FtM

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Week 82 – Day 4 : What’s expected of me?

Published September 11, 2015 by Katier Scott

I’ve seen several posts of this ilk from people who are about to go through treatment for Gender Identity Disorder GID. They are naturally nervous about the whole process and unsure what to expect. Also, while things have improved, myth and rumour still exist. On top of there there’s the confusion of terms and what they mean, why do I use GID and not ‘trans’ related terms?

Gender Identity Disorder

So I’ll start at the ‘top’, what is Gender Identity Disorder and it’s closely related cousin, Gender Dysphoria (GD)?

GID is simply a medical condition where the brain’s gender doesn’t match that of the body. Generally this is simply the brain is gendered male, and the body female, or the other way round. But some people feel more androgynous about their gender and thus may consider themselves ‘no gender’ or maybe they switch genders depending on the situation. All this people can be considered to have GID, as their ‘Mental’ Gender Identity is in Disorder with their physical one. Current medical research points to GID occurring in the womb, during any babies development they all start as a female, regardless of the DNA, the body initial develops in a female shape. At some point in the development, hormones and other chemicals trigger the body and brain to ‘gender’. It is two separate sets of chemical signals that cause this and thus if one signal fails for some reason, then you get GID.

GID has different feelings for different people and this is one reason why gender is considered to be fluid, these days, and not simply male/female. People with severe GID may also develop GD, which is a mental condition where they are massively uncomfortable with their bodies and thus GD can trigger other conditions such as anxiety and depression. Hence while GID is absolutely NOT a mental condition, the fact it’s generally treated by Mental Health is a good thing because while the condition itself isn’t mental, it can definitely cause people to have mental health issues.

GID is treated by changing the persons physical body to match that of the gender of their brain, using hormones and surgery. For MtF it’s oestrogen and testosterone blockers, for FtM the reverse. Hormones have the effect of causing fat to be redistributed to gender appropriate parts, e.g. onto the hips on a female, body hair to become gender appropriate, I believe it changes your body odour, can help reverse Male Pattern Baldness (or cause for FtM) and causes breast growth for MtF and Beards for FtM. Surgery is considered optional but if done consists of the following :-

For Male to Female patients :

  • Vagioplasty, or the non vagina variant – i.e. the groin area is given surgery to make it physically look female, and a working vagina may be created – this is optional depending on the wishes of the patient.
  • Breast enhancement – I believe this is treated exactly as for any other female.
  • Feminine Facial reconstruction – Feminising of the face.
  • Laser/electrolysis hair removal – while not technically ‘surgery’ it is a medical procedure needed to remove beards.

For Female to Male patients

  • Penal construction – this is improving, but something that I believe is less common than Vagioplasty’s.
  • Mastectomy – this is the ‘big operation’ for men, as it makes their chest area appear for more masculine and removes the need for binders.
  • There may be other FtM medical procedures I’m not aware of, but these are the main two.

Transgender/Transexual

So that’s the medical side covered, I don’t use the terms ‘Transgender’ or ‘Transexual’ because I feel they are heavily mis-used, a bit antiquated, and harder to understand. It’s easy to explain it as a medical condition, but Transgender and Transexual can easily appear to be a fetish or similar, and that results in misunderstanding and confusion. Transgender is meant to be an overall term for all people who have some form of preference that sits outside of the ‘gender norm’, so that includes cross-dressers, transvestites, drag queens, anyone who while they consider themselves their birth gender, enjoy elements of the other gender – plus those who have GID.. confusing much? Transsexual is underused and is the term that SHOULD be used when referring to anyone with GID, but because I don’t see it used, but instead the confusing transgender term is used, I think both terms need to be assigned to history. A new term can be used for those who are ‘gender variant’ and simply use GID for those with GID. Simplez!!

Gender Clinics

OK so what are Gender Clinics looking for?

Well being a condition that, while not a ‘mental illness’ is still a ‘mental’ condition, it’s not something you can simply take a blood test and diagnose, so Gender Clinics expect to see you taking on ‘norms’ for your gender. It can feel like a box-ticking exercise, but truth be known all they are expecting you to do is live life the same as anyone else of your gender.

