transition

All posts tagged transition

Week 93 – Day 2 : On the home run!

Published November 24, 2015 by Katier Scott

Sorry I have been quiet, I have been going through a period of ill health and as a result I have found it difficult to motivate and find things to write about.

I am definitely on the mend, although definitely not fixed, however I had probably the most important appointment yet, today, so absolutely had to write a blog post to update you.

This afternoon I visited the Northamptonshire Gender Clinic in Daventry for the second opinion consultation for Gender Re-assignment Surgery. This appointment has been a long time coming so I was definitely a little nervous, as such my mum came with me just in case it went wrong. It was a new Gender Clinic (my third), and a one-off appointment, so I was feeling the pressure.

In the event, I need not worry, the consultant was brilliant and, unlike some previous consultants had done a lot of reading up of my notes. As such I sailed through the assessment, and he even dictated a referral letter while I was there.

So that’s it, I have my two referrals for Gender Re-Assignment surgery and hopefully at some point, if I’m lucky in the summer, I will be down in Brighton having the most significant moment of my life.

It’s been an incredibly long journey, well over 5 years altogether and I really can’t thank many people for their help and support enough.

My Parents and Siblings have been incredibly supportive throughout, attending appointments, giving me tips and buying me clothes.

My Children are all fantastic, they are brilliant kids and accept me for who I really am. It’s been incredibly tough for them and I love them so much!

My Ex has done a fantastic job looking after my kids and coping with everything, the fact we’re still amicable is something I am very grateful for!

Lastly but not least my friends, I am so incredibly lucky to have some amazing friends, I appreciate every one of them. They’ve been there for me through tough times, given me advice, helped me be a better person and made a long journey so much easier.

A huge thank you to you all, you all mean so much to me.

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.

Week 52 – Day 3 : Year 2 – Day 2 : Onto the second year on hormones.

Published February 19, 2015 by Katier Scott

It’s a shame I was so busy yesterday to miss the anniversary of starting hormones but I simply didn’t have time yesterday. Time.. a theme of my life at the moment. I simply don’t appear to have any, and I should be starting my second job soon which is good. It’s been a slow process due to new recruitment procedures at the company but I spoke to them earlier this week and had emails off them today so it’s all making progress for which I am very happy.

University wise it looks likely I will only have on choice to go to after Staffordshire rejected me earlier in the week. It’s not really a problem, however, as having done plenty of research and attended an open day for the one that has given me an offer, I’m happy with my choice and even if the one remaining University do ultimately offer me a place, most likely, I will go to the offer I have in my hand as it’s most convenient.

Unfortunately the start of the second year doesn’t start with good news on the transition front. Spoke to the gender clinic today and they hadn’t yet discussed my case. So looks unlikely that I will hear anything until my appointment in the middle of the month. That’s more than a little frustrating although given the existing appointment would probably be needed regardless it’s something I can cope with. The critical thing is that we’re tight for time. My University course will, subject to DBS and health checks, which hopefully will be straight forward, start in the middle of January 2016. Ideally to get the full ‘book’ 3 months off I’d need surgery no later than first week in November, although reading peoples experiences as long as we give at least 8 weeks I should be fine, so can push into late November.

I’m getting really excited about the change in career, so 2015 is definitely looking to be a year where I do a lot of preparation, and of course have a book to write. So far, including the introduction I’m over 3000 words which is a good solid start, but I’m sure I’ll need at least 15 times that by the end!

Anyway that’s it for this week, quite short for me – which makes a change!

Week 50 : Day 6 – Bonus Edition!

Published February 7, 2015 by Katier Scott

Just a quick update following on from yesterday. The promised part 3 is still planned and will get posted later today but I wanted to give you all an update.

Firstly I spoke to my GP yesterday after posting and she is completely on board and is going to speak to the Gender Clinic. Interestingly she is going to, on top of probably the tack I was taking, bring in all the raw facts about my transition. The fact I’ve been transitioning for closing in on 5 years, been in the GIC waiting list/treatment pathway for nearly 4 of those, the fact I’ve been very patient. Plus the simple things like the fact that a GIC has never requested me do anything and always given me treatment at the earliest opportunity – thus delays now have no good reasoning behind them.

Secondly I think I’m going with plan B for the book. Everyone I’ve spoken to seemed drawn to it and I’d started to get quite tempted by it. There are a few reasons for this but the main one is the fact that transition starts when your born, so I think writing about myself throughout my life will be an interesting exersize and a lot more interesting to the readers. Indeed I think it’ll make the book a lot more personal and when I thought about it yesterday I realised that it was not unlike Richard Hammond’s book. Although the book was triggered by his accident, and a decent portion of the book was about his life up to getting onto top gear and I think that makes the book a lot more interesting.

