I was a bundle of nerves today, I had to leave my house at 9am to make my lunchtime appointment and simply because of childcare issues I had to take my son out of school and drop him off en-route.
My last minute prep consisted of me reading through the first 3 months of my blog posts to refresh my memory on how I felt and why I made the choices I have to date. Anyone exploring their gender should write things down to refer back to!
I made good time and was met by one of my older sisters who had promised when she encouraged me to call at the beginning of the year that she would come with me – life had intervened, but we met for a coffee and she showed me the correct building before grabbing a quick lunch which I could barely swallow down as I had an hour to wait before I was due.
The administrator gave me some forms to fill in which along with a request for name/gender/D.O.B and preferred contact details however it also included a quick quiz on allergies and my drinking habits as well as asking about my sexual preferences and the last time I had sexual intercourse… 5 yrs plus – It was easier to work out when I tried and stopped smoking as a teen! So for initial forms they were a bit invasive, but understandable given that the Gender Clinic comes under the department of Sexual Health in the NHS system. I used my male name but left the space for gender blank.
I am used to waiting in hospitals and unless the appointment is scheduled for first thing in the morning they never run on time, so I had taken a book I was given called, “The Transgender Guidebook” which was conveniently hidden inside the paper cover of “The chess men” a thriller by Peter May set in Scotland that I would recommend even if you aren’t looking to disguise what you are reading in public.
Eventually my name was called and I met the doctor who surprised me by introducing a second person who specialised in gender. I was so nervous that if I tried to specify which doctor I would be guessing. My initial assumption was student/trainee but after introducing herself she sat at an angle out of the way and was definitely there in the role of observer.
I was asked how I was feeling and had to acknowledge that I was incredibly nervous, but glad I was here. I was told to basically just explain why I made the appointment, so for the next 2 hours that is what I did – jumping back and forth a little chronologically I started with last year and my Youtube obsession with gender videos, learning about the differences between gender identity and expression as well as birth sex, realising that on some level I did not fit with the definition of cisgender.
The failed attempt at making an appointment in a different healthboard area for anonymity and the avoidance of my GP because of them knowing my business, I included the marriage failing and some of the highlights of that coupled with the fancy dress party and going out openly dressed as a female for the first time ever, the multiple dropped calls before booking this appointment followed up with a quick recap of my trips out, the feelings I had and have when I go out as DeeDee, the people I had told and their responses to me, the worries I had about it being a mental health issue as well as the shame and the testing to see if it was connected to the pornography that had become so easily obtainable and abundant as an adult even though I know how harmful the sex industry is – I pointed out that while I have no dysphoria around my genitals being there – it is pretty much because they never get used, my disgust is more with my libido. This was after I was asked.
The confusion about getting to 40 before this wreaked havoc on my life. The almost all encompassing fear of being rejected by my children. The knowledge of having to relocate eventually and only wanting to do that once rather than multiple times, so I also included my self diagnosis of mild depression.
Both women sat and listened to my patchwork story, I explained that I found it ironic that in order to be honest with myself I had to remove physical gender based around sex organs out of the equation but then really struggled to define what makes a man a man or a woman a woman because all that is left is gender stereotypes and I know that men can embrace most of the things I listed about myself that I consider female traits.
I mentioned blogging to write my feelings down and I mentioned joining the tg groups in the hopes that I would be able to say that I was not trans and could go back to the old me before realising that elements of my life fitted in with others.
I spoke of that almost constant feeling of being a cuckoo in the nest and never fitting in, of living up to the roles I thought I should and my lack of self esteem as a result of never being able to live up to expectations.
I was the living definition of oversharing, but by the end of it all I felt glad that I had made the appointment in order to get a non biased opinion. I am sure I missed plenty out but what really struck me as I was describing all of this was just how exhausting I find being a man, while being DeeDee just seems far less effort even with the shaving/makeup/wig issues.
Although she covered herself by stating that she was not a psychologist the very first thing she did was assure me that this is not a mental health issue. (yay!)
I was given https://www.ngicns.scot.nhs.uk/ to look at as a hub for resources and facts. I realised tonight that I have actually come across it on my travels, because I watched the mini video on attending appointments the other day.
I was asked after I had mentioned transition and hormones whether or not I saw myself taking that route and I said yes. I didn’t hesitate. But then I felt the need to qualify it by saying that where I am intellectually is a slightly different place to where I am emotionally. I was assured that I do not need to take any route, there is not one way of doing anything but that now I have linked in they will see me again for support.
Although they do not see gender as a mental health issue legally anymore there still has to be a required appointment with a psychologist at Sandyford before they can start to offer me anything so she will refer me there. If between now and then I change my mind they can cancel the appointment but it is better to get moving down the list then sit and wait until I feel ready as there are waiting time issues due to them being short staffed. I acknowledged that I am not in a hurry and I will be going back to see them in January, that way they can ask me a few questions based on the information I gave to them today (I apologised for just dumping it all out on them) and we can see where I am and how they can support me.
I confessed my indecision about names and presenting female and was assured that how I present is up to me, as are the pronouns and name they use in the room with me and what they keep on the system, none of it makes any difference to how seriously they take the information I give them. We stuck with my male name but knowing that even if I present male at my appointments that I can request to be called DeeDee really lifted my spirits!
We stopped for a takeaway on the way home and I relied on energy drinks to get me through the driving because I now have an emotional hangover – I am tired, have a headache and am full of stodgy food and fizzy juice which I know I will regret tomorrow, but I needed to get it down while the feelings were still fresh.
I know I have taken my first steps towards becoming comfortable just being me.