So to make this easy to understand I’m going to create a fictional character, I’ll use a MtF lady called Mary. Any likenesses to anyone are 100% co-incidental and everything is based on my own knowledge gained, based on my own experiences and things I’ve read or been told.

Mary is somewhat of a recluse, she’s nervous about going at ‘as Mary’ in public, and when she does tends to have just had a shave roughly brush her slightly receding hair, and put on gender neutral clothes with no effort to try to ‘feminise’ her appearance through things like fake boobs. She is also unemployed and if she does go out as Mary to social settings it is with Transgender groups or to LGBT venues.

The Gender Clinic aren’t happy they are seeing Mary actually taking on a female gender role in a form that makes them happy she actually has GID. So they request she tries to get a job, or voluntary work, and works on her appearance through the use of fake breasts, more feminine clothing – they also suggest she sees someone for make-up tips – NOTE: Makeup doesn’t have to be much, I often go to appointments just with foundation on, but you need something to hide beard shadow. Mary hasn’t changed her name or documents either, so they also request she does so through a deed poll and presents them at the next appointment.

They talk and find out that Mary used to enjoy walking, but hasn’t done this for a while so they suggest she finds a walking group and joins them.

All the gender clinic are asking is for her to start actually living and socialising as a woman, contrast that to my first appointment. I arrived, dressed in jeans and a female cut top, wearing simple make-up and a wig (as I have male pattern baldness). I was socialising at the local open Mic and had both a job, and was doing voluntary work. At my second appointment, 6 months later, they put me on Hormones, and this blog was born.

I wasn’t doing anything ‘clever’ or special, I was simply getting on with life and doing things I enjoyed with people who fast became friends. That’s all a Gender Clinic wants to see, you living your life in a role typical for your gender. Gender Clinic’s have never asked me to do anything, because they’ve always been happy that I was doing that. I also transitioned before I got to the gender clinic. As soon as I moved out from my ex-wife, I immediately switched genders, changed my name as quickly as possible and all associated documents. My new bank account was in female gender and I presented as female immediately, and non-stop since. This meant when I got to the Gender Clinic in July 2013, I had already being living as myself for three years, so they really didn’t have any issues.

Contrast that to Mary, or even someone who turns up (for example) presenting Male, then Changes to Female when at the Gender Clinic, and you can see the contrast. Now don’t get me wrong, everyone’s situation is different, we have different levels of support (I’ve been super lucky in that my family has always been supportive and my best friend at Uni has stuck with me throughout) – friends may or may not stick with you, but ultimately everyone has control of what they do.

It is incredibly tough, my transition since moving out has been a long journey, but at least I’ve had support. But if your married, having kids, unsupportive family – it’s incredibly tough, and takes a strong person to make the switch.. but ultimately at some point you have to say ‘enough’s enough’ this is what I am, and I need to live that way. If you can do that before arriving at a Gender Clinic it’ll make things a lot smoother, but certainly isn’t essential.

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Week 81 – Day 4 : On Holiday

Published September 3, 2015 by Katier Scott

IMAG0418 As regular readers of this blog know I started it for a number of reasons, but centre to them all was an appreciation that, despite the fact my journey has not been anything like straightforward, indeed some of my friends who started transitioning before me are post-op, I am incredibly lucky.

As such I wanted to share my journey when I started hormones in the hope that people in a similar situation might not feel quite so along, and also to educate and inform anyone and everyone about the simple fact that people with Gender Identity Disorder are people and we live life as best we can, but have challenges on the way.

Throughout this journey for me I’ve been ticking little boxes, things that women do ‘normally’, or just doing things for me, and in process hopefully giving other people with GID and similar inspiration and belief that they can get on and be themselves.

This week, and part of the reason for missing a blog entry last week, was very much centred on the fact I went on holiday for the first time in as long as I can remember. I have been to LARP events recently, but because I crew them they aren’t a relaxing ‘holiday’ more a weekend spent doing something I enjoy and get something out of. My last proper holiday took place prior to me being able to stand up in a tent is fantastic and bell tents are just brilliant tents.

