Pink Saltire – Scottish, Trans and Proud: Trans Healthcare


Dysphoria, it feels like you’re trying to puke out your own soul. You’re like [THROWING UP IMITATION] Feeling good today, apart from there “Oh no, look you’re not feeling so good today now!” It’s like that. It’s no fun. We’ve got an 80s song in our head.# There was a famous trumpet man from out chicago way# She had a trumpet style noone else could play# He was the top man at his craft# But then his number came up and he was gone with the draft. He’s in the army now# He’s blowin’ reveille.
He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B
# All we want is the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.I’m Sam, I’m 14 years old, and I’m from Glasgow, and I’m a transgender guy. I’m interested in piano, drawing, art, dance, a lot of dance. When I’m older, I’d like to do music, that’s what I want to do. My name is Rachel Crawford, and I come from Edinburgh, I spent the last 4 years of my life living in Dundee, I’m studying computer games technology at Abertay University. I finished university just a month ago, and I’ve just been kicking about for a little while since then, because I start a new job soon in Edinburgh. I’ll be working in a junior programming role at a famous — and well known game developer. My name’s Oceania, I’m 50 years old, and I am a community volunteer. I’m a non-binary trans person. I’m a they, I express almost exclusively as female, but I identify as non-binary. I don’t think I’m really either. I don’t like describing myself in terms of male or female. I think the hardest part has always been coming out to family and friends, and actually figuring out I was trans in the first place. I took a lot of time, and a lot of self exploration — and uhh…really….y’know. A lot of introspection. 38 was when I really started. That was just after my daughter came to live with me. So, my transition was much longer than most people’s, because when my daughter first arrived, I was really unsure as to how transitioning was going to affect us. She was 8 when she arrived. So I think for the first sort of 18 months, I pulled back after my first Sandyford appointment, because I wasn’t sure if transitioning as a single parent, was gonna be too tough on my daughter. So yes, there was a big delay, but in the end I decided that it was much better for me — to do what I needed to do. Because to be a good parent, we have to be as good as we can be. When I faced up to the fact that I was trans, and decided that I needed support and help, I went to my GP who was in Edinburgh at the time, and spoke to her about it and she referred me to — the gender clinic in Edinburgh. And 8 months after that, I was there for my first appointment. I think seeing a Gender Clinic took a while, because I had to go through a psychiatrist, to make sure I wasn’t cray-cray for like months, before I could even get onto the clinic. And now I’m finally in the clinic, but the waiting times are so long, and I know — if you know anything about trans people you will probably have a trans friend who is like — “My god, waiting times!” because, Christ they’re bad. And we’re not — we’re not like 1 in a million, we do exist and there’s quite a number of us. I was waiting for my appointment to happen, I had no idea when it was going to actually be, and somebody pointed me at the private clinic in Edinburgh. Fortunately, I had enough money to get a few appointments, and that actually sped things up a lot. And I think it would have been at least another six months — before I got on HRT if it wasn’t for that. The whole trans and gender identity side of things, is not in the same rules as everybody else. Trans people have to wait anything up to 20 months — in Scotland for their first appointment. We would like to see — and this is one of the things that Nicola Sturgeon — and the other party leaders were talking about — to an 18 week referral for new referrals for trans people. And I think that would go a huge way to alleviating the suffering — that is caused by having to wait such an excessive amount of time. I’ve just done getting blood tests for my puberty blockers. I was going to get that a long while ago and then they were like — on the day they were like — “Uhh, so fam, we’re cancelling it.” and I never found out why, they never told me. I hope to get testosterone as soon as possible, and then top surgery as soon as possible. Because everything here moves. So whenever you take your binder off, you’re constantly reminded that it’s there, constantly. And the thing is, if you keep your binder on for too long, then apparently you’ll have really bad top surgery. So I’ve got another 4 years to wait until I have top surgery, and by that time I might have completely ruined my chest. I would categorize my dealings with Sandyford as frustruating, frightening, and ultimately, not a positive experience. The whole experience was a series of jumping through — seemingly impossible and extremely frightening hoops, when you didn’t even know what the hoops were for or where they were. I’m very clear on being non-binary. I had to persuade the Sandyford that I was female, and that involved pretending to be somebody I really wasn’t. I felt like I was almost made to put on an act — to get what I wanted from Sandyford rather than being — able to be honest and genuine about my situation, and how I felt. I felt that every meeting I went to I was I was trying to persuade them, or justify my experience to them, which really is not a helpful thing. I came in and I was wearing this frankly, awesome coat. Like…mmmmm! It was red and black tartan with love heart pockets — with bow laces on it, and like fur around hood, around the collars, and it’s actually gorgeous. I wore this to it, and he was like — “Sam, are you secure in your gender?” And I was like “Christ” and the scariest thing about this man — is that he could actually postpone my testosterone injections, and postpone my surgery. This is something he can do because he thinks I’m not secure in my gender. The last time I actually did full makeup, a wig, high heels, and balls out girly, was because I had to go to a Sandyford appointment. After starting HRT that was a very big positive change for me. It meant that I didn’t need to worry so much about this feeling that — I wasn’t in control of my body, that I wasn’t in control of my physical destiny. It’s…umm…I didn’t have to be scared of my body anymore. Since I’ve stopped seeing Sandyford or since I now don’t need — anything from Sandyford, that’s something I’ve never had to do. And I think that actually that process, is a really damaging process. It was weird actually, because I had pink hair a while ago, and when I had pink hair, people would look at my hair with the corner of their eye and say “She” and then they’d see my face and be like — “Oh, sorry sir.” But it’s still really ingrained in a lot of people’s minds, that pink is girls, and blue is guys. And if that’s ingrained, then clothes in gender is ingrained too. And that’s gonna take a while to sort out, but the scariest part was that’s ingrained in someone who’s part of the gender clinic. He’s meant to like help me out, he’s meant to know about gender, because he works in a gender clinic, it’s kinda how you expect it to work, but no. All trans women in Scotland have to travel to Brighton, the Nuffield hospital in Brighton for surgery. This is the only option we have, there’s no other option. And that means we have to fly from Glasgow, you’re not allowed to drive, you’re not allowed to take the bus or anything, you have to fly. So when I went for my surgery, I had to fly to Glasgow, I had five days in the hospital, after major, major surgery which involved a huge amount of stitching, as you can probably imagine. And then four days after major surgery, when I was at a point where I still couldn’t sit down, I was checked out of hospital and had to fly back. By the time I had landed in Glasgow, all of my stitches had ripped, which meant I had open wounds by the time I got back here. And that was purely because I didn’t have the time I needed, to recover sufficiently in the hospital, before being discharged. I have scarring for life because of that. If I think back to how I was before starting HRT, even before like coming out and just accepting myself as transgender, I was definitely not in a good place. And I’m in such a better place now, that it’s very difficult — to relate to my previous self in some ways. I think transitioning has enhanced my relationship with my daughter. I think she has an understanding of me, and I have an understanding of her, that we never had prior to transition. I don’t think there is anything I would want to change. Whilst surgery and the actual transition process itself is difficult, I don’t think you’ll find anybody who doesn’t agree with that, but transition is just a very small part of what goes on for a trans person. I’m done transitioning. I am the person I always wanted to be. And I’m fantastic, I love it. It’s brilliant.# They put me in a cage I tell you# They put me on a stage I tell you# They tell us how we’re all the same I tell you# They made us think that that’s okay # And I’m in a never ending January# My head won’t stop spinning around# And I’m in a never ending January # I’m going down

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