Imagine this: You’re 24 years old. You’ve known for many years who you are, but you’ve had to hide it. For fear of being ostracised, fear of losing people, fear of tearing your family apart. But you can’t keep lying to yourself anymore.
So you’re sitting in your GP’s waiting room, full of anxiety. You swear to yourself – you will tell him this time. You’ll tell him that you are a boy and not a girl. You will feel great. You will be referred for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and your life will begin.
Then that name is called. You cringe when someone calls you that anymore. Then you’re sitting in front of him, dancing around the issue before blurting out: “I’m transgender and I want to transition!”
Radio silence. Cue an inappropriate trans joke from him. You laugh along out of pure nerves, and you hate yourself for doing that. He tells you he doesn’t know what to do with the information and asks you what he should do. You don’t really know; you thought he would, but you agree to do the research and return. Before you go, you ask him to change your name in his system to your new legal name. He refuses and you’re feeling too let down and embarrassed to argue.
This was my experience. There are thousands like it, and thousands worse. Currently in Ireland a GP must refer a trans patient to two people: One of the only two endocrinologists in the country willing to prescribe HRT, and one of the only psychiatrists in the country willing to give a ‘diagnosis’.
It takes, on average, two years before you will even be seen. You are forced to ask for permission to transition and only one person in this country is capable of giving you that permission. Not only this, but the system is massively flawed with constantly cancelled clinics, increased waiting lists, lost referral letters and no clarified guidelines.
This is what pushed me to begin the #ThisIsMe Transgender Healthcare Campaign. The trans community and their allies have taken to the streets with the campaign and continue to push this campaign forward.
We are asking for three things:
1. GP education on the prescribing of HRT to trans people to be rolled out nation wide. After all, GP’s already provide HRT to cisgender people daily.
2. An abolishment of the medical/diagnostic model. We are not ill and are not a diagnosis.
3. The introduction of an informed consent model, allowing us the right to our own bodies.
The #ThisIsMe campaign is strong, a lot of work is being done and we are finally engaging with politicians in Leinster House. But we will not be going anywhere until the right people hear us.