The photo is taken on the first evening but summed up the weather for most of the holiday, we had overnight rain on the first night, early morning rain on the second morning and it was cloudy and a bit rainy on the final morning which prompted a quick departure as I’m a biker, didn’t fancy a lot of rain.

The holiday was really enjoyable, chilled and just so relaxing. The campsite owners were fantastic, welcoming, friendly, eager to help and make youIMAG0423 feel welcome. I went to Caernafon which was lovely and definitely will see a repeat visit, Portmadog was disapointing, Beddgelert absolutely gorgeous. Did a lot of walking and finished up on the beach.

The beach was just gorgeous as you can see from the picture to the right and despite a stiff breeze the sun was just fighting a winning battle. Especially when I got amongst the dunes further along the beach where I ticked another of those little boxes. I wondered through the dunes for a bit with just a bikini top on my upper half. I was never really someone who walked around topless prior to transitioning, however it’s something I wanted to tick and was really nice to be able to walk along with the sun on my body.. sunbathing next!!

When I got back from my holiday I then contacted Northampton GIC and they confirmed my GP had sent the kind of information they needed, and had put me on the waiting list for an appointment. Apparently they send them out 6 weeks in advance and I was able to get confirmation that they may see me as soon as November, and should definitely see me this year. This should mean surgery sometime next summer which while a year later than I hoped at least is positive and a light at the end of the tunnel, which after my last blog post much needed!!

Week 78 – Day 7 : Oh dear.. oh dear..

Published August 16, 2015 by Katier Scott

This weeks blog was triggered by this photo that one of my friends shared on facebook. The photo can be found here and on the face of it looks innocent.. until you read the text. The photo was posted by a proud father who’s son, Beau, was born with a condition called Fibular Hemimelia which resulted in him having to have both his feet amputated.

Obviously that has caused Beau’s life to be not as straightforward as for anyone with feet, and he seems to face adversity strongly and with a brave face. But when you read a bit deeper you realise that Beau is facing many problems, all be it caused by a different problem, that anyone with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) faces.. so it was very unfortunate that Jason chose to blight what could have been a wonderful ‘I’m proud about my son’ post by roundly being critical about Caitlyn Jenner getting a reward for Courage.

Not only did Jason question the award, but he refused to refer to Jenner as anything other than Male and using her former name. In doing so he instantly showed by Jenner’s award was so deserved,  by choosing to be so public with her transition Jenner immediately opened herself to criticism, transphobia (as displayed by Jason) and bullying.

All people who are born with disorders, or who develop them in life, which cause them to be different from the ‘crowd’ face very similar adversity, including acceptance, discrimination, bullying, harassment, fear and just the general struggle to try to broadly fit into the crowd. In that respect Beau is no different to Caitlyn, or as Beau is a child, any of the many children and young people struggling with conditions, be it GID,  Fibular Hemimelia, Deafness or any other condition.

Both this blog, and the work Caitlyn is doing through being so public in her transition is simply trying to educate, and sadly it’s not an easy job. As Jason proves, you’d think someone who’s son is facing so much adversity might actually empathise with someone who has GID, but I guess because it’s not a physical ‘disorder’ then he doesn’t belive it exists.. so I’ll leave a few thoughts.

ADHD? Epilepsy? ASD?

Yep all exist, but are ‘invisible’ conditions and so does GID.. but there’s a way of flipping round GID and realising it ‘can’ exist and that is the fact there is a ‘physical’ problem that can easily result in Gender Dysphoria (which is when GID is actually causing mental problems as the person really isn’t comfortable with their body), that condition is ‘Intersexed’.

Intersexed is when the physical genitals of a person are of BOTH genders, the chances are the brain, however, is of one or the other gender, and worse, often surgery is performed early on to make the baby a single gender.. get it wrong and that child instantly has in effect Gender Identity Disorder and almost certainly will be Dysphoric..

