Saturday, 8 May 2010

It's official

    This afternoon, I left work early and made the journey to my local teaching hospital to see the shrink who deals with transgendered people. I was accompanied to the waiting room by my local support group friend Dawn, with whom I spent the rest of the afternoon, and to whom I am very thankful for providing some moral support.
     His normal job involves certifying that a patient is really trans and not a nutcase, before referring them on to the next step in the path to transition. I sat down in his office and told my story the way it is, and he indicated he'd be happy to send me forward, but for my stated desire to avoid it at all costs. Too big, too married. So I came away with the diagnosis I wanted which gives me some protection, but not much else beyond "Come back when you've gone potty".
     There wasn't much else to be expected, but it would have been nice to find something more on offer that I didn't know about. As it is, it's difficult not to have pessimistic moments about the downhill slide.


  1. Dont worry,
    This is another step on yopur journey.
    You will find the right place for you with time and baby steps.
    It is a significant step to see someone like that. When you have managed to work out where you feel you need to be on this path, you can see them again and move things forward if you feel its appropriate.
    Keep being honest with yourself as to how you feel.

  2. if a referral to a GIC is on offer, why not take it up? Transition isn't obligatory, and it may be useful

  3. ..that was a brief note from my baby computer. Your sense of disappointment that there isn't really very much on offer seems to be a common response to encountering the official machinery. I'd vaguely expected to be welcomed in and looked after by the GIC. Of course it wasn't like that; more a case of getting on with my life and popping in every now and then to talk things through. But the talking things through was good, and even useful. And it was good to encounter people who understand stuff. And, as I suggested, they don't operate a one-size-fits-all conveyor belt carrying you inevitably to transition and GRS...

    Anyway, congrats on being official. As it were.

  4. Can i go agree with Dru's baby computer?

    When I went to the doctors to get get a referal to the VU, and explained pretty much what you said I was was simply told they are there to help you and just because you go doesn't mean you have to transition.

    I appriciate the system seems a little better over here than in the UK (except the waiting list) but I can't imagine that the gender clinic can offer no support for people who need some sort of help without transitioing.


  5. Morning all,
    I was definitely given the impression that a referral to the GIC would not be forthcoming because there wasn't much it could offer me. Which is fair enough, if that's the case. I'm free to make as many appointments with the shrink as I want because his door is always open (on Friday afternoons at least), but I'm not convinced that would be of a huge amount of use. I can talk as much as I want to friends like Dawn, and unlike the shrink she gives me coffee. I suppose I could serially make appointments until he refers me on just to get rid of me. Hey! Dru, you've given me an idea, I could buy a ukelele!
    My support group has someone in a very similar position to me who I believe has more experience in this particular matter, I'll quiz her on the subject.
    I'm not sure there are many cases in the NHS where a patient who's finally braved the system is given advice that could be paraphrased as "Sure we can help you! Come back when you've lost your job and your wife's left you.", but that's all part of the uniquely annoying nature of our affliction I guess.

  6. I suspect the NHS is still catching up with the nature of the problem. It will provide a traditional care pathway of hormones and surgery for those who need it, but the realisation that trans people come in a range of flavours is still pretty new to them. Although the excellent NHS Guidance for GPs emphasises that the condition is gender variance, the system is still geared primarily to medical intervention. To be fair, for those of us who need to transition fully, it's wonderful that the treatment is available, and free.

    It seems to be readily available psychotherapy which is lacking. I know from my own experience that my PCT does not have a gender therapist on their strength. Psychiatrists with gender experience, yes, but no specialist with whom you can explore your own personal pathway. Even reassurance that you are sane and normal - and that GD is remarkably common - would help many people.

    Guess what? Gender psychotherapy isn't automatically funded here. So there isn't the option of ten or fifteen hours talking therapy clearing the way for hormones. It's RLE or bust. And if transition isn't for you, you pretty much have to find the way for yourself.

    "And the best support system for individuals with gender dysphoria? Other gender dysphoric people." - Anne Vitale

  7. My own interaction with NHS GICs left me with the view of great if you want HRT or surgery, but not much else - they probably ought to be renamed "HRT&GRS clinics" rather than "GICs".

    That said, I'm becoming of the view that the medical interventions are of secondary importance to working out your own route and place of comfort. If I was doing this again, I would avoid the NHS completely - not to criticise the NHS, but my feeling is that for many people the NHS provision doesn't scratch where the itch is.


  8. You've both got it so right. It seems comical how little they seem able to comprehend outside the narrow confines of their offering. Which makes me wonder, are there people who are pushed down their route because it's all that's on offer when it might not be the best for them? Almost certainly.

    I guess the thing that I find annoying is not that there wasn't much they could offer me. I knew that, expected it. It's the whole "Leave it until you're really in a bad way" attitude. On two counts, firstly the "Screw up someone else's life, we don't care because only then can we treat you", and secondly because they wouldn't say "You've got cancer. We're not prepared to do anything for you now, come back when it's metastasizing". Strikes me the death of a TS who commits suicide is just as final as that of a cancer patient. But infinitely less heart-rending for prime-time telly, naturally.

    My bottom line is this: I need my brain back, all this is starting to affect my ability to earn a living. Don't care how, I'm not somehow trying to find a way to get hormones without the effort of RLE or something, I just need to be able to do my job. Hell, if I wanted hormones I could give up some of my more expensive vices and go to Dr. Curtis as a private patient!

    Sorry, this has evidently caught me at a ranty moment. Let it all out! Cathy's right, your best support group is other gender dysphoric people, you can rant at them. :)

  9. Jenny
    I had the same reply when I visited the Glasgow Gender Clinic last year. If I wanted to transition they could help, if I didn't they couldn't. Logical I suppose as transition is the only proven way of fixing this, but like you, what if I want to resist and fight this. Came away a bit depressed but resolved to find away.
    Take care

  10. Hi Karen, You'll understand my ranting then :)

    What can we do, save for plodding on? Keep making a noise I suppose.

    Keep in touch.