Well maybe not but today does bring me one step closer to what I want and need to do for myself to feel right in my own body. It’s been thirteen months but today I finally had my first appointment at Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic (GIC as I can’t be arsed to keep typing that out).
I suppose that unless you’ve been living on the moon you know how ridiculously long it takes for transgender people to get access to facilities and care they need to sort themselves out and feel right in their own bodies. I should have gone in April but had the appointment cancelled by them 4 days beforehand. Given I have anxiety issues anyway with important meetings and appointments being whipped away at the last minute after looking forward to them, this was not good for me. It also resulted in me spending the past few days in a high state of anxiety hoping it didn’t happen again and resulted in me being wide awake and messing around on Twitter at 5am. I really wasn’t too bothered about the appointment itself, having been through this all before last year, it was the getting there and making sure I got there which was getting at me. Sounds a bit daft but that’s me really.
Figuring out what to wear was easy really. I was riding the scooter to the station so that meant jeans and whatever top I fancied wearing on the day. I went with something simple yet appropriate without drawing too much attention to myself. I also decided to wear my Pride necklace in light of the horrible goings on in Orlando. People should not be gunned down because of who they love and this world is a fucked up place if those in power do nothing to prevent future tragedies.
Anyway, I went and did my now familiar routine of bike, train and tube to where I need to go, having done several runs to go see family down south among other things lately. If I ever get a job which requires commuting to London during rush hour, section me. I hate crowds and noise, I hate the underground at the best of times but the underground at 9am is a special hell for me. I had to wait for three trains before I could actually get on one as they were that packed. I’m not too hot on going down those escalators that look like they’re half a mile high from the top either.
Anyway, one mild panic attack later I get to Baron’s Court and wander over to the clinic. Thanks to my usual trick of factoring way too much time to get to places I’m an hour early. Thankfully I remembered to pack The Long Utopia to read while I’m waiting and having updated a couple of minor details for their records. Interestingly they’ve got a new I.T system which they had installed the day before and are getting used to. Weather this is a good or bad thing long term I don’t know.
Anyway 11am comes and I’m called in, having calmed myself down and knowing I’m not going to be stood up at the last moment.
(Yup, my usual sunglasses/MP3 combo to block out the hectic world when I’m out and about on my own)
I’m immediately wrong-footed as I’m introduced to someone else instead of the gentleman who was meant to be seeing me (he was ill) but we soon got down to things.
Now most people who get to my stage go for an initial assessment. There’s two of them, done by two separate people to get two opinions before we get around to goodies such as hormones, speech therapy etc. I’ve already done this through my going through the private road, so the first five minutes or so I was explaining what I had done and arranging to have all my appointment notes copied as they didn’t have them on record here, though I’m sure I was told they would have been sent over. Glad I brought my black folder full of everything I’ve done to date transition wise.
With that out the way and having rather wrong footed the lovely lady who was seeing me with all this, we got on with things. I was asked pretty much the same questions Dr Lorimer did last year, questions about my dysphoria, growing up, puberty, how I came to realise I was trans and so on, as well as family history, what support I had and what experience I had socially to date.
This was useful in a way as I was able to discuss what went on since Dr Lorimer saw me and how that’s affected things. Things like how going into my new job as me has been a liberating experience and how everything that has changed has been for the better.
After all this was written down I was asked about what I wanted from the GIC, as they offer voice coaching, counselling, hormones and endocrinology, a limited degree of facial hair removal as well as surgery. I’ve gotten right to the point and said all I need is gender reassignment surgery. I discussed with her about how I’ve feminised my voice on my own, how far I’ve gotten with facial hair removal on my own (I know I’m too far along with that to qualify for any funding assistance anyway), and thanks to my discussion earlier, mentally I’m in a far better place now having figured out who I am and what I need to do. As for hormones, again that’s all set up and I have a GP who is competent with monitoring and knows what to do and who to contact if he needs advice. I literally just need my bits sorting out, which is the one thing I can’t do myself.
With that in mind I was asked what I wanted done down there. I want things to be as fully functional as they can get and I stated as such. She went a bit more into asking me how much my bits bother me and I told her I’m at a point where aside from handling the damn thing so I can wash it properly I want nothing to do with them. I want them gone and I have to remind myself every time I shower I have to wash those bits to keep them clean and healthy as I don’t want any complications arising from infections or scarring affecting what I want done.
By then we were pretty well at the end of our appointment and discussing what happens next. Usually you book a second appointment, with a different consultant and pretty much go through the same thing again as they need two opinions before giving you access to the treatments you need. With me and having just had my two previous assessments photocopied for their records it’s a bit different. When I go back I’ll likely be asked more abut surgery and what I want as by then I’d have been full time as me and on hormones for over a year and having done everything else I need or want to do the only thing they can help me out with is the surgical aspect of my transition. This could well count as my first opinion for surgery as well, though no promises were made on this. If I’m honest I can’t see why not as I’ve jumped through every other hoop and gate they ask of us.
All in all a pretty good result, only tempered slightly by the fact my next appointment is not till February next year, which sucks and highlights why we desperately need more capacity in the system to speed things up a bit. I will also note on my appointment letters it states that they have issues with a high number of patients making appointments and then not turning up or cancelling them and while waiting for my confirmation letter I overheard the reception staff lament about how 3 patients hadn’t turned up this morning alone.
With letter In hand I was all set to go. After a first appointment they usually send you off to get a blood test done to get a baseline as part of their procedures. Yup, I mucked that up as well thanks to coming in armed with the blood results from last month I have done to monitor my hormone levels. It was agreed that I should continue with three monthly monitoring of these and get a set of results done as close to my next appointment as I can.
Moral of today’s tale: Don’t wait around for the clinic. If you can do things yourself, do them. It saves time in the long run. Bring all your notes and results too. Basically be proactive as you can with things.
Now with that out of the way I one more thing to do before I came home. Sarah, a friend of mine on Facebook has just had her surgery at Charing Cross Hospital, so as I’m there myself how could I not drop in to say hello, congratulations and give her a card and a hug for getting there? She’s very happy with things, especially having had a bit of a rough journey getting there, recovering well and was full of praise for her care at the hands of the staff at the hospital, which is great to hear as I’ve not heard too much about the Charing Cross team and had been considering going there myself for geographical convenience when it’s my time to dance.