Knowledge is power. This is definitely the case when it comes to gender. It is really important to know what you are getting into, what you are likely to face and what you need to be aware of. Today I want to cover some of the little things people tend to forget, and some of the bigger things that may be more obvious. I also am going to cover knowing what to do for medical routes in brief.
I am not talking about being able to understand your gender at the moment, that isn’t coming until Monday 25th, when I do my post for U, today is about just knowing stuff.
So you think you might be trans, or non-binary. The first thing you need to work out is how you identify. While it is not a requirement to have a label, a lot of people find it helpful to their own expression as they are able to describe what it is they are feeling to others. Doing your research is good, look into different identities, I researched a lot when I first started exploring my feelings and it took a while but finally I found something that fit me. However, please remember it is okay to change how you identify. I know I have multiple times, as I feel more comfortable in myself, as I do more learning.
If you are in the position where you don’t know if you are trans/non-binary, I can’t help too much. It is ultimately something you have to work out for yourself. One thing I feel helped me was imagining myself when I was 80 years old, sitting on the front porch/on the sofa, and imagining how I would look. Are you happy with the idea of being the same as you are now? I at the time was female, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t picture myself happy as an old lady. However, when I changed the image to be an old man, perhaps a little femme around the edges, but closer to a man, I knew it fit. It made sense. Try it out, it doesn’t work for everyone but it might for you.
When you first come out, it is a scary time. You are suddenly in this position of knowing what you are, but not necessarily knowing what to do about it. The next thing I’d focus on is knowing if you feel the need to medically transition. It isn’t for everyone, not everyone wants to or is able to medically transition and that is totally okay. At the same time, it is also perfectly fine to want to. A good idea can be to talk to a medical professional. This could be your GP, or (as I suggested in my post on Hormones) it could be someone else such as someone from a specialist service like Clinic T in Brighton. I would suggest speaking through your options, and your feelings around said options. You could ask for a referral to a gender clinic, or a referral for therapy if you feel you want to work some things out first. One thing I would advise is asking for a referral to a GIC if you think there is any chance you may want to medically transition. This is because the waiting times are so long, from the point of applying you are looking at anywhere from 7 months to 2 years for an appointment depending on clinics.
With regards to clinics, knowledge is also important. Do your research, learn about what different clinics offer, what others say about them, what would be best for you. What are your main priorities? Did you want to see someone who specialises in non-binary people? Did you want a clinic nearby? Unfortunately not everyone has the option of different places to go, so if you do, chose wisely. Do bare in mind that you can be referred to more than one if your referrer will do so (it has to be a medical professional). You can also be re-referred somewhere if you are discharged at any point, so don’t worry so much if you feel the need to stop going. The only thing to remember is that will put you back to the beginning of the waiting list.
Personally I started with London’s Charing Cross Gender Clinic, and was referred for top surgery and hormones, and got my first signature for bottom surgery there. However due to a mishap with communication I was discharged. This means that I have now asked to be re-referred, and instead of London I have asked to be sent to the Laurels in Exeter. While they are further away, they have a better track record of working with non-binary people.
Know as much as you can to tell other people. I am a firm believer that a good ally will do their own research, sometimes the people closest to you just wont do so, and you feel the need to talk to them about it. However you need to explain a few things first. Your best bet is to do a lot of research yourself, after all it affects you and it is good to be armed with the facts.
It is also important to know what you are talking about for the doctors. While you’d think they would know a little about trans stuff, a lot of doctors have never worked with trans people, let alone non-binary persons. Know what stuff in the authority or your insurance there is to back you up. In the NHS there are guidelines for treating trans people (unfortunately the website linked is very binary but it is legitimate), get a copy if you can, give it to your GP and refer to it where you need to.
There is probably a lot more I could write on this topic, but for today I will leave it be. I will definitely revisit it, both over the next few weeks in other subjects and as something in its own right. I hope you enjoyed today’s post though, and I hope it was at least a little interesting for you! To find out more about the A-Z Challenge, click here. Tomorrow’s post is L for Let’s Talk, where I will be discussing mental health. Come and check it out!