It was my periodic trip to West London yesterday, to the gender identity clinic. Nice day for it, a hint of spring at the end of February.
My usual pleasure of a walk across the park from Paddington, then a short Tube journey for lunch with a friend from way back in a quiet London boozer. Being used to London pubs being full of noisy people in suits drinking eye-wateringly expensive concoctions and yakking away at each other about business it was refreshing to find a quiet local among the bustle. For once London Pride was the local ale.
The clinic was busier than usual. A mix of people waiting, bound into a camaraderie of suppressed laughter by the arrival of a patient who complained continually of the heat but wouldn't remove her heavy coat, then sat and belched periodically. We're a troubled community at times.
So, to business. My secondary clinician this time.
These appointments are an exercise in the clinic ensuring that things are going well. A check-in if you will. Their aim is not simply to ensure that we transition, but to ensure that as we transition we do so without taking any paths of no return before we are certain they are the right path for us. Thus these appointments are for monitoring our progress.
The clinic are motivated by a fear of "regretters". People who've had The Surgery and then decide they were blokes all along. Or vice versa for transmen. It's a justified fear, and one I think we as a community should maybe take more seriously than we do. The regretters are always "someone else" for us, we should recognise that we all have the potential within us for it to go wrong.
Do the clinic get it right? Probably, for most people. But they only see us for half an hour every six months. It's too easy for the Narrative to creep in, I wonder whether some people I've met have managed to pull the wool over the clinic's eyes and move forward a little too fast for their own well-being. The GICs are too thinly spread for this, but I sometimes wish a less medical and more community-oriented approach could be taken to this keeping in touch.
So, the usual conversation. Talking about work, my wife, my decision to go to a local endocrinologist rather than their one. That last seemed to be accepted grudgingly, however as I said I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't lucky enough to have a genuine world expert running my local endocrinology clinic.
That's it then. So long, see you in the autumn. Then the tube back to Paddington and a train journey home through a still partially flooded Thames valley.
Another square passed on the game board, haven't landed on a snake.