22

Jumping Hoops – A Rant on the Welsh NHS

Today, as I learn that my legal caseworker is leaving her job and my MP can’t be of any help in local health issues, I am far from being in the best frame of mind…

Let’s quickly recap… Early last year, my husband and I went to our GP to finally pursue gender reassignment, as is our right under NHS protocols. However, the NHS in Wales is more restrictive than its English counterpart, as the GP correctly informed us, and accordingly set up the various hoops that we would need to jump through to receive treatment. These were…

Referral to the community mental health team for assessment.

Referral from the CMHT back to the GP.

Application to the “gatekeepers” (nothing to do with Ghostbusters) for funding.

Once funding obtained, referral to the West London Mental Health Gender Identity Clinic – the only one available to Welsh NHS patients.

A year’s waiting from said referral to our appointment times.

First GIC appointment.

…and that is as far as we have got, at present. However, our first appointments did go very well, and as far as London goes we have no complaints. The clinicians we saw were sympathetic and eager to help, and in my case even provided me with a prescription for HRT to be handed to my GP. Hormone therapy is, of course, an essential first stage of transition, and one that patients in England (and even some Welsh health boards) can obtain even before their first appointments, to dissuade them from self-medicating on internet-bought hormones… which I have been doing for over a year now. My GP, unfortunately, said that they could only help with authorisation from London, so you can imagine how pleased I was to finally obtain some.

Having imagined that, you can now imagine how displeased and shocked I was when my GP practice – a Cardiff Bay-based clinic that had been recommended to me as trans-friendly – still refused treatment. Their latest justification is that there are proposed changes to the Welsh gender identity care pathway, and they want those implemented before taking the responsibility. They assured me it would not take long.

About a week ago I went to a trans information meeting hosted by a local NHS official, who spoke on these proposals and told me they may take up to three years to implement… though she did also tell me – as one might expect – that my GP is making pathetic excuses, and has a responsibility to treat their current patients according to the existing gender care provisions. Also, much to my surprise, she informed me that our GP had lied when they claimed there was no provision for speech therapy under the Welsh system – though both Cal and I had expressed a great interest in it.

She even told me she would be in touch to help me challenge this state of affairs… but unfortunately was not. I have since told my caseworker and my MP – to the sad lack of effect stated above – and contacted my Welsh Assembly Member, but have heard nothing back. That leaves me, at present, at a bit of an impasse, where all I can think to do for now is express my dismay and disgust that things have had to come to this. Unless the local health authorities will support Cal and I in our transition, there is nothing much London can do all by itself (monitored HRT being, as far as I know, still being a prerequisite for surgery, and Cal not being able to self-medicate in any case – testosterone being far too dangerous to take without professional help).

Our worst fear, though, is that they are playing for time, hoping that if they can stall us for long enough then inevitable NHS cuts will impact on the whole gender care service and they will simply be able to deny us care and get us off their monthly budget for good. Paranoid of us? Possibly, but that practice hasn’t exactly been enthusiastic or sensitive in helping us. I recall asking them if they could prescribe Vaniqa hair reduction cream just after my GIC referral… only to be answered with a blunt “we can’t give that to men.”

Though, to be fair, one doctor down that practice has been sympathetic to us both, though the last thing he said to me was “the squeaky wheel is the one that gets oiled.” Cryptic at the time, but in retrospect we both think he was giving us broad hints that the system is not our friend, and we will have to fight tooth and nail if we want to see this through. Not something I excel in, but I guess it can’t hurt to learn.

If anyone has any suggestions for our next manoeuvre in this battle, please pass them along. I could use some fresh perspectives after today’s disillusionments.

6

Steampunk Spam Time…

This is one thing I truly hate doing, and I can assure you have only succeeded in doing through quite considerable amounts of motivational talk on the part of friends. However, I have a novel now up for a competition – with the hope of eventually finding a willing publisher – and it rather badly needs some love.

As far as sales pitches goes… and bearing in mind the time I worked in marketing was one of the shortest and least successful of my “professional” life… it’s completely free to download, fully proofread, very steampunky, and loosely inspired by The Phantom of the Opera (though no particular version. As some of you may recall the story in general rests among my pet obsessions).

If any of you or your friends feel it might be your sort of thing, please do take a look at the site, or share this around.

Gloriana’s Masque

The Republic of Lucinia was once a kingdom founded on feudalism, magic, and tyranny. Following the revolution, it is now founded on technology, propaganda, and more efficient tyranny. Magic, though practised by a few, is seen as quaint bordering on laughable. The Alvere – a magic-using fay culture – have been totally subjugated by Lucinian science. Some Alvere have been assimilated as lowly citizens, while others have been isolated in the puppet state of Alvenheim.

A mysterious, disfigured rebel Alvere calling herself “Gloriana” invades Alvenheim with an army of mercenaries, equipped with advanced weapons of her design, and sets herself up as queen. The Republic sends an envoy: the reformer Secretary Kasimir, sympathetic to the plight of the Alvere. He is charged to secure peace, but failing that he has orders to liquidate Gloriana. Reluctant though he is to follow them, he also distrusts the queen’s ambitions.

