Can’t believe it! I’ve received an email today offering me an appointment with Dr Yellowlees on March 15th. I was expecting a much longer waiting time than this as Dr Myskow suggested his waitlist was at least a month long. It’s a morning appointment so we’re going up the day before and staying over instead of having to get up at stupid o’clock and stressing about getting there on time. The Priory is outside of Glasgow city centre so I’ve decided to drive up there instead of messing around with the train. We’re staying in a Premier Inn just off the motorway about 5 miles from the hospital. The room and breakfast are all booked – fingers crossed that all the snow is gone by then.
I went yesterday to see Dr Myskow in Edinburgh. I was super nervous in the morning and had a bit of a upset stomach but once we got on the train I calmed down significantly. I was incredibly grateful that we had first class tickets – quieter, more room, a table, WiFi and phone charging facilities all helped to pass the time in comfort.
The clinic is just over a mile from Edinburgh Waverley station and was a pleasant walk down Princess Street. The clinic itself seems quite small but comfortable. Dr Myskow came down to introduce herself and take me to her consulting room overlooking the river.
She asked me how I’d made the decision to transition and whereabouts I was in the process. She went through my medical history, measured my height and weight and reviewed the blood test results I’d taken with me – she complimented me on my facial hair which she said was impressive considering that my testosterone levels were significantly lower than expected. We talked about my social situation and family background and some of the experiences which have shaped my life. It was actually quite nice to talk to someone who understood how it feels and sees it as normal rather than exotic or special – the best word to describe it is validation.
She explained the process which she insists on (and mirrors that of GICs) – the initial appointment with her followed by a second assessment by a psychiatrist. Once those assessments have been completed I can arrange a follow up appointment with her and assuming that all is well she would administer my first testosterone injection. She recommended that I see Dr Yellowlees in Glasgow for the psychiatric opinion and is arranging a referral to him. The appointment was about an hour long and cost £250.
Initially I was disappointed that I had to see a psychiatrist (incurring extra expense and adding another delay in getting a prescription) but that was because I was expecting to see a GP with an interest in gender dysphoria to start a bridging prescription. What I didn’t realise is that Dr Myskow, before retiring into private practice, was the clinical lead of the East Lothian gender identity clinic and as such was/is one of Scotland’s foremost experts on the issue. The result of this is that when the assessments have been completed I will have an official diagnosis which starts the countdown for a gender recognition certificate and can potentially look at getting top surgery in 12-18 months time.
The doctors surgery rearranged my appointment with Kim to Dr Patel because she didn’t feel confident prescribing the hormones. Had the appointment with him this morning and he’s reluctant to initiate the bridging prescription. He’s had a meeting with the community pharmacist and is happy with the idea of a bridging prescription but doesn’t feel comfortable starting it because he doesn’t feel confident prescribing off licence without having more expertise. Apparently he’s contacted Leeds GIC but they’ve been less than helpful. I was disappointed but not entirely surprised.
I mentioned the possibility of getting the prescription initiated privately through a gender specialist if he was willing to enter in a shared care agreement and continue the prescription. He had no problem with that and seemed visibly relieved. I’ve booked in to see Dr Myskow in Edinburgh. I can’t believe I’ve managed to get an appointment on February 19th – I was expecting to wait a lot longer for an appointment. I’ll need at least two appointments to secure a prescription and the cost is more than other private clinics such as Gender Care but since their waiting list is months rather than weeks I’m happy to pay the extra.
I’ve booked the day off work and booked the train tickets so now all I’ve got to do is wait…
As soon as I had my change of name deed notarised I dashed around to the GP surgery to register my new name. The receptionist gave me the forms to fill out and took photocopies of the deed. Everything to seemed to go swimmingly and it was satisfying to complete the form as Mr Jonathan Brindle.
I’ve just checked my Emis app to see if it’s been updated with the new details. It has sort of – Mx Jonathan Brindle. Mx? What fuckery is this? I’m all super pissy about it because I’ve looked it up on Wiki and it isn’t a typo it’s an actual title for people who identify as non-binary. Don’t get me wrong, if you identify as non-binary and want to use a weird title then knock yourself out but I don’t. I am a man, I am Mr Jonathan Brindle not some unspecified inbetweener. Of course it’s stupid o’clock at night and I’m all wound up – someone is hijacking my identity and dictating who I am. Chris suggests journalling to channel my frustration and I also post on the Facebook group.
Ok, ok, time to calm down. I’ve had some replies on the group and apparently this is a common thing. I’ve learned that NHS numbers are gender specific to enable targeted screening programmes for things such as cervical smear tests and the like, so Mx is the best that can be done for me because the system won’t allow Mr. I will need a new NHS number issuing to change gender on my medical records. The doctor can apply on my behalf and it should be a simple enough thing to do but I’m holding back at the moment because I don’t want to interfere with any referrals that are carrying my current NHS number – I’d be upset to lose my place in a treatment queue just because I want to be a Mr not a Mx.
Early December 2017, my wife and I went to the GP surgery, she wanted to come with me to demonstrate that she was 100% behind my decision. We spoke to the nurse practitioner Kim. She asked how she could help and I told her that I wanted treatment for gender reassignment. She was surprised but I felt only because she’d never come across a transgender person before. She asked how long I’d felt that way and I replied over 30 years. I know some people have to justify themselves and answer questions like “How do you know?” and “Are you sure?” but she seemed completely accepting of it without further probing. Maybe that’s the benefit of being an older person – I’ve had half a lifetime to be sure! I explained that I hadn’t done anything about it before because I married a woman who married a woman and I wasn’t prepared to throw that away if Chris had been anything less than completely onboard.
She admitted she didn’t know what to do next and I briefly explained what was required (referrals to the Gender Identity Clinic and a referral to an endocrinologist for a bridging prescription of testosterone) and where to find the necessary information (the NHS website and the WPATH treatment guidelines). At this moment in time the waiting lists for my local gender clinic are in excess of a year and I was keen to stress the importance of a bridging prescription to get treatment underway.
She assured us she couldn’t see any reason why the practice wouldn’t support me through the transition and said she was going to set the medical receptionist the task of researching the processes involved. Wow, that’s a massive relief and I guess one of the first hurdles towards treatment because there’s no way I’d be able to afford the entire process privately.