What is Gender Variance?
Gender variance / gender dysphoria / transgenderism describes the personal discomfort experienced by people whose psychological identification as men or as women (the gender identity) is inconsistent with their genes and with the gender role typically associated with that genetic make-up.
The discomfort may be present all the time, or be worse at some times or others. It can sometimes be very severe and other times less so.
What Causes It?
We are not absolutely sure what causes it, and it is probably a variety of factors combined. We do understand that it is not something that can be forced on someone, or something that someone can choose to be. It is not something that happens because of childhood experiences or something that is a personal choice. It is just there if it is there.
How do we Diagnose it?
Is there a transgender test? As it is a subjective experience, the only person that can actually diagnose it is the person living with the feelings. There is no test, blood test or scan. It is not something someone chooses to be, and it is certainly not a mental disorder.
Why Isn’t it Treated by GPs?
Many GPs say that they lack the knowledge to treat those experiencing gender variant conditions and, consequently, they are not confident to do so. We are seeing more GPs learning about this subject and as their knowledge and confidence increases, then they will feel more comfortable in helping their patients better.
Will I Need Hormones?
Hormones are necessary to attain the body changes that fit with the desired gender. In some patients, hormone therapy is enough to give them the inner peace that is missing and not all people need or want to go on to have surgery.
Do I need to be Treated by a Gender Clinic?
Hormone treatment can be started once a working diagnosis of gender dysphoria is obtained. This is possible to be done by a person’s GP, but not many GPs feel that they are able or allowed to do this. more training and help needs to be given in this area. Other people who can help are local endocrinologists, GPs with a special interest or other gender specialists.
Will I have to Live in a Particular Role to get Treatment?
Patients should be allowed to express themselves in a way that makes them feel most comfortable, and to transition as slowly or quickly as is medically safe. They shouldn’t have to dress in a particular way or live in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable in order to gain the correct treatment.
I am Self-Medicating - is this a Problem?
Many people have been forced to start treatment on their own as they have not been able to access the right and safe healthcare for them. If this is the case, then you should ask for your medicines to be swapped into safe prescription medication, and arrange to have monitoring blood tests as soon as needed.
Will I be Penalised if I get Private Care?
The British Medical Association policy that states: “Patients who are entitled to NHS funded treatment may opt into or out of NHS care at any stage. Patients who have had private consultation for investigations and diagnosis may transfer to the NHS for any subsequent treatment. They should be placed directly on the waiting list at the same position as if their original consultation had been within the NHS.”
I Have Other Heart Problems - Does This Mean I Can’t Have Hormones?
If you have liver, heart or blood clotting problems in you or your family, then this does not necessarily mean you can’t have hormone treatment, but you may need more caution and monitoring.
Do I Need to Live in the Opposite Role to Have Treatment?
Your doctor might encourage you to experiment with clothes and features of your desired gender, but they should not make you do anything you are not comfortable with just in order to obtain treatment. It can take time to adjust, but perhaps when it is time for genital surgery, you may be closer to living in the role.
What About Children?
Children should be listened to and understood. Medication to stop puberty is totally reversible and should be used earlier rather than later to help prevent irreversible body changes.