So recently, the Independent decided to write an article about DIY transitioners. A chemist based in Essex sent out medications normally restricted to prescription only, without proof of age or medical need. This, to the Independent, has sparked fear and concern, and caused a lot of controversy on Twitter. A bunch of trans people are outraged about how The Independent have handled this story, and are worried that their only method of getting these medications currently could be in vain.
I don’t really agree with DIY transitioning, its not the ideal way of doing it. Therapy can help you work out your issues and decide whether you want to transition or not, and transitioning shouldn’t really be done without medical supervision. There are serious complications which can occur if a doctor isn’t guiding the process. Whether we like the system or not in the UK, the NHS is along the right tracks of how to handle trans people.
By no means do I think its good enough though. Here’s (generally) how the process goes. You go to your GP, you ask for a referral. You are then referred to one of the 8 gender clinics in the country – if you live far away from that, then its on you to pay for travel there. Which isn’t much of an issue since it can take up to about 6 months to even get a response from clinics that they have acknowledged your referral. Let alone actual appointments. So you’ve got plenty of time to save the £80 it can cost for train tickets in the UK.
Friends of mine said the waiting list at Charing Cross was 2 years – for the first appointment. Once you get your first appointment and attend it, you’re likely to have repeat appointments, once every month or so, longer if the clinic is a particularly busy one. Eventually, you are through what’s known as “phase 1”, the psychotherapy phase. Around a year after you started, you begin phase 2. Which can still take several months up to a year, depending on how busy the clinic is, to get a prescription for your medication.
Personally? I got fed up after phase 1 and getting my diagnosis and running out of money. I could no longer afford to get to my clinic and that caused them to close the doors of support to me. There was no way they would at all accept monitoring my health in cooperation with my GP. Despite both me and my GP suggesting this. Instead it was either attend the clinic, or go solo, and I chose to go solo. Which is super risky, I’m not monitored and it scares me every day that something is going to go wrong, or that I’m not getting the best treatment I could get. But I can’t afford the travel to the clinics, and I wouldn’t go back to the one that treated me so badly anyway – they do not have my best interests at heart.
I fought this issue as hard as I could through the complaints system, through the Health Ombudsman, and I got nothing in return. Why? Because there is literally no way you can force a GP to prescribe medication to someone. Not because I was wrong in that I should be prescribed the medication for the condition I was diagnosed with, not because I was wrong that they could’ve done it if they wanted to. Just that there is no way to force that. Which, I can agree with. Doctors should make doctor-y decisions about their doctoring, nobody else.
Every few months I try getting my GPs to help me. I even message other GPs from other surgeries asking if any of them would consider helping me. I have a diagnosis, I’m fully transitioned and “living in role”. I just want to stop paying £500/year for my medication, that I should be able to walk up to my local chemist with my prescription for and pay the usual prescription prices. I should be able to go to my GP and have my health properly monitored, but they have made it very clear they do not want to help me without the help gender specialists – who also refuse to help me unless I go to their clinics which are 150 miles away minimum. I couldn’t afford it before, and although I have more money now, I can’t afford it now because I’m paying so much for the privilege of ‘self medication’.
So I DIY transition, because its the only option I have left and The Independent want to threaten that? Fuck you dudes. DIY transitioning must not be closed down, not until we can secure positions in clinics for all potential trans people, not until we can guarantee that they will be able to attend it, even if they can’t afford it themselves. Not until we have GPs who aren’t conservative as heck and refuse to help you because they don’t believe in transsexualism.
I plan to write another piece on the trash written by The Independent that is far more factual rather than anecdotal. I’ll link it here when I do, so please watch this space. Thank you for reading, and the mad amounts of support you (possibly) give me on Twitter. 🙂
ps: If you’d like to share your story, I’d love to collate them into a big report to send back to the NHS and Independent. I’ve heard about 150 accounts before did nothing, lets see if we can top that eh?