Just before Christmas I had my third and final Gender clinic assessment. The first two appointments had been with a counsellor, whereas this time I was in with two doctors as well. Once again, they dug deep into my past to look at my journey to this point. I could see them building up the picture as they probed different areas… When did I start feeling this way? How did I respond to puberty? What was my relationship like with my you-know-what?
At the end of the appointment the doctor confirmed that I have a diagnosis of Transsexualism, and they’ve subsequently sent my GP a short document explaining the diagnosis and summarising my physical, mental and social health.
So what does this actually mean?
The diagnosis hasn’t come as a surprise of course, although I suppose I might feel some validation now I have a more official looking note in my medical records.
The main change is I’ve been moved from the assessment stage to the Gender clinic care pathway proper, although the doctor mentioned that there isn’t actually much they will be able to offer me as I’ve done most of it myself. They have a hormone clinic I can attend, and then after a year of hormones I might be eligible for lower surgery… and that’s about all that’s left!
Just me being normal me…
I read an article recently entitled the transgender con, in which the author argued that there is no such thing as being transgender. Instead, they suggested that it is no more than a word invented by psychiatrists. One of the major concerns highlighted in the article was the diagnosis process, and the fact that there is no definitive test that could identify a person as trans or not.
As someone going through this diagnosis process myself, I can’t help but feel that the author is being a bit blinkered in this point of view. Aside from the fact there are plenty of issues we seek medical help on which don’t manifest themselves physically, the author also doesn’t seem to appreciate what a diagnosis of gender dysphoria means. I’ll be sitting down with a doctor in two weeks to get an opinion on my situation. If I get diagnosed, that doesn’t mean I’ll be instantly rushed off for life changing surgery, instead I will be put on a care pathway to support me over the coming years.
While on this pathway I fully intend to continue with my ‘baby steps’ approach to my transition, and the doctor won’t be setting out to bully me into anything I don’t want to do. I can also opt to stop whenever I like, in fact I find I’m meeting more and more transgender people who feel they don’t want or need surgery to be happy. It is true that some people might ultimately regret their decision to transition, but the same can also be said for any cosmetic surgery procedure. And that’s why there’s such a stringent process to go through in this country before you can even be considered for surgery.
Even if the term transgender was made up by psychiatrists, it happens to neatly fit something I’ve been doing and feeling long before I became aware of the word. Plus it’s a broad term, and I like that each of us can find our own niche under the wider trans umbrella.
Time for a selfie after my makeover!
So last night I found myself, yet again, at the office Christmas party. The event brought back happy memories of last year, where I introduced many of my colleagues to Jen for the first time. Being there again has really emphasised to me how much I’ve changed and grown in the last twelve months.
Around this time last year I was writing an article for the magazine TV Repartee. The article was centred on the Christmas party, and how I saw it as the culmination of everything I had worked for in my transition in 2014. Attending the party was a massive step for me back then, and the confidence boost I gained from having a successful and enjoyable night was huge.
While the venue and people were the same as last year, this year I was in a very different frame of mind as I took my seat for the meal. The office Christmas party was just that; a party, with my colleagues, for Christmas. There was no stressing about what people would think of me, no fears about toilets or studying everyone’s outfits to make sure I was fitting in. This year, my only worry was whether I would get to the front of the bar queue before my soup got cold!
The transgender thing didn’t cross my mind once, and these days I feel much more at ease with who I am. So much so in fact, that I gladly accompanied my manager on a trip to Illamasqua for a bit of a makeover before the party. This is the sort of thing I would have been way too scared and embarrassed to even consider in the past, so I’m really pleased I feel comfortable enough now to embrace these new experiences.
Just wish I could work out how they made my eyes so dark and smoky!