On 25th June I had the mental health assessment necessary for anyone who wishes to physically alter their gender identity (see Declaring Sanity). I ended the post with my disappointment in the way in which the system works; the psychiatrist, Dr.B, who saw me couldn’t give me the referral himself, because he didn’t have the same authority as a consultant psychiatrist. So we waited for his return from compassionate leave. Another consultant psychiatrist came along instead.
My wonderful GP called me a while after, and asked what was going on. I said that I didn’t know, I’m still in the waiting game. She sensed my exasperation and chased up the psychiatrist herself. She did get somewhere but the news, as expected, was not good. My cynicism told me that the assessment in June would not be enough and I’d have to be called back for another interview. My cynicism was right. Apparently it can only be done by the consultant psychiatrist. Apparently what had been noted down was of no use. Apparently my appointment in June was a waste of time.
I received another letter, with another psychiatrist, for another assessment.
I had an assessment scheduled for 14th September. Despite the last correspondence between my GP and both psychiatrists being dated 25th July. With almost 16 weeks to think about my case since the referral, and 8 weeks to get me to a doctor, I highly doubted I was a priority. Which gave me a great sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, my self-worth was at an all time low, and in September, I had hit rock bottom; I didn’t turn up.
All sorts of emotions were going around my head and my heart that day. I can only recollect a few, afraid to remember the rest. I stayed in bed all day, stuck with sorrow, trapped with panic. It took me a while to rearrange the next one, worried they wouldn’t be happy with my non-attendance. They weren’t at all, and I got a date for 5th October.
Finally, a date. I was not going to let this one go. I already felt angry at myself for holding myself back in this whole process. I’m still kicking myself, but I know my darkness was stronger back then. And I would happily let it have its way.
However, I got a call the next day asking to change that to 4th October, doctor’s mistake. I wasn’t bothered by an earlier appointment at all, so I accepted with enthusiasm.
A few days later I realised that I start my part-time course at college. Classes are only on Thursdays. 4th October is a Thursday. I called up again, informing them of my situation, asking for the soonest available appointment that will not be on a Thursday.
Once more, I had a date. It might have been 10 days later, but it was a date that I will be present for: 15th October. Each day was another kick, ashamed that I had let myself surrender to my depression. I looked back, to the appointment back in June… And then looked at how far I had come in those 4 months… And felt so unhappy. It’s taken me that long and I haven’t even gotten my foot in the door. My friends reassured me that it’s still a step forward, I’m in the process of transitioning, I’m doing it.
But I’m not.
I’m not transitioning.
I’m not moving forward.
I’m not doing anything.
That’s how I’ve felt for months, and that’s how I will feel for months more. It’s contributing to this depression I find myself giving into every other day. ‘Things will get better, things will change soon,’ people tell me. ‘Why should anything change?’ I retort back with such fury. Even after the appointment with the right consultant psychiatrist this week, why would I feel like I’m moving forward?
Right: the appointment.
I sat opposite an elderly Indian man, his name was Dr.Y. He had an intimidating presence. His tone of voice, no matter what he was asking, and even if it was for a medical purpose, it just seemed nosy. He asked me questions to which answers should have been in my file, like, “Have you any other siblings apart from your sister?” Surely I would’ve mentioned all of my siblings when I spoke about my siblings. “Your parents divorced when you were 11?” Is that what it says in my file? Amongst the notes that were dictated by me? To provide an honest family/medical/personal history of my life? I’m not sure if you can trust them… “Are you on any hormones, taking any medication right now?” Well, no. If I was I wouldn’t fucking be here, would I? His following remark made me feel incredibly insecure and under such judgement. He motioned his hand around his chin, “You’re growing a beard, I see,” and he chuckled, not quite sure what to think about that. “Yes, I’m hairy,” I replied bluntly.
I suddenly felt such a sense of unease as he inspected me. Was it terrible that I thought I would’ve felt more comfortable if the doctor sitting in front of me was white? I don’t think I would’ve felt so judged, and analysed otherwise, it’s almost like Dr.Y was trying to figure out for himself why I was the way I was, and not like other Asian girls born girls.
“Your name is Arabic, you know that?” He chatted to me whilst reading.
“Yeah, I know…” Funny that. I would’ve never known the origins of my name until a strange Indian guy told me.
“You know what it means?” Stop talking to me.
“Yes. It means dawn. Morning.” Of course I know what it means, it’s my name.
“Yes, it means morning. You have Arabic in your family?” This doesn’t matter.
“Uh, well my parents are Muslim. It’s a Muslim name.”
“Oh where are they from?” This is also irrelevant.
“Well. They’re Pakistani, I’m Pakistani… My mum was born in Uganda, and my dad was born in India.” The same answer I have to tell anyone who asks why my skin is the colour it is.
“Ah yes.” Dr.Y smiled and his curiosity finally stopped. He did ask later if I was going to change my name and fear shot through me. Will he think I’m trans enough? Will he think I’m brown enough? I said firmly, “No, I like my name. And it’s unisex…” I trailed off wondering if he was going to tell me otherwise, with his expertise on Arabic names. Well, I wasn’t wrong about his prying attitude, or the judgement he was passing on me because I was brown, like him. What a comfortable atmosphere he put me in. Hurrah. So glad I turned up.
It took him quite a while to get through all the notes from the summer. I imagine Dr.B had done quite a thorough check – which he did.
“Dr.B has got a full history on you, there isn’t much more I need to ask from you.” My mouth dropped as Dr.Y finished talking. Are you fucking kidding me? 4 months and you had everything you needed to know. 18 weeks and I don’t even need to be here.
“I’m happy with your examination, you don’t have any problems, so you can continue with the treatment.” Dr.Y smiled at me like he was giving me the best news in the world. I didn’t smile back. ‘Continue with the treatment’ – as if it’s already begun. Dr.B already knew I didn’t have any underlying psychosis. Even my GP knew that. Frustrated, I left, with nothing more to say. I’d done it now. He said it would be a few days for word to reach my GP and then it’ll be a referral to the GIC in London. Which could be much more than just a few days.
The appointment with Dr.Y was even shorter than the appointment with Dr.B. I’m left thinking, ‘What was the point of that?’ This whole process – I’m laughing as I write– it’s barely a process because it still feels like it hasn’t started. It’s coming up to a year, and I feel exactly the same, I am exactly the same. Why should I feel different – nothing is different at all. More people know me as ‘he’, and I’m getting a little more involved in queer/trans activism, but I’m more scared than ever. It doesn’t matter how many people see me as ‘he’, I won’t feel like ‘him’, nor will my parents see me as ‘him’.
That’s the big heartache. Parents. Until something changes, nothing will change for them. I told them I was transitioning and this is what I’m going to do… But how much of that has happened? Absolutely zero in their eyes. And it might as well be. Since nothing has changed, why should it change them? They’re not even taking it seriously. It was just something I said a while ago, that was probably just a phase, or something I’ve dealt with. I haven’t brought it up since, I look relatively healthy and content, my answers regarding my well-being are trusted and unquestioned, so I must be happy.
Yes, I must be happy.