So if things can go wrong obviously with the physical make-up of a body, and we know the brain must be gendered in some way, otherwise you wouldn’t have female and male characteristics in the way people act, and we know Mental Health conditions exist – there is absolutely no reason what-so-ever why Gender Identity Disorder can’t exist!

The fact of the matter is, of course, that is does exist – but because it’s totally invisible it’s easy to dismiss it at something it isn’t – however it’s a proven medical condition and researchers even are pretty sure how it happens.

For those who are still with me, when you are developing in the womb everyone starts off female. It’s actually chemical/hormonal triggers that cause a female body to change gender to male, at the same time, other chemicals will trigger the gender change in the brain to whatever it should be. So for a female, the only chemical trigger is to ‘set’ the brain, in a male two triggers go off, one for the body, one of the brain. If any of those triggers, for whatever reason, don’t go off properly, that’s how Gender Identity Disorder happens.

Now I should add, that I have absolutely no issue with the concept that some people have that gender is just a fluid, natural, flexible entity. The point I’m making above, however, is the strict medical definition, however if you see gender variance as natural that’s absolutely fine. But when educating, or informing, working on something tangible such as above, should make it a whole lot easier to understand.

Week 75 – Day 4 : ‘Hearts not Parts’

Published July 23, 2015 by Katier Scott

You might recall, back in April, me talking about the loss of a 15 year old, young Roller Derby player, Sam Taub, a loss that effected me quite strongly simply because I connected with him in a way I never expected. More recently the Roller Derby community lost another of their youngsters when a 14 year old skater lost her fight with Depression – both these incidents saddened me, we shouldn’t be loosing young people with bright futures, at this age. We shouldn’t have to be fighting against discrimination and we need to look after our young people – when I qualify as a Mental Health Nurse in around 3-4 years time, I most definitely would like to work to help these people who should be getting every bit of support they need.

But the reason Sam’s story has resurfaced was a fantastic speech by Caitlyn Jenner. Now I’m not someone who particularly follows celebrities, especially when it comes to their lifes especially, let them live them. But Jenner has come out very publicly, and, having listened to her speech I realise she’s using her celebrity to raise awareness, she’s clearly someone who’s grounded and understands the problems people with GD and/or GID face, alongside those who identify somewhere under the Transgender umbrella. During her speech, which was for a well deserved courage award, Jenner mentioned three people, two by name, one of whom was Sam.

This unsurprisingly raised awareness of what happened back in April as many news outlet’s who may have missed the initial story, or ran it at a low profile, suddenly started digging and the result has been a series of fantastically supportive articles in which the result is I so want to fly to Detroit and give Sam’s Dad, Geoff Taub a huge hug. For someone who must be still struggling with the loss of his son, the quotes have been from a very brave and tough person. I already had a lot of respect for Geoff after comments he’d made in response to articles in the Roller Derby community, but his recent quotes are of a very brave person.

One quote really hit home, however. I’d seen Geoff mention it before, but in light of conversations I’ve had with people recently the quote, which was made by Sam Taub when he first told his dad who he really was. Sam said, Dad, “it’s Hearts not Parts” and today really hit home for me.

I am having my little battle with the Gender Clinic to sort out surgery, it’s a battle that appears to be on the home stretch but it’s unlikely I’ll have surgery for another year.. but while I was there chatting to the receptionist I told her how, for me, this whole GIC journey was purely about fixing the ‘parts’ – but ultimately for me it’s what my Heart (well brain) said, I didn’t feel I was transitioning, I transitioned the day I moved into my new flat after splitting with my ex. From that day on my life has been lived as ‘hearts, not parts’ – the parts cause me issues, things like changing rooms primarily are still an issue, however ultimately it’s sorting a few minor things – I live my life as me, what my heart says, not what my ‘parts’ are.

