Opinions on my Progress

Since the events of my last post life has been somewhat better, with several health appointments attended related to my transition almost 18 months ago to a happy-me… as well as an unremembered, but rather important, anniversary, which in terms of chronology is the first thing to mention – a year last mid-May was when my hormones were approved by the head consultant of the Northern Ireland GIC, which therefore means that I have completed my GIC-dictated Real Life Experience (RLE)! That anniversary meant that the next path of my journey in theory became available…  surgery! However, for the gate to that path to be opened, I was required to attend not one but two GIC appointments, called First and Second Opinions – these are where I am interviewed by gender specialist consultants to ascertain how I have progressed, if I am ready for the contemplation of surgery, and if I pass certain qualifying criteria.

Prior to me attending my First Opinion the GIC requested that they call someone at work (rather late in the day) to check things have gone okay… but also in a kind of big brother style to confirm that I have every day been turning up for work as Andrea, and not cheating. I arranged that they would call my boss, who expressed a preference for someone from Human Resources to also be on the call, so I asked for the lady I came out to first of all in HR to help – to cut a long story short, the call I gather was rather short, and all went very well.

My First Opinion appointment at GIC was on Tuesday 17th May. It was with a consultant I met one time previously, about 18 months ago, with my therapist there too. The consultant essentially went through what has happened since she last saw me – acceptances (or not, as remains the case with my daughter and brother), full-time living, work, friends, my social life, and so on, and the conversation was all very positive… and that is because that is how transition has been for me, I miss my daughter but it is what it is and there’s just no point in dwelling on it, otherwise all is good. She then asked “So how do you feel now?” and the first word that sprouted from my mouth was “Happy”… because that is finally how I truly feel about my life – ups and downs aside – where every day I feel right about myself. She also said I look very different now… and not just my own hair, so those in the know obviously notice the physical changes… and perhaps mental ones too.

My Second Opinion appointment at GIC was the Friday of that week and was in a somewhat similar vein to the first one… except that it was with someone I had never met before, a Dr Khoosal from Leeds. Perhaps I should have been a bit nervous, but not at all, no need to be when I’m simply being me… and Dr Khoosal was also very down-to-earth too. The nature of the conversation was very similar to the First Opinion really, except it also covered aspects of my early life too, when I first realised about my true self, and “why now”. All went well, and I expected that I’d be hearing back in perhaps a week or two about how things went… but there and then he said “Well I consider it a positive result” and so we shook hands, and I went off with my therapist to talk about the next steps… to eventual surgery! It won’t happen quickly, if only because of the admin, and application for funding, but that’s fine because there is plenty to think about with different options to consider… mainly, for me, muddled due to my intense loathing of the bits and pieces I was unfortunately born with which alas has almost resulted in me having such a phobia to them such that I want nothing to do with them in any way. To celebrate overcoming my latest hurdle I decided to treat myself to afternoon tea at M&S, brought to me by two waiting staff, followed by some clothes shopping… where my credit card was helped by a kind lady stopping me and offering a 20% off voucher.

The next day I met up with Kirsty in the afternoon for more shopping, mainly just a few pairs of trousers for work to accommodate my somewhat expanded girth (HRT, and perhaps chocolate, assisted) and also a pair of Sketchers trainers which, so far, have been probably the most comfortable pair of footwear I have bought. Then we went to dinner at a restaurant I have wanted to go to for, literally, AGES… and it was well worth the wait, the Mourne Seafood restaurant turned out to be splendid – I had a dreamy mackerel pate, a good sea bream main course, and a lovely chocolate fondant. The night was still young and we headed off to the cinema, where Kirsty had booked the only two tickets in what turned out to be a pretty packed cinema to see Our Kind Of Traitor, a pretty good spy thriller with the ever-present over-proliferation of unnecessary foul language but otherwise reasonable entertainment.

All in all, a pretty successful and good period… and feeling now closer to my ultimate destination.

10 thoughts on “Opinions on my Progress

  1. All positive progress, Andrea, and good to know all is going well. Your experience really does emphasise the ‘gatekeeper’ model of treatment though, and the need to constantly jump through other people’s hoops to get where you need to be. I particularly find the need to ‘check up on you’ at work distasteful and wholly unnecessary.

    • Although distasteful, I’m afraid I’d challenge the “wholly unnecessary” phrase, as Kirsty/Michelle/I know of someone who is certainly not wholly female whenever at work. While the hoop jumping is not so rigid in the early days of progress at GIC, medication and ultimately surgery are expensive and, more importantly, significantly life-changing and thus the hoops are to ensure commitment and comfort in this new life.

      • I would go so far to say it is necessary to do some form of checking up, for the very reason(s) you state here Andrea, and I would really have been surprised if matters were taken solely on trust.

      • There is no need for the GIC to “check up” on you. Why should they get to decide how you live? You want treatment for your medical condition, not fashion advice or someone else’s opinion of what makes a woman.

        That person who is “not wholly female whenever at work” – maybe they are happy that way. Maybe they want some non-binary sort of life. At the end of the day, what they have in their underwear is for them to deal with. It is a private issue.

      • Exactly! The check-up suggest sthat the GIC have certain criteria that constitute feminine presentation, and implies a tick-box, ‘pass or fail’ judgement. Not only that, but they’re also relying on someone’s opinion who may have little or no understanding of the breadth or nuances of the transgender spectrum. I just don’t like the sense of mistrust – as if anyone puts themselves through this on a whim.

      • It’s not to do with criteria for feminine presentation, it’s to do with the eventual provision of expensive, significant, and irreversible surgery, and this is provided when it is considered that the person is living completely comfortably and happily in their true gender.
        And whim, well, I kinda think Chelsea Attonley (or whatever his name was) is an example of why such checks are necessary, they lived as a female for a number of years but I gather it was all about glitz and glamour… and eventually Chelsea found it too much like hard work and went back to living in birth gender.

      • “it’s to do with the eventual provision of expensive, significant, and irreversible surgery, and this is provided when it is considered that the person is living completely comfortably and happily in their true gender.”

        And if that true gender is some sort of non-binary or genderfluid existence rather than the good old male or female binary? I admit it makes no sense to *me* but I am very binary and happy as female. Nonetheless I am aware that there are people out there who do not fit into the male/female categories and the NHS makes little or no provision for these people so they have to “pretend” to get through the system.

        I came across one explanation of “genderfluid” that suggested it was allied to bi-polar disorder and that the bi-polar condition explains the back-and-forth gender switching that these people experience. That gave me some insight to these other positions on the gender spectrum.

        Chelsea Attonley’s experience illustrates why you need to be totally honest with yourself in this process and to examine your reasons for doing this and be straight with the psychologists and doctors. At the end of the day, if you lie to yourself then you will the only person who suffers.

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