Into the Lion’s Den and ‘that programme’

After a wait of some 13 months the day of my initial assessment by the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic comes around. Given that there was a tube drivers strike in London that day and the weather was awful (and thus virtually no taxis to be had), it turned out that my journey there was rather more stressful than the actual consultation.

My clinician was a surprisingly young lady (mind you at 68, most people are ‘young’), friendly and easy to talk with. I did realise quite quickly that she had a questionnaire to complete and that answering her questions was going to be more effective than me offering any unsolicited information. However all went smoothly; I got to ask for certain information like when might I get an electrolysis referral or voice coaching or for the NHS to take over my self funded prescription. (Answers on a postcard please, I don’t have any.) Anyway a second consultation with another Clinical Psychologist has been scheduled for late August (they couldn’t possibly trust one person’s opinion, even for a paltry thing like hormones). Never mind the expense or the fact that you could have major surgery for other conditions on just one persons say so, but not hormones that take months to have much effect! By the time I am likely to get prescribed hormones, it’ll be 2018 and the lovely NHS will be marking 70 years of serving the nation, assuming May hasn’t totally privatised it, she is deliberately starving it of money.

The on Thursday,the BBC screened the most awful and biased programme ‘celebrating’ a discredited ‘gender specialist’ in Canada, without its usual sense of balance nor realising the pain it may cause parents of transgender children. I’ve commented elsewhere that this programme was made by BBC World and featured comments from Canadian ‘experts’. It did give the impression that both surgery and hormones were available to children and never made the true facts explicit. Whilst I believe it is valid for a public service broadcaster to make a programme about a minority view ‘discredited’ expert, it is not OK to broadcast it within the UK without a clear and un-ambiguous statement on current UK policy which is that no one under 18 will get surgery, 16 for hormones; under 16 children may get puberty blockers but all will have been closely assessed by psychiatrists and other medically qualified folk. I am a big champion of the BBC, this was not their finest hour.

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