This is the personal experience of the Newcastle GIC (Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service – NRGDS) of a local trans woman, Eliza (name changed to keep anonymity). Action for Trans Health Durham believes in the abolition of the gatekeeping practices of GICs, whilst recognising the need for trans people to have information about navigating the current system, to retain as much of their autonomy as possible.
Eliza is 29 year old binary trans woman who changed her name by deed poll in December 2016. She asked her GP for a GIC referral in July 2016 and had her first appointment in May 2017 (14 months wait). She began taking oestrogen privately in January 2017 and had a shared-care agreement with her GP in place. She is slim, white and bisexual and attended the appointment with a femme-presenting partner.
The initial appointment was with a non-medical member of staff and took place at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) hospital in Newcastle. The appointment was in a room in the Eating Disorders clinic. The room contained three chairs, a desk with a computer and an empty bookcase.
These are the questions she was asked:
- What do you want from a referral to the GIC?
- What are your personal circumstances?
- Are you out to everyone in your life? For how long? Is this how you dress every day? [Eliza was wearing a grey, buisnesswear dress, having come directly from work]
- Are your friends supportive of your transition? Are you in touch with any trans networks?
- How is your body image? What issues do you have?
- What is your mental health history like?
- What hormones and treatment are you currently taking?
- Have you had any trouble with the police, developmental history or drug-taking?
- What was your gender development like?
- What is your sexuality? Have there been changes to your sex life?
After these questions Eliza was told that she would be referred to the consultant for the second assessment stage, after which she may receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan. There was no indication that a second appointment would not be given – they estimated a 3-month wait for the next appointment (EDIT: the final wait was 5 months). She was asked to get her bloods taken before the next appointment so that the consultant could review her hormone levels.
Overall, the appointment was fairly easy, helped undoubtedly by her binary presentation and lack of existing mental health conditions.
If you have had an experience with the Newcastle GIC (NRGDS) and would like to share it so that other trans people know what to expect, please get in touch!
You can also report your experiences with individual healthcare practitioners (including social workers, reception staff, etc!) in our Durham Trans Healthcare Survey.