Thirdly I’ve got an offer for University!! I have 3 irons in the fire still for alternative University but the fact I have a firm offer on the table is HUGE and something that had me bouncing off the walls yesterday! It was such a relief after two years of struggle to get promotion to work to have something so positive. My second job as a home care worker was a great relief but didn’t feel so big as a Mental Health Nursing application is not just taken on qualifications but also interview and personal specification. There are limited places and they need to be confident you’ll make a good nurse. The home care workers are in major short supply, so there is no competition for places, just a case of whether your appointable or not. It’s a great confidence boost to go to another company but the University offer is just massive for me. It’s hard to portray just how much it means to me, I can’t wait!!

Week 50 – Day 5 : Bumps in the Road (Part 1)

Published February 6, 2015 by Katier Scott

I’ve decided to split this weeks post into three parts as I feel it’s going to be easy to read and give me feedback on. On the subject of feedback I really would appreciate thoughts and feedback on, especially, the first two posts. If you wouldn’t mind sharing them around too via whatever medium you found me by that would be really appreciated. I don’t normally ask, people will come here via whatever means because they find the blog interesting, however I have a few things to talk about that I’d really appreciate some feedback and thoughts on.

Porterbrook Gender Clinic in Sheffield have up to now been very good to me, with very prompt appointments and while their procedures are a little antiquated up to now I haven’t complained because compared to other clinics their appointment times are superb. Generally 4-6 weeks, no more than 8 between appointments compared to 4-6 months or more for Charing Cross for instance.

As such their insistence on seeing me four times before putting me on T-blockers etc. I tolerated as it was still only around 6 months of appointments which I could cope with. I then received an appointment to see a consultant I hadn’t seen before which as they know I’m talking about surgery was fine by me. It would be one of the two I needed, Dr Shetty would provide the other – jobs a goodun…

Unfortunately Dr Shetty then phoned me to tell me the appointment was ‘in error’ and that he would have to see me then they would refer me to Leeds for a s.. hang on Leeds? What?

It turns out that, I’m guessing on the back of the old PCT agreements not only do their initial assessments not follow NHS guidelines which stipulate 2 assessments before hormones or other treatment, not the 4 they do, but they also currently send you off to another GIC, which is even further from home to the tune of at least another hours travelling and £10-15 in petrol, but they have.. wait for it.. WAITING TIMES!!

Given the aforementioned guidelines only mentioned ‘a consultant not directly involved in your primary care’ and that CHX, Nottingham and I’d guess at least Sunderland all do their second consultation internally, then there would seem to be no reason for them not to use the consultant I’ve yet to meet as the second consultation.

On top of that I was also told that they won’t refer until I’ve been on their books 12 months. Given most patients arrive ‘fresh’ on their system that would be entirely reasonable, if a little rigid. However in my case I’ve been in the NHS GIC pathway for 20 months now, full time for 4.5 years and the guidelines state ’12 months RLE for surgery’ – they don’t even mention hormones which is slightly off, but that’s irrelevant.

I have no problem with things like 12 months RLE, hormones for 12 months etc. – they are entirely reasonable timescales to ensure that you are comfortable with the changes etc. – however delays for the sake of the delays ‘because that’s how we always do it’ are definitely in my opinion unacceptable, and making twice as hard for me to plan for my future because rather than squeezing surgery in before training to be a nurse, assuming I get an offer of course, I’m faced with a very uncertain time scale.

I’m waiting for a phone call from my GP to discuss a way forward as while I don’t want to unduly rock the boat, I do want to fight delays for the sake of delay – time delays.

However I’d also like your guys thoughts, hence the initial paragraph, what do you think?

Week 46 – Bonus Edition : The power of Photography.. oh and Nursing.

Published January 7, 2015 by Katier Scott

Selfies (5 of 8)

Any of you who read my posts over the New Year will recognise that above photograph, and wonder why it’s making another appearance. Well this photo is now my new profile image everywhere, When I changed it on FB I garnered 45 likes in a matter of just a few hours, something I hadn’t expected simply because, firstly I don’t post with any expectations, but secondly because it was a profile image change so that made it even likely – in my eyes – to be liked.

As the likes poured in I took another look at the photo and realised that, in fact, it’s a damned nice photo – I look good in it, the post is nice and it’s reasonably well composed. The only minor blemish might be the cropped shoe but as it’s a self portrait I think I can be forgiven for that.

What this photo ultimately has done is given me a lot of positive vibes and made me realise that good photos of yourself are worth their weight in gold. This is because they can make YOU feel good about yourself. So I’d encourage you all to get some good quality photographs taken of yourself. Not necessarily by a professional, but definitely not the classic Mirror/phone selfie style. Either use a tripod and self timer or someone else to operate the camera – even if it’s just a friend – then SHARE, put it on FB, spread them out – I’m sure you’ll get genuine positive feedback and feel good about it.

The other news I thought I’d stick into this post is the fact I have decided to apply to become a Mental Health Nurse – huge change from my current job and means a return to study for 3 years, but my current job is very stagnant and effectively low paid, so I need a career where I have a better chance of career and reasonable wages.

I’ve got my first interview as part of the selection process in February and have applied to three Universities in total.

My last piece of quick news is I have my appointment for my first consultation about getting referred to surgery. The appointment is later this month and I will, of course, let you know how it goes.

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.