Trans people, standing up for ourselves

Trans people tell our life stories.

After an enquiry by a parliamentary committee in 2016, a consultation, ministerial foot (and knuckle) dragging, we now have another enquiry by the same committee, and trans folk are fed up. In evidence to the committee, Genie put it brilliantly:

You shouldn’t still be asking these questions; please make trans people’s lives easier and do what you said you were going to do, or leave us completely alone. This has become policy theatre to appease bigots, and we know you know that.

Debbie wrote, “We are not what is between our legs. We are not the shape of our chests. We are not our pasts.”

Deborah wrote, “We’ve always been here, we always will be. The government can either treat us as equals, or join the oppressors.”

Emma writes, “You shouldn’t have to pay to be your gender”.

I have not read all the evidence, and brilliant clear exposition of the issues shines out of trans people’s submissions. People told their experiences:

One of my earliest memories is being six years old and crying at a dance competition because I couldn’t wear dresses like the other girls. That was 1975. I very quickly learned that I had to conform, hide who I was. Over the years, this has caused mental issues. When puberty hit, I became a troubled teen, desperate to fit in. I ran away from home and was in trouble with the law, but somehow, I came through that. … At fourteen, a child psychiatrist diagnosed it as disassociate personality disorder, which meant he knew the person he was talking to wasn’t me. I went to university, I fell in love, I married and I had children. Eventually, the façade broke too much to be fixed. It’s hard to maintain. As I approached forty I became anorexic and withdrawn. Eventually, after therapy, I told my wife what the reasons were. I’d finally come to understand myself who I was. Pre-internet I had zero access to information, between 1995 and 2005 I didn’t dare look, for fear of what I’d find. Before 2010, it was still sordid. And then we got the first glimpses of being accepted. I finally could admit to myself first and others after, who and what I was. This wasn’t a perversion. I started the process of transitioning in 2012 and this process turned a dour, dark, depressed individual into somebody who was finally happy inside and out. I’m accepted for who I am at work and with friends. The recent furore over the gender recognition certificate has turned the UK back into a toxic environment for trans people. I can’t go back. I’ve been in the light, a return to darkness would kill me.

“Jane Doe” is a transmedicalist. She writes,

GRC is for those meeting a diagnosis of Transsexual, a permanent desire to make a change. Transgender is a broader term and includes many people who consider their identity fluid. It is to be expected that only a small subset of those identifying as transgender would be eligible for / find it appropriate to acquire a GRD. In essence you are conflating Transsexual and Transgender – they are different.

She is in error. Many people now on the waiting list for gender clinics identify as trans women, but most of them want hormones and surgery.

Opening a tranche of the evidence files, I found eleven trans women and one trans man. The Revd. Alex Clare-Young is a minister in the URC. He had his GRC application rejected because he did not give medical reasons for not having received particular medical treatments. He objects to “discussing one’s genitalia with a panel of strangers”. Bravely, he writes of his experience of assault.

it was extremely difficult for me to access smear tests, despite the fact that I still had a cervix when I reached the eligible age. The system simply didn’t recognise me because in order to change my gender to male, it also changed my sex to male.

Unlike Jane, he stands up for all trans people including gender fluid and nonbinary people.

Katherine disagrees with me. I don’t expect all trans people to have one view. She writes, “I have no personal objection to being transgender being considered through a medical lens, but I know some people do, so I’d just say it’s not a trivial issue.” She too suffered sexual assault, and worries about accessing services.

Nova writes,

I am 22 years old and I’m Transgender. I am currently on the waiting list to see a gender specialist for Hormone replacement therapy and a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. For all my life, I have felt uncomfortable in my skin. I used to dream about being the opposite sex, wearing their clothes, living their life, being regarded as one of them and not what my outer appearance betrays. For in My head, I have a brain that does not match my body. And looking back, all the awkward moments in my childhood make sense, I was being forced to live a lie.

Haters might pick on the mention of clothes, but it’s not about clothes: it’s about expressing our true selves.

She says that GPs should be able to diagnose gender dysphoria and prescribe hormones. The criteria are not difficult. That would get rid of the waiting lists. She dislikes the waiting period: “We are treated like defective machines that must prove they are defective by playing what you believe is “dress up” for two years only to then be assessed by two people just to decide if actually, this is just our natural state of being.”

Alexis makes the obvious point that if the WHO says gender incongruence is not an illness, a diagnosis is otiose. I hope they get that point. She says people don’t get GRCs because it’s expensive and makes no practical difference to our lives. She says how the hate campaign has made trans people afraid. So many of us could make the same points.

Jay is a healthcare professional. She says trans people wait a year even for private treatment. She only legally changed her name one year ago despite transitioning five years ago and using the name informally. She is now concerned she might not be entitled to a GRC because of the delay.

Desirae: “Being trans is not a disease.” She thinks a GRC should be no harder to get than a passport. She has not suffered discrimination, but waited three years to get a first appointment to a GIC.

It is compelling stuff. I assume a researcher will read the evidence, distilling the main points and arguments for the MPs.

All comments welcome.

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