Yes, I am going to continue to joke about the high fantasy sounding “Nether Edge” location of Sheffield’s Porterbrook Clinic. I am easily amused.
Anyway, so I had my second Gender Identity Clinic appointment last week, how did it go? Quite well, albeit expectedly straightforward.
As a re-cap, the first appointment was an assessment where I went over my history. This felt fairly easy to do considering the practice I’ve had doing so in the past, with other doctors and my old counsellor. I’ve got my “here’s why I’m trans” recollection down into pretty easy to follow highlights. So that means I went over the usual stuff in timeline order: being a dorky outcast kid who then came out as transgender as a young teen, went into denial, decided to transition at 25, blah blah blah…
So the second appointment was yet another assessment, this time with someone else. It lasted 90 minutes altogether and was a pretty relaxed affair. Yet again it was implied there’s unlikely to be any issues with me moving forward through the system, mostly due to the fact that I’ve been on HRT for 10 months, changed my name long ago, I’m out as transgender to everyone in my life etc. etc. According to their checklist I’m a “straightforward” case.
For anyone who stumbles across this blog post and is looking for pointers on what to expect from a Sheffield GIC appointment these days, it seems to still basically be about checking to see if your life is “stable”. They want people to transition in a stress-free and simple situation. It’s not just about proving your transition is for keeps and something you take seriously (which it is about too) it’s also showing you’re transitioning in an environment that’s safe, secure and supported. It is not lost on me that as trans people that’s often not an easy requirement, and no I do not for a second think that this system is fair or justified. Often transition can be the act which brings much needed relief from a stressful life. Being trans is stressful, to hide vital care so defensively behind multiple tests is ableist and cruel.
I should also stress that these early appointments are more about proving yourself worthy to them than actually receiving any care. I’ve yet to come across any other type of healthcare which collectively requires a minimum of a three hour discussion followed by a physical examination, spread across about half a year, before you actually can access any kind of health care or advice whatsoever, regardless of every other factor and with no way to bypass it or speed it up. But the reality is that this is the GIC system in its current form (at least in Sheffield, I can’t speak for elsewhere but from what I’ve heard it still differs little across England), we do what we have to do to get through it.
Of course considering the travel involved for me, I’ll admit I’m extra irritated by how the system is so slow and inflexible.
Trains, coaches and automobiles…
So living on the South Coast and being on Sheffield’s GIC list means making the round trip is ridiculously complicated. Due to the fact that my partner’s mother lives in Yorkshire, but not in Sheffield, it adds even more travel to the journey. We have to use her house as a stopgap because it’s impossible to do all the travel in the same day as the appointment.
A little bonus of this setup though is that I got to swing by my parents’ house and hang out with my dog for a bit, who seemed as ecstatic to see me as I was to see him. After sitting on my lap for most of the visit, he eventually flopped onto the floor at my feet and kept an eye on me while I was talking to my family. Leaving my dog behind is still the only real regret I have about moving, so it was really nice to see him again, even if it was only for a couple of hours. This was actually only the second time I’ve seen him since starting HRT, I was actually worried he might not recognise me and he did indeed look at me a little funny when I saw him in September, 7 months on HRT and 7 months since I had seen him before that. After sniffing around and hearing my voice he seemed satisfied that it was me, to my huge relief.
Altogether it took 2 trains, 4 coaches and 8 taxis to attend the appointment, not including the side-trip to visit my parents. That’s a heck of a lot of time spent staring at my phone, waiting for time to pass. Obviously that wasn’t cheap either, which is a huge concern when we’re also having to move house.
Speaking of which, we’re thankfully making progress on that front. Luckily we found a nice place and registered our interest as fast as we could. Or I should say my partner and housemate both did, while I was stuck at work reading their periodic house viewing updates. After which we got accepted (yay!) and the first set of fees have been paid. So now we need to scramble together the money to make the next big payment and then of course arrange actually moving in. I’m sure it won’t be much of a surprise to learn that being a house of four, young, queer women we’re not exactly the most financially flush band of housemates. But I’m sure we can make it work somehow.
I know I should let myself relax now or even celebrate a little, but I’m still feeling tense and not ready to let my guard down just yet. I really can’t wait for this house move to be over with.
I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who’s somewhat relieved that GIC appointments come so far apart. By the gap between the last two, I should be due back there around February. That would be ideal as by then we’ll be settled into our new home and I’ll have an idea of how much money I can use on travel, although at this rate I think I’ll be hitchhiking up there.
Oh well, I think that’ll do it for this update. I’m hoping enough will have happened so the next one will have more good news and less grumpiness!