What really moved me, and it’s so sad to hear it still happening, is the story of another trans person who recently mentioned they were having to live as their wrong gender. Speaking to them, despite the trans-person being an adult (gender withheld for maximum anonymity), their parents were clearly not from the Geoff Taub mould of parenting. They can’t seperate the ‘parts’ from the ‘heart’ and worse, are worried about the ‘appearance’ of having a trans-person as their child. I’ve been fortunate, my parents, and family, have all been hugely supportive, heart is what matters, and the fact I’m much more happy, living a much more fulfilling life, and am hugely fortunate – means they are very happy for me.. it’s about Hearts, not Parts, folks.

Which brings me to this blog and my book, I really hope people who might not understand, read it and realise that life is very much about heart, about loving your kids, helping them and supporting them – not about the parts. It’s tough, many supportive parents have mentioned how they went through a grieving process, it needs patience on the part of the person who is living as their correct gender, and sadly as Sam shows, it’s not always enough – but we need to love and care for our kids, show it doesn’t matter what Gender they really are, what their sexuality they are and that they need to be taken seriously and given the treatment and support they need. They don’t need to be forced to live as the wrong gender, have their things thrown out, be forced to undergo degrading and pointless ‘curative therapy’ as happened to  Leelah Alcorn.

All our young people need love, support, and access to the right services in a supportive environment, we are losing too many of our young people, and it shouldn’t be happening. Remember folks, it’s Hearts not Parts, give all your kids all the support they need, be compassionate, caring and supportive – and allow them access to all the services they need and deserve. It’s not their fault they are GD/GID, Depressed, Gay, or whatever else, give them all the love and support they deserve.

Week 71 – Day 3 : Going back to basics.

Published July 2, 2015 by Katier Scott

A friend of mine recently put someone in contact with me to see if I could help her as she was just starting her real life and they felt that talking to someone who had been through it all before might help. The whole ethos behind this blog has been one of education and helping, so the idea of people actually contacting me directly is something I’ve always been happy to do and I’ve spent time chatting and advising a few people who were just starting living as themselves.

In this case the person I spoke to told me they were lacking in confidence and I know this is far from uncommon and while writing my reply, I realised my blog probably needed a ‘refresher’ post. A repost along the lines of something done before but when a blog it well over a year old and contains getting on for 100 posts, I think it’s fair to occasionally re-examine subjects.

In this case it’s my thoughts and advice for any of you who may be going out as your correct gender for the first time. As I am female, it’s from a female perspective, however some of the advice will work with all genders and I know men have their own level of challenges. To that end if any men with GID do want to write a guest blog in a similar vein to this blog entry I’d more than welcome it.

The following represents the advice I gave, rather than edit it I think it works as a ‘reply’ and will hopefully help more people who are finding confidence a problem when starting their journey.

Occasionally you might get ‘read’ and get a disparaging comment “Is that a man?” but in day to day life that’s the worst that’s happened to me and I can’t remember the last time I had that kind of response.

I think the key is understanding how to make co-ordinated outfits, how to do basic make-up (which is simple – a lot of the time I just wear foundation, sometimes with a bit of eyeshadow, unless going out of course) – and trying to judge what to wear when.

If you wear something that stands out it automatically attracts attention, which can cause negative reactions – BUT – it doesn’t mean you have been ‘read’ – Recently in a 1940/50’s group a lady posted about a reaction she got in a supermarket, a couple of ‘chav’s’ spotted her in a beautiful vintage style dress, beautifully dressed and she got a negative comment. The comment shouldn’t have happened, but she sadly got it because she stood out from the crowd.

It’s not ‘just’ a ‘trans’ problem, can happen to anyone, but a lot of transwomen early in their lives make the mistake of trying to ‘dress like a woman’ and make the mistake of over doing it. A woman is most likely to go to a supermarket wearing jeans, t-shirt and flat shoes – not a short skirt and heels!!

If your walking down the street with confidence in a ‘typical’ outfit then honestly your likely to be as safe as any other woman.

Confidence is a huge thing, I have always just walked down the street the same as I always have, with confidence and purpose. Some areas even now I’m a little nervy – loos for instance – but never had an issue in them!! Quite the opposite, especially in night clubs and similar places I’ve just been treated like one of the girls – which is exactly what you want, however it’s by no means guaranteed.

