So I’ve just got back from my third appointment at Nottingham Gender Clinic – and it’s the best possible news. The experts there agree I have gender dysphora and, subject to my blood tests being OK, have agreed to prescribe estrogen. *Punches air*
Much like my first gender clinic appointment, I feel absolutely exhausted now. I guess it’s all down to more than 26 months of waiting for that yay or nay from the pyschotherapists – plus I only had about two hours’ sleep last night.
But my worries about me “being trans enough” for HRT are now over. It’s a very definite “YES”, and now I’m wondering what I was worried about in the first place.
Anyway, rewind. Got up this morning and it was bloody freezing, so I opted for jeans and jumper as my outfit for the appointment over something more feminine. A new Dot Perkins jumper, mind you, and brand new River Island jeans.
I finished off the look with my pink ballet Converse, a long black coat and my trusty wig and makeup. And I’m still getting better at the makeup. I seem to be doing the opposite of what some trans girls do when they start. I don’t wanna look like a drag queen, so I play safe with neutral shades, only adding a dash of pink on my lips and cheeks.
Anyway, drove to Nottingham without incident. Jeremy Vine was on Radio Two, talking about the last words of various people on their deathbeds. An expert in the studio said these were mostly positive – because they had no regrets.
Which made me think. I’ve written here before about my hellish vision of sitting in an armchair as an old man dressed in browns and greens, wishing I’d done what I’m doing now.
It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but I’m out of my comfort zone now and I ain’t going back there. No regrets.
Anyway, parked up the old car and walked into the clinic, where I was shown into that now-familiar waiting room of gunmetal grey, stripey carpet and a massive mural of trees, which I assume is to signify Sherwood Forest. Or something.
The waiting room was packed (compared to previous visits). Apart from me, there were six people – two who appeared to be mums and four who appeared to be trans/non-binary.
I should have been going with my pal Caroline but, due to Ryanair being shit, she was stranded in Madrid, so I was Billy No-Mates for this appointment.
Despite there being seven people in there, the room was in deathly silence, most people (including me) on their phones and one gazing out of the window.
“Very British,” my pal Jayne said when I texted her. Not sure how old-fasioned and stiff-upper-lip it is to tweak one’s gender, but hey!
Eventually, I was called upstairs by Sally Robins-Cherry, who I saw at appointment 1, and Derek Glidden, who I saw at appointment 2.
And then, to quote Pete and Dud, we had a “bit of a chat”. Again, I won’t repeat it all, as everything’s on the blog anyway, but it was all about what steps I’d taken since the first appointment.
I also told them how I’d been received by people since coming out. And regular readers will know that, apart from one or two bigots, I’ve had nothing but support and love.
I also told them about my visit to the football on Saturday. That was one of my main concerns, but the people there have been really supportive. Derek asked if I’d been surprised – yeah, just a bit.
So I just kept updating them with bits and bobs about changing my name, freezing sperm, registering myself as female with the NHS, etc, etc. With every little bullet point – every little step on my journey I told them about – their smiles grew wider and wider. I really felt like they were on my side and that I was ticking their boxes.
Someone on Twitter cruelly suggested the other day that I needed counselling because I thought I was a woman. Well, the whole process involves plenty of counselling (duh) and there will be many more appointments ahead.
Then it was my turn to ask a few questions. So I asked about surgery – this is something I’ve never really considered before now, but I have been thinking about it the past couple of weeks.
Apparently, surgery can go ahead when you’ve been on HRT for a minimum of 18 months and T-blockers for a minimum of six months.
I’ve no idea whether or not I’ll ever go through with it – I want to see what estrogen does to my brain first – but it is a possibility. I never considered I’d be going through this NHS “pathway” three years ago, yet here we are.
We chatted about gender markers on passports and NHS numbers. Part of the numbers in both state whether you’re male or female. Not non-binary yet, but I suspect that will be introduced before too long.
Then we spoke about the HRT process. This involves getting shed-loads of blood tests done and then seeing an endocrinologist to look at the results.
If all is well, the clinic sends a letter to your GP, informing him/her/them (cos medics can be non-binary, too) to prescribe HRT.
From there, you start on a low dose of estrogen and have loads of monitoring, which is good seeing as I had a DVT.
And then Sally, bless her cotton socks, said something like…
“On your next visit, you’ll have one appointment with me and one with an endocrinologist. He will look at the best way of managing your treatment. Then you’ll have an appointment with me and we’ll sign the consent form.”
Which was music to my ears. That basically means she thinks I know what I’m getting myself into, knows I have gender dysphoria and knows I want to do something about it. The consent form is just to say I realise the risks involved with taking HRT (and, as I said earlier, all that will be closely monitored and managed.
So the next stage is to start on a low dose of estrogen, which is then gradually increased. The estrogen needs to hit a certain level before T-blockers are prescribed. Doing it this way, they say, increases the estrogen’s feminising powers.
And then, after that, it’s trips back to the clinic every three months for hormone level checks (bloods done by GP) and that all-important counselling, which is really just a “bit of a chat” to see how things are progressing.
So that was that. I walked out feeling on top of the world. My next appointment is in February, and it’s only then that, all being well, I’ll be able to sign that consent form and get started.
So not quite the Christmas present I had my fingers crossed for, but at least it’s a YES from Sally and Derek, and I’ve got to be happy with that.
I’ve had a few people trolling me on Twitter of late – people who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about – so it’s good that two highly-regarded experts have stuck two metaphorical fingers up to them.
After I tweeted about the news, someone on Twitter said the waiting list had increased to 30 months now, between being referred to the first appointment.
I waited 20 for mine, and that figure kept steadily increasing all the while I was on the waiting list. I know it’s easy for me to say now, but to anyone reading this who’s on the list (I mean you, Shaz), just hang in there – the time flies.
It will also give you plenty of time to consider what you want – I completely re-evaluated what I wanted after my first appointment. As I said today, I still consider myself non-binary, but I’m fairly certain that won’t be the case in a few months’ time. It’s taken me a while to realise that. #babysteps
So I drove back to my little town and thought I’d be brave and head to my local supermarket en femme and solo for the first time. I want to sort out my passport and driving licence, and that involves getting pictures done. The shop has one of those machines with the spinny stools.
I was pretty nervous at this point. I blogged a few days ago how going out en femme in a big city or another country with someone else is completely different to doing it in your home town on your own.
But I pushed myself and I did it. As soon as I got to the door, I saw my nosy next-door neighbour coming out of it with her kids. GREAT!
To be fair, she’s a complete lefty and I think she’d be cool about me being trans, but it wasn’t the time to tell her – I was feeling utterly drained – so I turned away and headed inside a minute later. She’d not seen me.
I went in, made eye contact with no-one, got the photos done (I love how the passport photo machine adds about 2st to your weight!) and walked out, getting into my car and driving back home. Nobody died, nobody shouted anything, nobody cared.
I parked up, got out of the car and then saw my ex’s best friend walking towards me, only about 15ft away. OH, BRILLIANT!
Again, I wasn’t really up for chit-chat, so I just pretended I’d not seen her (no idea if she saw me or not) and headed home.
And that, dear reader, is where we’re up to. I suppose you could say that, apart from being born, this is the biggest day of my life to date. And it couldn’t really have gone much better.
I called my Mum and spoke to her, and she was making very positive noises. Despite having her doubts at first, she’s been really supportive and cool of late. My sister has her concerns over the DVT thing, but I guess that’s just cos she cares. I’m in safe hands, little sis. Chill!
Despite feeling knackered, I feel excited and really happy. There are no doubts that this is the right thing to do. It’s definitely the right thing to do.