Mother of a trans son. Ethnicity: White English.

Mother of a trans son. Her son identified as male at a young age. When he got older, they paid privately for hormone blockers while waiting for an appointment at gender identity services. She feels their interactions with NHS health professionals have been a battle and that her son is not listened to and feels discouraged at the progress in his care. She feels that NHS services focus much more on physical health and side effects and attach wholly insufficient weight to psychological or mental health consequences

Mother of a trans son. As a young child, As soon as he was able to identify the difference between a dress and a pair of trousers, he made it very plain, he wasn’t going to be wearing dresses or skirtse behaved effectively as I would have expected a son to behave – in relation to sort of traditional norms and expectations At about age six he asked if he could wear boy’s school uniform.

She found the lower school really supportive but when he went to middle school their behaviour started to deteriorate. Previously he had been quite engaged in school, but that fell away; and she asked what it was that he was not feeling right about and her son replied Please don’t make me live like this mum. I can’t live like it any more. I;ve tried really hard to change my inside to match my outside. But I can’t do it. Please don’t make me do it.; So they decided, we will change your outside to match your inside.;

They planned the transition over a half term period, her son had his hair cut and immediately I could just see the difference in, she; just seemed relaxed as he;. He was happier, he was more confident After returning to school all went well for a few months but then the bullying started. He became a bit of a target and so that got really uncomfortable. We then moved him into a different school and he’s been in stealth since then. We are currently working with whether or not that’s something he wants to continue or whether he wants to start talking to people about his identity

At home most of the family and friends were really supportive. She found it, as a mother, tough, Not only was I trying to support my son in his transition, I was also trying to make sure the other children felt supported She felt the loss of her little girl but, I had this amazing new son. He changed overnight, wasn’t just his physical presentation. His personality changed; it was remarkable

Engaging with health professionals trying to navigate the system was a difficult time. She describes the experience of asking their GP to make a referral as an awful experienc. She felt CAMHS was not helpful either So, even though I could see that there were some psychological issues developing, they wouldn’t help us. So, we didn’t get any support from them It took over a year to get an appointment at the gender identity services. The process they felt was not easy and then the time needed to travel to appointments and the costs, including taking unpaid leave and missing school, were difficult. Our priorities were to maintain my son’s mental health to enable him to retain some sense of control over the, over what was happening to him. And to maintain as much self-confidence as he possibly could throughout this process. Whereas what the gender identity services were looking for was a deterioration in his mental health to support our contention that he, that my son was transgender. They didn’t seem to place any weight on him saying, This is who I am.;

Before seeing the therapists at the gender identity services, they had begun to pay privately for hormone blockers, We felt that he deserved an opportunity to be able to explore his identity free from the pressure of time that pubertal development was bringin but the therapists at the gender identity services felt that it had been difficult to assess her son, because they hadn’t been able to assess or monitor his distress over time and it wasn’t their normal protocol to assess a child whilst on hormone blocker treatment. The family had to really push for a referral to endocrinology. She feels frustrated with the process and we;re over 18 months in now, to this assessment and we haven’t had any conclusions. We are nowhere near a diagnosis. It feels like it’s been a complete waste of time

When asked if they felt judged in supporting their son she answers, Often! Often, yeah, often. I feel very judged in the decisions that&mdash’they’re difficult decisions. And they’re decisions that we have, I have taken with my son’s father, togethere are at one in trying to support our son. And the decisions that we;ve taken have been quite controversial at times. But we have taken them always on a welfare based analysis of what is right for our son at that particular time, which is how I think every decision should be made for every child

She feels that the main barrier to care Is the anxiety that every service seems to carry that if they make a mistake they’re gonna be closed down… Or they’re gonna be scrutinised by their regulatory bodies or public opinionthere’s a real self-preservation in my experience in every decision that’s been made, clinically, for my child She feels that health professionals make decisions attaching weight to matters other than the welfare of the child, which is contrary to their professional duties to place patient welfare first. Other barriers to care she believes is the lack of funding, the number of practitioners and length of waiting lists.

When asked what she thought was most important to young trans patients when accessing healthcare? She replied Being listened toit’s his body after all. And that’s where, really where the tension lies for us, as parents is trying to preserve his autonomy against the backdrop of everybody else telling us what he should be thinking, what he should be doing, what we should be doing. You know, just trying not to lose him and his voice in that process She feels that NHS services focus much more on physical health and side effects and attach wholly insufficient weight to psychological or mental health consequences

I would encourage everybody to just try and pull in as much support as you, as you possibly can. But be prepared, be prepared for a backlash. Be prepared for a struggle. Be prepared for people not to want to support you. Be prepared for people to tell you that you;re wrong. But, you know, have the courage of your convictions

Lisa described a response she got from Mermaids when she looked for advice on how to manage her husband’s lack of support.

Lisa talks about the lack of support for parents of trans and gender diverse children and how she got support from her friends and family.

Lisa talks about information she got from Mermaids.

Lisa recognised that siblings often have ‘niggles’ with each other, and developed an approach for the family of how to resolve whatever queries you have.

Lack of acceptance for her son’s gender identity led to relationship problems for Lisa.

Prioritising her role as a mother and allowing herself to make mistakes, whilst taking one day at a time helped Lisa to face the difficulties.

Lisa talked about feelings of loss for her “little girl” and the excitement of getting to know her son.

Lisa and her son intervened and offered support to a group of people in a cafe talking about being trans in a way that they found disrespectful and uninformed.

The school’s head teacher was supportive of Lisa’s son wearing a boy’s uniform, but she felt the school was scared and that she had to keep fighting to have changes implemented.

Lisa talked about some of her son’s medical records being lost because of the name change.

Lisa talked about her son being bullied after he transitioned, him moving schools and living “in stealth”.

Lisa felt that it was important for her son to leave the door open to be able to have a baby.

Lisa had thought about impact of hormones on her son’s fertility and felt it was ‘quite difficult to get that information’ about the options for her son to leave the door open’ to be able to become pregnant in the future.

Lisa talked about the decision to start her son on hormone blockers privately. She felt this gave him peace of mind and was the best decision for him.

Lisa talks about why they chose to access hormone blockers privately at an early age and the difficulties of trying to transfer her son’s hormone blocker treatment to the NHS.

Lisa describes what happens in the GIDS appointments and how her son feels about the process.

Lisa described her experience of getting the endocrinology team and the Gender Identity Development Services to work more closely together to support her son.

The GP refused to refer Lisa’s son to Gender Identity Development Services leading her to complain about the individual.

Lisa talked about finding out that her son was trans.

Based on a delay with her son’s referral, Lisa challenged the waiting list.

Lisa talks about her son’s reasons to remain in stealth at his new school.