to do the same and wait the same and if they’re, it’s them making all the decisions for me because when I was doing my research on it, like the whole pathway it said that you can do, so there ain’t no specific order to your transition, so if the patient experiences a need for surgery like over hormones then you should go with what the patient what you basically work within the patient, patient’s best interests. That’s what it said. And they’ve not done that whatsoever. I went in there and I expressed the need for this surgery, above all else, obviously I was on the hormones and I said to them, it’s costing me a lot of money to do this, so you know I need that on the NHS as soon as possible. But the most important thing to me is, is surgery because this is the thing that’s giving me a lot of stress And it’s like they basically told me, Well we can’t after everything that’s obviously they know about me, We can’t approve your hormones today Like so I had to wait an extra couple of months for them to just say, Okay we’ll put your hormones on the NHS When I’d already been taking that for, for like two years.
So I don’t feel like, I feel like they take, there is no power, there is no patient power because no matter what you’ve done to, for yourself in the past they don’t take that into consideration whatsoever. They do it, they do it at a pace that they want, and whatever happen, they basically treat you how they feel that they, that it should go. So you know the two appointments for your hormones, and then they’ve said that you need two signatures for top surgery, when I’ve looked at the guidelines and it says you only need one. So they’re making their own rules for things and you know if I said to them I needed this surgery and they know I’ve been, they know I’ve been on this, these hormones for like two years, so what’s the best thing to do in my interest? Obviously sort me out with the surgery referral. That would have been what would have been best for me at that point in time. What difference did it make waiting, now honestly what difference did it make because nothing would’ve changed in my, in the way that I felt nothing, there’s no, there was no way it was gonna change cos I’d already been doing this for years. So I’d already started my transition so what difference what would be the difference between doing my referral when he first saw me, or maybe the second appointment to when they actually did it, in, so all them months passed, what was the difference?
Not because of the actual medical reason why you need to wait at least six month for something, there was, there is no medical reason, no medical like, if they say, say things like, Oh you need to, you have to be on the hormones for at least three years because something to do with your capability for the surgery or something, then I’d be like okay because that’s a reason which is, it’s a justifiable reason which is, you know, under a medical basis, but there isn’t none. There is no medical reason why they couldn’t have done it in that, Say if they were like oh no, you, there’s something in your blood whic, or, You’ve got a health condition which you need to resolve before you can have the surgery I could understand that, why it would need more time. But there was no, there’s no reason and for that reason, for that instance, sorry for that example that’s why I’m saying there is no power, because you go there, no matter what you say, they will always do what they want.
H shares his experience of the process of NHS GIC appointments and trying to get signed off for surgery.
Age at interview 28
With the gender clinic they like to start from the very beginning. So when you first get seen they just basically get to know you and then you’ve got to wait for your next appointment, so they tried to say to me, Well cos you have been on the hormones, we’ll give you your first signature today, and then your next appointment you’ll be getting the second signature So the next appointment came about say three months later, two or three months later, and I was under the impression that you know I had told them in the beginning that the most important thing for me now is my top surgery, because I’ve been on these hormones for a long period of time, I’ve had changes, my body has changed, so now I’m feeling more distressed because my body is, my body is masculinised however I have these feminine features. So, this is something that’s urgent for me. So, I was under the impression that you know I’m travelling, I’m doing a ten-hour round trip because at this point I was no longer driving, and I’d moved to [city]. So, I was under the impression you know I’m going to go there, I’m going to get the second signature for hormones, and they’ll talk to me about the top surgery. Why wouldn’t you? But that wasn’t the case. Then they basically said we can’t do that in the same appointment, you’re gonna have to wait and so the doctor even lied to get me out of the room, because I was obviously I was like, No, tell me why you can’t do it And he said cos I had to have a full body examination, he said, with like some nurses, he basically said to me, They will sort out your referral for you So, if So obviously when I spoke to the nurses they were like, Well no, obviously you can’t do that with just nurses, we can’t do that for you So I was really, so I left them very disappointed, not knowing, the thing is they don’t give you your next appointment date in that appointment, so you don’t know when your next appointment is going to be. They always say around four months, so yeah so, I had to wait, and I wasn’t happy with the service that I received so I put in a complaint to PALS.
