When I first transitioned almost 13 years ago the wait to see a specialist wasn’t too long, even if it did mean a long journey to get to the clinic to talk to the doctors. As there were only a few gender clinics in the UK. But back then things moved smoothly, the waits were not long and the process was quite quick. I would have had my surgery back then if it hadn’t been for complications.
But now the system is a total mess. There are still only the same numbers of gender clinics that were in existence 13 years ago and give or take a few the same numbers of doctors. But given the increased exposure in the media of transsexuals, more and more people are taking the step and wanting to transition.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to know that if the supply of treatment stays the same but the demand for treatment goes up there becomes some major problems. The waiting time for people to get an appointment has spiralled out of control; where as I waited only a few months the wait is now up to two years.
That is two years knowing what you want to do, knowing that you want to transition and live as your authentic self. But you have to suffer an excruciatingly long wait just to get the first appointment, and even longer before they will consider prescribing HRT so they can start to live their life properly.
The whole system is a mess and failing trans people at every turn. If it was any other medical condition there would be a public outcry about the time people are having to wait. But because it is trans people they are almost a forgotten minority forced to wait years or spend thousands of pounds to seek treatment privately.
What is needed is a few simple things. Firstly more funding to cover the cost of the increase in the number of people wanting to transition, or at least discuss the possibilities. The second and third thing are interlinked. They need both increase the number of gender clinics in the UK, and place them in more convenient places, so people don’t have to travel hours for an appointment. Equally they need to employ more doctors to staff the clinics.
By doing those two things you could slash the waiting time that people are having to put up with, and allow them to transition sooner without many years of waiting. This would cut down on a lot of suffering trans people have to deal with while they wait for their appointments.
The final thing I can think of at the moment would evolve providing extra training to GP’s around the country on how to deal with transgender individuals. Maybe even allowing the GP’s to prescribe anti-androgens and possibly HRT to help transsexuals. This could be done in conjunction with a local psychiatrist to help assess them and speed up the process.
When it gets to the other end of transition, that being surgery, they have already made improvements on this front as they have now gone from only having two surgeons to having four. Indeed once I saw the surgeon the time between the first appointment and having the surgery done was only a couple of months.
So if they can do it at the surgery end of the treatment pathway, then there is no reason why they can’t overhaul the initial bit and the lead up to surgery. To save lots of people mental anguish while they have to wait, or have to spend large sums of money to go private.
Though given the negative coverage that transgender people have been receiving in the media of late, I would imagine that if such positive changes were to be introduced the press would do so many hit pieces about it. So because of the media and TERF’s I can’t see these positive changes happening any time soon, although they are very much needed to help lots of people.