In my experience such fears are unfounded and the truth of the matter is that most people are accepting without issues. Just remember that if you dress in a manner that stands out the chances of someone making a comment go up, but also remember that getting comments may just mean they are treating you like any other woman. It’s a sad, and definitely unwanted, fact that woman do receive cat calls, wolf whistles and other inappropriate calls, and as such don’t assume that anything shouted in your direction is ‘trans related’ – if your dressed in a manner that clearly identifies you as female (which could just be a nice skirt and top) men WILL on occasion act inappropriately around you.

It’s sad, it shouldn’t happen, but I firmly believe that many ‘trans’ women don’t realise so take any calling as transphobic.. often they aren’t. Indeed I remember once walking to a local bar which, unfortunately took me through the red light district, one guy took a fancy to me and crossed the road – it was only when I spoke to tell him I wasn’t interested, that he realised I had GID.. unfortunately that just made things worse as he had a fantasy about going with a ‘transperson’, and it was definitely a hugely uncomfortable experience.. but it was made uncomfortable because I was a woman.. simple as that.

Anyway that’s it for this week, I hope some of you found this weeks blog useful.

Week 68 : Day 6 – Successful complaint

Published June 13, 2015 by Katier Scott

I’ll cut to the chase, I won.. well won is probably strong but my complain against Porterbrook clinic was successful, although interestingly the major point of my complain was successful due to a point I didn’t make!!

I had a formal apology for them mis-handling my transfer from CHX as they shouldn’t have re-assessed me, this they admint ‘probably’ delayed my moving onto T-blockers, although it didn’t effect my Hormones. Hopefully this has raised their awareness of the issue at the very least and any future transfers don’t have this delay in their treatment.

The second point I made was centred about delays in my second opinion appointment for surgery and again they agreed that Porterbrook was at fault, although not exactly on the grounds I gave them. I guess this might have been because part of my complaint was surrounding future delays, rather than actual delays. They said that agreed that there are actual delays and that’s good, but also, and more importantly, have put in place a plan to limit any future delays.

Essentially they told me that Porterbrook, being one of the smaller clinics in the UK, discusses all patients in meetings with all consultants, so even if you don’t see a particular consultant apparently they can’t be considered to be ‘independent’ for the purposes of clinical referrals for surgery. The fact they can do it for hormones (which also needs two referrals in effect) does make this slightly strange, however, and if any medical professionals who read this would like to comment I’m all ears.

However it turns out that currently Porterbrook only do referrals for surgery every 3 months, which means my first referral won’t go through until this month, 4 months (or near enough 18 weeks) since I had been on hormones for 12 months and thus falling outside the 18 week NHS contract. As part of a procedure update this week be reduced to a month for future patients, so that’ll help them, but for me the big ‘win’ is that they are going to contact all gender clinics and arrange an appointment as soon as possible. Obviously if this comes back as anything more than a few weeks I’ll be carrying on with the complaint as, because I’m currently on the treatment path, and it’s a single appointment for second opinion, it shouldn’t be subject to any waiting times commonly suffered by people waiting for their first appointments.

So while it’s not the end of the story, it shows complaints DO work and are worth doing, in the right situation. If you are going to complain I would look at two things. Firstly as to whether the complaint is sensible, if your complaining about waiting for your initial appointment, then it’s probably be better to be proactive and try to find somewhere with a shorter wait time. Secondly make sure you understand the grounds for your complaint and make sure you refer to the regulations, procedures and guidelines the NHS works to when making your complaint.

Saying ‘XYZ gender clinic is crap with horrible delays’ isn’t likely to get far, but make it a proper, well written, complaint with clear aims at what your trying to achieve through the complaint. Refer to the aforementioned procedures, include a run down of your life and treatment to the point, and  connect the dots so it’s clear what the basis of your complaint is. Also suggest solutions, and make them sensible, I suggested three, and Porterbrook came up with a 4th, if the timings for the 4th are ok, then that’s great, if not, then I can just go back to my suggestions and fight harder.

