So it begins. After years of dabbling with herbal estrogen, progesterone cream and breast pumps, I’ve finally decided to do this properly.
On September 7, 2015, I went to see my doctor and, with a dry mouth and nerves jangling, told her: “I’m transgender.”
I made the appointment about a fortnight earlier and was on cloud nine once I’d put the phone down. After years, decades, of dreaming, I’d taken my first step to some kind of transition. I was probably the happiest I’d ever been.
I’d dabbled with phytoestrogens such as Pueraria Mirifica before, but they proved detrimental to my health (more on this later) so I stopped after about eight months.
Then I decided I’d better do this properly, through the NHS. I made an appointment with a lady doctor – one of my local practice’s partners – and then I waited for the day to arrive.
My appointment was at 6.50pm. I arrived a few minutes early, checked in and then sat down in the waiting room.
After a couple of minutes, in walked someone I knew. He’s a massive man with a deep voice and very sporty. I kept my head down as he spoke, quite loudly, to the receptionist about some sporting injury or other. I really wasn’t in the mood to chat and I knew he’d ask me: “What are you in for?!”
He soon left, and my name appeared above the reception in red LEDs. I was really nervous now, but I got out of my chair and walked into the doctor’s room, closing the door behind me.
“What can I do for you?” she asked. She’s probably asked that question thousands of times – usually to people with bad backs, flu and the like.
I explained that I was really nervous and then just came out with it: “I’m transgender.”
I told her about the phytoestrogens I’d been taking, which she was less than impressed with and that I’d now stopped and wanted to transition properly.
She asked me a few questions: Do you cross-dress? Yes, all the time, even now. Do you want a sex change? No, just the effects from hormones. That kind of thing.
I was a bag of nerves – I’d only discussed my trans side with people really close to me before (apart from when I saw a counsellor about 20 years ago). But she’d evidently heard this all before and seemed understanding.
I’ve read that many doctors refer patients to see a psychiatrist before sending them to a gender identity clinic, but my doctor said she was going to refer me straight to the GIC.
This was good to hear. She then said that there may be a waiting list of about four months. This pleased me no end because the clinic’s website states six months. So, thanking her for my referral, I headed home, happy as Larry.
A week or so later, I’d not had my referral letter, so I called the clinic just to make sure they’d received it. They had – but I was then told that the waiting list was now 12 months.
A full year to wait! I was absolutely distraught. And that’s just the waiting time for the first appointment. You then wait another three months for the second appointment – and then another three for the third. Only after that third and final appointment do the doctors decide whether or not to prescribe HRT.
So we’re looking at 18 months before I (hopefully) begin taking estrogen. With such long NHS waiting lists, is it any wonder that people who can’t afford to go private risk their lives by taking drugs bought on the internet?
I won’t go into detail here (maybe in a later post I will) but the phytoestrogen I was taking really harmed my health. Taking estrogen is a risky business – it can lead to DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and, if that blood clot decides to move from your leg, you could end up having a heart attack, a pulmonary embolism or a stroke. You might die.
So here I am, counting the seconds, minutes and hours until that first appointment. And I’ve decided to do something to make the wait more bearable. So, I’ve been doing lots of research online, I’ve bought and read TG books, I’ve now launched this blog and I intend to start attending monthly meetings of the Transcend group in Derby.
It’s better than sitting here twiddling my fingers.