The NHS and pronouns for trans people

nhs letter

“Gentleman”, “he”, “his”, “Mr”. All pretty macho, eh? Apart from that last line maybe.

This was a letter from my haematologist, who I saw a couple of months ago after self-medicating with a phytoestrogen and giving myself DVT (see earlier post for that sorry story).

So far, my trans experiences with the NHS have been absolutely fine. My GP didn’t bat an eyelid when I told her about my female side and promptly referred me to the GIC in Nottingham. Goodbye phytoestrogen, hello the real thing, even if I do have to wait 18 months because of the epic waiting list. *Sigh*

And my haematologist seemed equally non-plussed over the matter. Both doctors are women and I felt very comfortable talking to them. Whether I’d feel the same talking to a male doctor is a different matter entirely, but I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Anyway, my haematologist did a few blood tests, said the Ainterol pueraria mirifica phytoestrogen I’d been taking would be sent away to the lab for analysis and told me to return in two months’ time. My appointment is tomorrow morning.

I then received a copy of a letter from my haematologist to my GP, filling her in on the process involved. All quite standard and ordinary, though I’ve blacked out the rest of the text as it’s, well, personal.

But the letter made me raise my eyebrows. She referred to me as a “gentleman” and used a phrase which made me laugh out loud: “Mr X was taking 6 capsules of the phytoestrogen daily, that was causing his breasts to bud.”

His breasts?!

Now, I fully appreciate that I’m non-binary and present as a guy most of the time. Some people would argue that I’m “not trans enough”, and I would say balls to them.

But the letter did sound very odd, talking about breast enhancement from a male perspective. I wasn’t in the least bit offended at being called “Mr”, but I can imagine that quite a few trans women and non-binary people would be.

And that gets me on to personal pronouns, some of which are gender-specific: the masculine he, him and his; and the feminine she, her and hers.

In some transgender circles, it’s simple. Trans women use the feminine pronouns and trans men use the masculine ones.

And then there are the awkward ones like me, non-binary – those who want to have their cake and eat it.

It’s tricky. Some people use the plural pronouns. So, you have they, them and theirs. That’s OK, but we’re talking about one person here, not two or more. We’re talking singular, not plural.

And then there is the set of gender-neutral pronouns that someone in cyberspace created. I’ve never seen or heard them used in everyday life. So, you get “ze” instead of she/he, “em” instead of him/her, and “hir” instead of her/his. You also have “eirs” instead of hers/his and “emself” instead of herself/himself.

I have mixed feelings on these new terms. On one hand, I think it’s great that there are now pronouns out there for non-binary people. On the other, I think they sound very odd.

Take the sentence “Ze shaves hirself”, which is an example given on this website. Now say it out loud.

And now try doing it without the bad German accent.

I think I’ll stick with the plural pronouns for now. And it will be interesting to see what Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee will recommend in terms of pronoun usage in its Transgender Equality Inquiry – especially with regards to the NHS.

Just finally, I love the use of Mx instead of Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms – and would be proud to become one of the first people to have the X gender marker (instead of M or F) in my passport.

MPs on the committee such as Maria Miller, Jess Phillips, Angela Crawley and Ben Howlett are doing some sterling work for transgender and non-binary people and I am sure it will mean a brighter future for girls like us. Thank you so much to all of them.

Andie x


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