Week 46 – Day 2 : Patience…

Published January 6, 2015 by Katier Scott

The topic of this weeks blog came from thinking over my own transition, that of friends, and reflecting on the sad Story of Leelah Alcorn, that of a need for patience. The root cause of the situation Leelah found herself in was absolutely caused by Religion but I think this article answers that angle brilliantly, especially, the following paragraph.

“If you’re unwilling to raise, support, and affirm an LGBT child – you shouldn’t be having children. If you’re a Christian who has an LGBT child please affirm them for who God made them to be. Our sanctuaries should be safe havens for the Leelah Alcorn’s of the world. Let’s eradicate transphobia from our pulpit and our pews and make it so. Because God doesn’t make mistakes — we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

However if there is one message I think transpeople, especially those, as Leelah was, who feel very trapped, should take from it, it’s patience. I mentioned last week that my Dad referred to me as his Daughter for the first time, I’ve been very fortunate that my family are very supportive, but it still takes time for them to get used to it.

So there’s no point in getting wound up if people, especially family, who’ve known you for years, misgender you. If they are supportive then it’s just part of them getting used to it, give them time. It’s taken my family essentially 4-5 years to start getting my gender regularly right, and I’m sure that’s not atypical.

If they simply don’t accept, then have patience, give them time – having not been in that position I really am not in a position to give advice or thoughts on how to bring them onside, but time for me, has often been a healer, so as with the rest of this blog I’m sure Patience is a key factor.

But there’s another side to patience, and that’s where you feel trapped, or your transition is stalled for any reason. Leelah felt she’d never transition, however while it would undoubtedly would have been tough, I can’t help but think that if she’d managed to find a blog like this, or online friends to actually talk to, she’d have realised that she ultimately needed to be patient.

That isn’t to blame Leelah, not in the slightest, she was in a very tough situation, but had her whole life ahead of her, and it’s easy for anyone in a trapped situation, be it gender dysphoria, depression, grief, job/money worries etc., to think they’ll never escape – but give it time and most will.

But it’s tough, trying to look forward when all you can see is the same cage, is hard, but if you try to set your own timescales, if your, as Leelah was, an unaccepted young transperson, then don’t forget at 18-19 you have a lot more control over your life. Once you have a job, or are at University, you can consider controlling your own destiny.

It can seem like a  lifetime away, but few people live at home past their early 20’s and at that point there’s still a lifetime to live. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not pretending it’s easy, it damned well isn’t, however with a plan at least you have something to cling onto.

My transition hasn’t exactly been quick or entirely trouble free as it has taken essentially 10-12 years, I first started taking up a female role when I played Starwars Galaxies from 2003, initially playing a female entertainer because female felt right, then realising it was the ‘role’ I preferred so much so that I only ever had one more male character – who was hardly played because it didn’t feel ‘right’.

By the time I joined Secondlife in about 2005 I was starting to realise I was definitely female, and by 2007 I knew absolutely that I was – but I didn’t start transitioning properly until mid 2010. It took me until around May 2011 to finally get referred, only to get referred to the wrong GIC (I had requested Sheffield without realising I was stuck with CHX due to the PCT funding), that delayed things, get re-referred to CHX and didn’t get an appointment until July 2013. I was then cleared for Hormones in Jan 2014, finally starting them when this blog started 46 weeks ago.

While the GIC journey, once in the system, has been fairly smooth, but it’s required patience, and back in 2007 I really didn’t know when I’d be properly transitioning. I only finally managed to get going when my, already pretty battered, marriage fell apart and I moved out in 2010; but I didn’t know that was going to happen in 2007, although my marriage was struggling at that point, and I had additional considerations of my kids.

So when I mention patience, and trying to plan, well I definitely had to be patient, very patient, and really until my marriage collapsed I didn’t have a plan. My kids came first, and had done for many years, but if anything my own transition should highlight that patience can work.

Anyway I hope you find this weeks blog useful and will catch you all next week.