And I said they haven’t justified why I’ve got to wait and they’ve obviously put my case across, and they spoke to the people, you know the doctors who were in charge of me, and they basically lied and said that well, I, they need to make sure that I’m steady on the hormones before they do the, any referrals and I didn’t know the dosage that I was taking, I wasn’t sure of what I was, what I was taking so therefore they couldn’t, they didn’t have an accurate description of what was going on so they couldn’t do, so they were not able to do a referral at this point. But if you look at my notes that they done, which, you know get sent to me after, it said, it said all the doses that I, all the information that I told them was on there. And it isn’t even highlighted that I’d expressed a need for top surgery etcetera etcetera, so they were trying to say that you know I didn’t give them enough information for them to make that that call. Which obviously it wasn’t true. So I wrote back to them, to the complaints service again, and I said, I’m not happy about that, and I’ve done all this research saying that your hormone treatment does not affect your top surgery, whether you can have top surgery or not There’s a couple of things in the guidelines which you need to qualify for, which I’ve qualified for, which they say it in my notes, it’s says that and so there’s no reason for them to delay my surgery, so, in the end I didn’t get another appointment until I think maybe four or five months later, and when I got there they didn’t apologise to me or nothing, they just basically spoke, talked to, spoke to me about the top surgery and said, Yep, happy to do the referral today And I said, What? Are you going to do that today So, this was August of 2019, and they said, Yep, we’ll do it today So, I left there feeling very hopeful that this was going to happen, cos I’d already contacted the hospital of like so this is in [city], near me. I’d already contacted them to find out the waiting times, so I, I roughly could estimate when it was going to happen to me. But as usual I was let down again, because five weeks later when I contacted the hospital to find out about the referral, kind of how long it would be, they said they hadn’t received it. So obviously I’ve contacted the gender clinic, and they basically said ah they’ve got a backlog haven’t got round to doing it, and I said, This is quite unacceptable and I just said to them, Do you know what, I’m going be seeking legal action, because I feel like there’s obviously something dodgy going on here and I said, You need to do this referral or else I’m going to actually turn up, I’m going to turn up to the clinic again, and I will not leave until I know it’s sent off, because this is very important to me Anyway, somehow, by some sort of miracle they was able to do it that day. Cos then they tried to say to me, Oh we need a second signature So, I thought, don’t you dare, don’t you dare tell me I’ve got to have another appointment. Because this was not disclosed to me in that last appointment I had So they said, No don’t worry, we can get that done electronically today, and it will be sent off today And they done it. That same day. So yeah, called up to the hospital a few days later and they said they received it, gave me a guideline of the time, and so I think they received it in September and then I had my consultation at the start of March, this year, and my surgery was supposed to be last Friday, but obviously because of Covid, [laughs] so after all [laughs] after all of that fighting, all of those years of just being let down and I finally got a date, finally got that date, I’m like Yes Like doing this big announcement on Facebook, finally getting my tits off on this date, it’s happening 15th, Friday 15th May, this is happening. Obviously, it was at this point it was only a ten week wait from when I got told, so like Yes, I can’t believe this is happening And then April time when they told me it’s cancelled. I can’t believe it. I was like, Of course this would happen, to me, this would happen. I’ve finally get that one thing, that, that one, that one, the thing is the hospital is a ten minute drive from me, it’s a two hour procedure, something that could have just been done years ago if people had hurried up, and then now it’s been caught up in Covid. And I’ve just, I really truly believe that if that second appointment that I had, where they, they, you know they can’t, they authorised my, technically it was for the hormones, if they had just done the referral then, I would have had my surgery by now. So, it’s a very frustrating position to be in, it’s the waiting that is the massive barrier for me.
H talks about trying to get a bridging prescription with his GP
Age at interview 28
So one of my friends, they managed to get a bridging prescription. Because they was in, they were having sort of a mental health crisis. And obviously their GP, because it literally depends on your GP, whether they’re clued up or not about it. They basically allowed them to do a bridging, the bridging process which is where they, while you are waiting to be seen, they basically prescribe you the hormones on the NHS. So my friend was lucky in that case. But when I brought that case to my GP, he literally was having none of it basically. So yeah it was it was tough but yeah hopefully things have changed by this point because we talking like, how many years ago now, we’re talking about 6 years back, 5/6 years back. So hopefully things have changed for the better and you know more bridging prescriptions are happening because it’s obviously a really long wait for the gender clinic, especially since Covid.
H says the guidelines for shared care are very clear. It’s a very simple process that’s been made to be very complex.
