Today, September 7th, is the one-year anniversary of my referral by my GP to Nottingham GIC, or Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria as it’s called these days. I walked out of the doctors’ surgery feeling on top of the world – I’d finally taken the first step to becoming the real me. I’d never felt such excitement and optimism before. I was so happy.
I knew the wait would be long. If memory serves, my GP told me it would be four months before my first appointment. Then I noticed the GIC website said the wait was six months. OK, I thought, I’d waited 42 years – six months wasn’t too bad.
Then, having written to the centre, I was told the wait was actually a full year. This was seriously bad news, but I decided I’d try to stay positive, continuing my ballet, starting this blog, losing a little weight and becoming active as a trans person on Twitter.
So how did my first appointment go, you may wonder? HA! I’m still waiting. I haven’t even had my letter through yet – and apparently that’s supposed to come a month or so before the elusive first appointment. And now if you visit the Nottingham GIC website, you’ll see this little gem in the FAQs:
How long is the waiting list?
The waiting time varies, but generally the waiting time for a first appointment is around sixteen months.
Great! Thanks, NHS!
I’m friends on Twitter with a lovely lady called RachaelUnedited. She’s also from the Midlands and is also waiting for her first appointment with Nottingham GIC. In fact, she was referred a couple of months before me – and she’s still waiting for her letter, too.
This really isn’t good enough from the NHS. People are supposed to be seen within 18 weeks for any service under its umbrella – not 16 months. If you look at GICs like that in Leeds, the waiting time is THREE YEARS!
I’m lucky in that my gender dysphoria is nowhere near as bad as it is for some. As you know, I’m non-binary. I may not be “trans enough” to some, but at least I don’t get that awful feeling of being trapped at one end of the gender spectrum when I should be at the other.
So I’m not going to go and kill myself – but many trans people will. These waiting times are killing people, and that’s got to stop.
I asked Rachael if there was anyone I could complain to – maybe a patients’ forum or similar. But I was warned off doing that. Apparently, there are what are known in the trade as “gatekeepers” – people with the power to give you HRT or to withhold it. Naturally, I don’t want to upset such people – I’m worried enough as it is, being non-binary, that I may be denied estrogen and T-blockers.
And, besides, it’s not their fault. From what I’ve read online, the Nottingham team do a great job – it’s not down to them that the waiting lists are rising and rising. As people become more aware of trans issues and trans people (slowly) become more accepted by society, people like me feel more comfortable in transitioning than they may have done a few years back.
So what can you do to help? Well, you can sign this petition on the British Government’s website. At the time of writing, it has 5,239 signatures. It needs 10,000 for a Government response and 100,000 to be considered for debate in Parliament. Please, please sign! It only takes a few seconds.
I shall write more in my next post but, for now, stay happy, people.