It has been awhile since I posted any sort of actual update here, largely because I do hate reporting non-news… However, it has been so long that I might as well take stock at ths point and ask how far things have come in four(ish) months.
Modelling is going well. Having built a portfolio from my recent shots, I have finally got accepted on Purpleport (http://purpleport.com/portfolio/burnseleanor21) – my sincere apologies for assuming they might be transphobic – and I have already had a studio shoot offer for the 8th of May. Other photographers are contacting me with their ideas, so at least it looks as if I will be socially active and very visible, all of which helps when transitioning.
As for transitioning itself, the news is somewhat less uplifting. Unfortunately, the way I heard it the psychiatric hospital sat on my assessment report for several weeks, apparently not having a clue what to do with it… facepalm. Having pestered them repeatedly on the phone, the report has finally been sent to its next stage, though I personally have no idea what that is. I tried discussing it with my GP (or rather, with her stand-in replacement, as my main GP is on long-term leave), but got mainly vague and non-committal answers, especially on the subject of what sort of interim care I could hope to receive while awaiting my Gender Identity Clinic appointment. So much for my hopes of soon obtaining hormones, androgen blockers, blood tests, or even a drop of Vaniqa cream to inhibit my facial hair growth. “We can’t prescribe that to men” said the GP, not overly tactfully…
…though, in strict NHS terms, accurately, as unfortunately that is how I will be considered by them until I am formally diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and that could take many humiliating months.
Part of me accepts that it needs to be this way. One does, after all, hear stories of de-transitioners who undergo the whole process and then regret it. Indeed, such stern critics of transgender people as the religious right and Radical Feminism are fond of pointing those incidents out as evidence that transition is unnecessary mutiliation of healthy beings who could just be talked or preached back into normality. De-transitioners are, for the record, a statistical minority (varying estimates from less than 1% to 5% of actual transitioners, and not necessarily complete surgical transitoners), though obviously the fact that they occur at all is a sound reason for psychistrists and counsellors to be involved at every step of the way in gender reassignment, and for the process itself to be a test of patience. In a sense, the NHS has to soundly demonstrate to their own satisfaction the deep unhappiness of the patient – unrelated to any other mental issues – within their birth-assigned gender role and physical form, before they can contemplate helping them to rectify that. Making the process quick and easy would inevitably increase the incidence of misdiagnosis.
Having said that, what I wish the NHS would at least do is to make some sort of care available throughout the whole process. Since my mental assessment, coming up to two months ago, I have not even had an offer of counselling, or been put in touch with any local support groups. I have pretty much been left to my own devices, and have tried to make the best of it, but the tempation to take the easy – but dangerous – route and precipitate my transition with internet-bought hormones and t-blockers is getting very hard to resist. From what I hear in the trans groups on Facebook, up to 50% of patients who make it to the GIC have already taken this route, without NHS approval. Still, I feel they could have done more to discourage me from that, by either offering counselling or perhaps offering me a less drastic way of improving my social transitioning (such as the Vaniqa cream, which is neither dangerous nor irreversible in its effects). In the times that I suspect they are apathetic to my sitution – if they have even remembered it at all – my feelings of dysphoria become even worse, and the feeling that I must take control of the situation myself becomes very intense.
I find the internet often does not help much, as the trans groups I frequent on social media largely make grim reading about the obstacles and frustrations of transitioning… rather like this post. I had hoped to keep this blog positive and inspiring, but it is hard to stay inspired during this long sweat. Thus, I will probably not be posting much while the waiting persists, and I will not post at all if I do start self-medicating on actual hormones, so please do not request information, dosages, etc. It is not my business to endorse every damn stupid action I commit… The only thing I would advise is that if you do take that course, tell your GP exactly what you intend to do, then hopefully they will at least agree to monitor you.
It has to be difficult, I know, but after twenty years of denial and repression I don’t exactly have vast reserves of patience left to draw upon. Thank you to all who have supported me, though. Your encouragement has genuinely helped me to keep my spirits up and my head held high during a singularly difficult and often acutely embarrassing time of my life.