Age at interview 28
So with shared care that’s basically where if you have a private agreement then they can, they basically prescribe you with the hormones and then you’re NHS GP will then, will then administer it for you. So yeah so basically I signed up to a private healthcare service. This service has received quite a lot of criticism within the media but my personal experience with them have been fantastic. I mean when I first joined with them, I wasn’t in a really good financial situation so what happened there was they agreed to you know lower the price a little bit. But the issue that I was getting was getting the shared care agreement. So my original GP was like no, because he doesn’t have experience with it and he’s heard of that private healthcare service and obviously seen stuff in the media. So he wasn’t willing to work with them. But luckily one of the nurses she basically sort of stepped in and said that she was happy to sign that agreement. So yeah my personal experience with that private healthcare service was really good. They basically assessed me and obviously spoke to a psychiatrist etc. and then got signed off on the hormones. So basically everything that they pretty much do on the NHS, they done that but in a much shorter time period. So obviously the only issue with doing it like that is that you have to have the money to front first and then obviously you’ve got to continually like continuously pay for the service and for your hormones. So when I did get into financial crisis I wasn’t able to afford my hormones which caused a lot of problems for me. But in terms of in terms of the service that I personally received from this particular private healthcare clinician it was fantastic. Obviously with the NHS it’s just, back then when I started, it was a case of my GP didn’t have a clue what to do or you know where to even refer me to so it just shows how much, how little the NHS invests into the gender sector.
H talks about his ‘excellent’ and ‘clued up’ current GP service and a previous GP where ‘I had to give him all the information’
Age at interview 28
Ok yeah so since I’ve been in [city], you know what they’ve actually been excellent. Obviously, they’re quite clued up on things. There’s even trans staff member there, trans staff members there. But yeah they’re very welcoming and like you know, I do really feel like they care about me and anything that I ask, they always look into it. They’re very supportive and very friendly. Obviously I have to go there on quite a regular basis for my shots because there’s no way that I’d be able to do it myself, I’m too scared of needles. Every time I get it done I’m just like “yeah don’t tell me when”. You think I’ve been used to it by now, but no (laugh). I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. But yeah, this particular GP practice that I’m with, they are excellent. But in the past it hasn’t always been like that in a different area. So when I first obviously came out I remember I went to the surgery where my uni was based. I told him the situation and I had to actually give him the information on what to do, like how to refer me. And he then said to me he needs to get back to me because he needs to do the research. So he didn’t even have a clue what to do.
H reflects on his early experiences of gender and identifying with a trans guy in an internet video.
Age at interview 28
Ok so, it must have been around 2014. It was one of them things where it was just starting to be spoken about in the media, a little bit. At that point in time, I feel like I always knew because the word was being thrown around and there was a part of me that always avoided it. Obviously growing up there wasn’t really much resources on it, but I think yeah 2014 was when it was starting to be spoken about in the media quite a lot. And yeah I remember just watching this, this clip of this guy just saying exactly how he felt and I was just literally like “Oh my god, this is actually me” and the fact that I started crying just told me at that point this is me and I need to do something about it.
H talks about all the changes he would like to see for trans gender diverse young people at school.
Age at interview 28
I think with this sort of thing you need to respect someone’s privacy, so it is, it’s a hard one because obviously I’ve never been in that position where I’ve been in school and needed any support like that, it, I suppose it depends because if you’ve got a pupil that’s you know, openly transgender and they’re, cos I know they’re, the cases where you know someone’s openly transgender but they’re in a same sex school, so you know an all-girls school, and then a trans man comes out, but they can’t change schools, they have to stay in the same sex school. And I think in that situation you just need to try your best to be respectful, and need to actually ask, don’t assume, ask the person and obviously not anything inappropriate, but ask the person, do your research, like speak to you know healthcare professionals, speak to, go on forums, go on groups, watch you know dramas on TV, watch documentaries, because at school this, you know school can be the best place and it can be the worst place.
Kids are cruel and you know, some, you know not, not all, not all situations I’ve heard of you know, people have had a bad experience within school. Some have had brilliant experiences in school, where they were supported, but, but for teachers you are basically responsible for this person for the majority of their, their day, each day. So you know get to know them, obviously see what they, just work with the person, see what they’re comfortable with, what pronouns they prefer to use, how, and just ask how can they, they help. And yeah the best, the best way to do that is to do your research, don’t assume and but don’t also put too much emphasis on, on it, because that’s the worst thing you can do, you know make someone feel alienated or, or like, like they’re getting absolute special treatment.
So if you want, so say for me at work the you now there’s a couple of managers that I’ve told, they never speak to me about it in front of anyone else they, they don’t single me out or make it obvious, it’s just a case of it’s just between us and you know if any, if I want anyone else to know I will, I will tell them, so it’s kind of like don’t make a, you know a situation out of it because you know ultimately you just want to live a nice life, with, we don’t, it’s not that oh we want to be, obviously it’s nice for people to recognise that we exist, but it’s not a case of, we don’t want to have to be doing these protests and fight for the rights all the time, we just want to have a nice life. But it’s unfortunate we have to do all this protesting, we have to do all these interviews and we have to do these things because, or else nothing will change, you know, but, I mean for someone whose just trying to get through school you don’t want to make a massive deal out of it, but you do want to, obviously where you can, accommodate and by the only way you can do that is by researching and actually asking and speaking to that pupil. And teachers also need to you know not make it a big thing because obviously then other students pick up on that, and then they will start sort of thinking, Oh this is a big thing like so it might alienate the student.
