What’s the cost of a gendered name? Lola was discharged after the clinic that they* had attended for two years determined that not changing their name from Lola to a male gendered or gender neutral name did not warrant the surgery that would ultimately make them feel more like Lola.
When I went to the gender identity clinic’s (GIC) welcoming session, they proudly told me that they treated non-binary transgender people. A non-binary person is someone who identifies as something other than male or female. I am agender, so I am neither of those options.
It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am. I was born with a condition that caused me to not produce many hormones, including oestrogen and testosterone. I was put on hormone replacement therapy when I was 12 and now I take both oestrogen and testosterone.
Being quite androgynous when I was younger, I got bullied frequently by others demanding to know my gender. That made me want to fit in. I didn’t resist hormone replacement therapy when I was 12. I embraced it. It was about growing older to me. But the more I developed, the worse I felt.
When I discovered the concept of “agender”, it fit. It matched how I felt my entire life and it just made sense to me. I suspected for years and years that I wanted my chest to not be there any more. And when I finally put on a binder – everything fit.
For the last five years, I’ve been pursuing chest surgery. Unfortunately, my chest isn’t large enough to merit what I want through the NHS. So, with the encouragement of my doctors and despite the warnings from other non-binary people, I went through the GIC.
I waited two years in total from start to finish to be denied. I had two assessments with two different psychiatrists, lasting an hour and a half each. In three hours, I told the truth. I told them where I came from, what I’d been through, and what I needed from them.
Two days ago, I received a discharge from the GIC. It stated:
“We would not countenance endorsement of an irreversible surgical procedure unless the individual had been able to demonstrably consolidate a social transition including name change to the preferred gender role.”
I don’t recall even begin asked during my assessment if I had plans to change my name. The name I go by is Lola. I love it. I don’t care if it’s not “gender neutral” because my experience of being androgynous early in life is that no matter what, if people can’t guess your gender, they’ll just ask.
Changing my name to something gender neutral won’t actually make anyone see me for who I am. It’ll just make people ask me what I am. I don’t live in a society where people will ever see me as agender just from looks, so, as frustrated as it makes me, I cope with it by trying my best to accept it. What’s more important for me is having my body feel right.
And it doesn’t. As the summer months approach, my anxiety increases thinking of the way the heat reminds me of the constant presence of my chest. Every day I feel like I’m lugging around two giant tumours. The psychological relief I feel by wearing a binder is good, but the physical discomfort and pain of it cutting into my skin makes it not a good enough long-term solution.
While I owe my life to the NHS and I am glad for the treatment I receive for my disability, the lack of money allocated toward GICs only means that they are forced to pick and choose. Individuals who go to a GIC and wait 9-6 months for a first appointment and longer to be assessed, we’re not confused about what we want.
The journey it takes to realising your gender is different and your need for medical assistance begins way before you reach a GIC, so most already know how they feel before they get assessed. Still, with a limited pot of funding, I suppose they must make decisions based on ridiculous, outdated criteria.
Criteria that make it impossible for agender people to actually receive any care.
Around this time of Transgender Visibility, I would like people to know and see the struggles transgender and non-binary people face to receive care. And maybe, in time, “GIC” won’t be such a tumultuous word among transgender people.
Lola is currently fundraising for their chest surgery via YouCaring.
*We asked Lola which pronoun they were most comfortable us using to describe them.
This article was taken from Issue 11 of TheGayUK. To Subscribe click here
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.