Saturday, 20 May 2017

Taking Back Control, transition edition

    I've been a little quiet here of late, but with good reason. When your transition is stalled for several years by circumstances beyond your control it can sometimes take a very long time indeed to get back on the treadmill. In my case I found a shortcut, and took it.
    It would normally make me a bit uneasy, taking a brief sojourn into the private sector to get something that could take me two or three more years in the NHS, but since the NHS GIC took a huge dump on me that has already cost me two or three years I feel I've served my time. So in the middle of last month I went to see a couple of private doctors to get my GRS referral letters. They are both people I've never seen before, but since they both have NHS practices I have plenty of friends who've seen them at their GICs.
    This was my first experience of private gender medicine, and all I can say is that it's a very different place from the NHS. Not necessarily better, just different. I only needed two appointments, so the cost was fairly modest in the scheme of private medicine. Enough for a significant belt-tightening for a couple of months, not enough to bankrupt me.
    What makes it different is the access. I had arranged both appointments two and three weeks in advance, by email on my mobile phone, over the course of a half hour walk in the countryside with my friend R. A quick online payment for each, and I was good to go.
    Going to each necessitated a train to London, and since I was there for a day I arranged to meet friends both times. A visit to Tim Hunkin's arcade in Holborn with the first set of friends, then a week later a rather nice cafe with friend 2. She felt she had to warn me it was very discreetly a kink cafe, but as I pointed out: "I Googled it".
    The two clinics were slightly different, one was at the private equivalent of a GP's surgery, the other at a very flashy clinic whose main business was plastic surgery. And immediately upon sitting down in the waiting room it became obvious the main difference between the private and the NHS sector. It may seem an obvious thing to say, but for the first time in my life I was sitting among those transitioners for whom transition is something that can be bought rather than something that is a drawn-out process. I'm used to the GIC waiting room crowd, a mixture of fresh-out-of-the-closet first timers and people who've been in the system for years. The emphasis there is on Real Life Experience, living in role, and due to the delays in the system the patients haven't got much else to do but get on with it. So while the first time MtFs in an NHS GIC waiting room are a little overdone on the presentation front, most of them are in jeans and trainers, lived-in everyday clothes from whatever they are doing with their lives.
    By contrast the private waiting rooms, especially the latter one, were full of high-speed transitioners anxious to get to their goal in as little time as possible. I hesitate to go into detail because it's not really appropriate, but if I say the tone was probably more Sparkle than Trans Pride Brighton you may get my meaning. I have little doubt that within very little time all of those people I saw will have had their visit to the surgeon and consider themselves fully transitioned, but will they really have socialised in the same way as the girl who's been full-time going through the process at an NHS GIC for three or four years and is only just receiving her first surgical referral? I worry that maybe they won't have.
    Both doctors were professional and straightforward, and since I had all the paperwork necessary to prove both my HRT and my time living in role I received an assent from each of them. A few weeks for the paperwork to be processed, and there they are. Back into the system. No idea when my time will come, and when it does I'll probably be rather circumspect about it online because blow-by-blow GRS accounts can be triggery as hell, but at least now I know my day will come. One day.


  1. So glad that you are not paying too high a price in lost time for waiting until circumstances were right for you. NHS can be cold hearted with their random rules.

  2. Regardless of whether you go the private route or the NHS route you have to be able to function in society at the end of it and not have any regrets about your decision.
    I do wonder about any system where someone can be heading towards irreversible surgery and they are still having issues with things that they should have resolved long before that point.

  3. Glad to hear that you are making progress Jenny. I have a strong suspicion that this is something that should not be rushed, many times I wished I could wake up in the morning and it would all be over, but the time spent, helps to acclimatise oneself, concentrate the mind on what one really wants, and help with all the social, relationship and wokrplace problems that we can face.

  4. Evening all,
    Certainly good to have the letters in hand.
    And yes. I'll take 4 years in the real world over 18 months in the plastic one any day.