Her ambitions, however, prove to be far loftier than he could have imagined. Gloriana has discovered the truth about their world and the forces that govern it, and believes that she can manipulate these forces to the benefit of all humanity. She is, alas, disastrously wrong…

4

Call for readers

Again, this has sod all to do with trans life or trans issues, but would anyone be interested in reading a steampunk fantasy novel? It is high time I decided what to do with this one I finished last year, and have been sitting on ever since, before I forget about it entirely. If I get enough positive feedback, I might dare to self-publish, but if not it will be useful for me to know where I went wrong.

If anyone is interested, please contact me privately (via the contact form on this site) and I will send you the manuscript via email. The short blurb follows…


Gloriana’s Masque

The Republic of Lucinia, one of the three global super-states, was until recently a kingdom founded on feudalism, magic, and tyranny. Having since gone through both an industrial revolution and a violent political revolution, it is now founded on technology, propaganda, and much more efficient tyranny. Magic, though it is still practised by a few, is generally regarded as quaint bordering on laughable.

This is particularly bad news for the Alvere – a magic-using near-human race whose once-dominant culture has proven to be no match for Lucinian science. Some Alvere have been assimilated as lowly citizens of the Republic, while others have been sequestered in the puppet “protectorate” of Alvenheim: a hostile mountainous realm which is all that remains of their ancient kingdom.

This changes overnight, as the mysterious, highly accomplished, disfigured, and deeply vengeful “Gloriana” arrives in Alvenheim at the head of an army of mercenaries, equipped with bizarre new weapons of mass destruction. Lucinia’s puppet regime is destroyed, and Gloriana sets herself up as queen. The Republic sends a peace envoy: Secretary Kasimir, who has built a reputation as a sympathiser and a reformer for the Alvere citizens of Lucinia. Much to his chagrin and guilt, the peace mission is a sham: his real orders are to discover any information he can about Gloriana’s weapons, so that Lucinia can retain its superiority in the arms race. Failing that, he has orders to liquidate her. Deeply reluctant though he is to follow them, he also distrusts Gloriana’s intentions and ambitions.

Her ambitions, however, prove to be far loftier and deadlier than he could ever have imagined. For the Alvere queen has discovered the truth about their world and the forces that govern it, and she believes that she can manipulate these forces not only to her own advantage, but to the benefit of all humanity. She is disastrously wrong…

© Eleanor Burns, 2016

 

12

Return of the Living Dead Name (but bearing good tidings)

It may not seem much, and if you follow blogs such as this you may well have seen enough of the things for a lifetime, but…

Annoyingletter

…my letter from the Gender Identity Clinic in London has finally arrived, telling me I can probably expect an appointment within thirteen months of the referral date (May 5). Whilst that is hard to get too excited about, at least things are definitely moving forwards again, and I can (hopefully) stop fretting so much. Though knowing me, I probably won’t.

They used my old name, rather irritatingly, but one takes the rough with the smooth.

In other news, I have finished writing the steampunky novel “Gloriana’s Masque” that I started last october, which did its bit in bringing my gender dysphoria to a head, after it became apparent to me how much my female protagonist was a shameless self-projection of my unrealised dreams (She is also a scientist, which is what I always wanted to be until I met my high school science teacher…). Not a clue how I shall go about publishing it yet, but a friend who generally detests fantasy fiction has dusted it off in one weekend, which I will take as a good sign. Just a shame he isn’t the CEO of Random House…

Unfortunately, having resumed my internet usage (which I successfully cut down on during the last phase of writing), I find my net addiction is as strong as ever, so in order to get a handle on it I intend to only allow myself use of the internet every other day. Intermittent fasts seem to be the only option, as when I get online – meaning to spend little time – it always ends up extending… This will mean I will be checking this blog and others less frequently, but I will do my best to keep abreast during the “on” days. I do feel, though, that being an online transwoman is starting to become my whole life, and awesome as that is, it is only one facet of me.

Finally, a few more screencaps from the “Imago” film I am doing with Jason Marsh. These are the parallel “female” scenes to the “male” scenes I posted on earlier, and will depict transformation through the use of reflections and dream-like imagery. Though with that letter finally in hand, one dares to hope that we are getting well beyond the stage of merely dreaming and fantastising in prose…

r2 r4 r3 r1

5

The Sincerest Form…

A friend of mine, also in modelling, recently opened an Ebay shop, and as I wished to show support, as well as having had an invitation from Alan Moss for a second studio shoot, I had a browse there to see if I could find any new clothes that might lend themselves to the occasion. The item that instantly caught my attention was a Victorian-style corset in black, with red trimmings, which put the following three words in my head…

Evil

Gothic

Caitlyn

…and since I found Alan receptive to this idea, I now have the privilege of presenting my version of what is probably, for good or ill, the definitive transgender model shot of 2015. I had initially conceived of it as a highly gothed-up parody, but Alan goes by the logic of “If you’re going to rip something off, do it right,” thus we have a straightforward homage (but one, I think, that nicely testifies to Alan’s skill and artistic instincts)…

_MG_2630

…plus a few more shots we did with some nice gothicy-steampunky accessories thrown in, and a lovely gothic skirt I picked up in an evangelical Christian charity shop, if only they knew…

_K3_0047 _MG_2591 _MG_2601

I wonder if a few more transwomen (or adventurous cis-women) take up this idea, we could perhaps make that shot as iconic and as imitated as Christine Keeler and the office chair, or Brigitte Bardot doing contortions. At least if they did, there would be less chance of me being singled out for a lawsuit… not that we make a penny out of these, I hasten to add.