So you know what, there needs to be more education on it in schools, as well, just like you sex education you get taught about the birds and the bees, male and female parts, and then at the end of the day this is all part of it. They can’t, and you know you’ve got these, these parents protesting about LGBT education and I think for what? Because unless you’re going to shield your child for the rest of their lives, from the outside world, then that’s, it doesn’t matter. Like at the end of the day they need to be at least education just because the pure fact, because of history, obviously history, LGBT people were oppressed, so this is the reason why it needs to be in the education because obviously generations before us wasn’t so accepting of it wasn’t an everyday life thing, so it’s not necessarily the automatic rules that need to be taught from now then as time goes on generations come, it’s just you know a normal thing. Because it is just a normal thing. Like who you love and who you want to have sex with is just, it’s just that. So, it’s a case that there needs to be education to let people know, you know, this is a thing, it is this. You don’t have to be ashamed of it, this is part of everyday life, apart from there is a history and this is what used to happen, but this is where, how we’ll go forwards.
And it needs to become the norm because at the end of the day, as I said, who you, who you love and who you choose to have sex with is, it’s just that. So if it’s someone of the same sex, or someone of the same sex it really isn’t a big deal, so it needs to be put into to, you know people from when they’re young that this is not a big deal because we all know the fears of being different and how it’s affected us as people. Some people it has really, really affected them and they’ve, they’ve ruined their lives, over it. You know they’ve done, they’ve lashed out in different ways, and they’ve shed their anger in different ways.
Whereas some people have you know sort of used that to build themself as a person and it has given them strength, but at the end of the day that fear of being different, it needs to be gone, it needs to be gone.
H shares the story of coming out to his friends.
Age at interview 28
Ok so coming out story, ok what happened, so why has my mind gone blank. Ok so coming out, so yeah, it started basically when I was at uni, so this is around 2014 time, I was basically seeing this girl and at that time had bought a chest binder. So I remember one night we got like really drunk and I basically told her, I told her by lifting my, lifting up my top to reveal the binder. I remember I was crying a little bit. And yeah she was really supportive and she, the one thing she said to me was “I think that you should tell your friends because at this point, obviously I was away from home so obviously I felt comfortable telling her because she didn’t really know like my friends. So anyways, I then told my best, my bestest friend from school, who I was still in contact with, cause like, sort of, that was, when did that happen so the next, so there was a little bit of a gap there before I told my friend. Because at this point in time, I think I was in a new, I was in a relationship with someone else, so I didn’t kind of know what to say. But yeah I told my mate and yeah she was fine with it. And then I said about “how am I gonna tell my girlfriend at the time and she was kind of like, like sort of “go for it”. So yeah basically I told, I told my girlfriend and that time I think I built it up so much that when I told her she was like, “oh is that it?” Because I swear it was literally I was like “I need to tell you something” and I started this whole speech and then she started crying, I was like “why are you crying?” and then obviously after I told her she was like “oh, I thought you was going to say you cheated on me!” (laughs) so she, I think it was a bit of relief there but yeah she was fine with it and then she was the one who told me to tell my other, my other close friends. So yeah basically a few months later on one of my birthday’s, I got all my close friends together, people that I trusted and I basically gave a speech and (laughs) me and my speeches it was so long-winded. I basically, you know built up to it. I think it was recorded at the time. There is, there is a video somewhere. Yeah basically, I told them the situation an yeah I was crying and everything and then they were like “oh is that it?” but then they were like “oh really proud of you” and things like they never saw me as a girl, they always saw me as a guy anyway so they were kind of like “it’s not shocking at all”. But I just remember the nerves, literally I was shaking everything and my mate, one of my friends was looking directly at me, really putting me off and she was kind of like “yeah what is it? What is it?” But no yeah it was such a relief when I got that out and obviously at that point I wasn’t on the hormones or anything so I just said to them, “can you, obviously for now, can we keep it to ourselves? Obviously if you’re gonna tell, share it with people, please share it with people that we, that you know we all trust”. So yeah I think it was, it took about a year or so for me to get on the hormones and then I, what did I do? I then yeah, the following year when I finally decided on a name, I then had a name change ceremony, had like a couple of my closest friends signed the deed poll thing. And then I put it on, basically I put it on social media which got quite a lot of support, it was like maybe over 1000 likes. And people were sharing it saying they was proud of me and everything. So yeah that was, that was really really nice. But yeah, I told my family, basically told my mum, that didn’t go well. But yeah that’s my coming out story.