en English

During Dr Helen Webberley’s hearing we’re bringing you Transitions, a new mini-series from the GenderGP podcast. GenderGP team member, Cleo Madeleine, will be joined by members of the community to talk about the journeys they have been on, the transitions they have been through and the moments that changed everything.

Chloe’s Twitter is @drcrog. More information about their work and resource can be found on the 16point6 website. If you’ve got a story of your own you’d like to share, why not reach out on social media where you can find us at @GenderGP on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

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We are always happy to accept ideas for future shows, so if there is something in particular you would like us to discuss, or a specific guest you would love to hear from, let us know. Your feedback is really important to us. If you could take a minute or two to leave us a review and rating for the podcast on your favourite podcast app, it will help others to discover us.

 

The GenderGP Podcast

Transitions: Chloe

 

Cleo Madeleine:
Hi everybody. And welcome back to the GenderGP podcast. I’m Cleo Madeline. My pronouns are she/her and with me and the studio today is Chloe. Chloe. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what it is that you do.

Chloe Rogers:
Yeah. Hi everyone. Thanks Cleo for inviting me on the podcast. Really excited to be here. My name is Chloe Rogers. I’m a junior doctor currently working in Hampshire. My pronouns are they, she and I do a lot of work, both in, in my job and outside involving getting people, um, up to speed and educated about trans healthcare and non-binary healthcare in the UK today.

Cleo Madeleine:
Thank you so much. So on this mini series so far, we’ve had lots of different healthcare professionals, um, people involved at various stages in the development and of gender affirming care. We’ve not had any actual doctors yet. So if we start at the beginning, what was it that motivated you to get into the medical profession?

Chloe Rogers:
So I sort of picked my GCSEs basically, uh, based on the fact that I wanted to do medicine. So quite a long time ago. Um, I think I it’s a very cliche answer, but I just really enjoy helping people. Um, and as I sort of got more into, um, my a levels and then my, my first degree, um, I did medical science cuz I, uh, needed an a in chemistry and I got a B. So I went and did medical science, which was the best thing that could have, could have happened cuz I had the chance to meet so many people that I would never have met. Um, including lots of people who sort of helped me find my own way in the LGBTQ community. I didn’t come out until I went to uni mainly cuz I didn’t know. Um, and through doing that, I found out a lot more about the issues sort of inherent to the healthcare system in the UK and also things that can come up as a result of different healthcare professionals, um, behaving in different ways or different systems, um, working in different ways, in different parts of the country. So yeah, in terms of sort of getting into medicine, it’s something that I always wanted to do. And in terms of getting into this particular part of medicine, it’s been very informed, um, sort of as I’ve gone through my university career, uh, from my friends and, and those around me.

Cleo Madeleine:
Yeah. I guess actually having that lived experience makes a real difference, not just in terms of clarifying what you want to do, but how you want to do it.

Chloe Rogers:
Yeah, I think so. And I, I think one of the things I found, um, quite strange actually sort of when I started this, I, so yeah, I started off in this community, um, makes it sound like a job doesn’t it started out in this community. <laugh> um, when I, when I was <laugh> when I was 18, um, and I, I trained in Birmingham, it was amazing. And there were so many people who just had done so much and just knew so much. And I had no concept of the fact that there was so much to know about so much just to do with, um, the LGBTQ community. I just didn’t have that background essentially, um, when I was growing up. So yeah, I, I relied a lot as I got more into the work I do. Um, I did rely a lot on the experience of my trans and non-binary friends, um, to sort of highlight to me the main issues that were faced. And I found that I had, um, the privilege, I guess, to sort of take that to, um, you know, seniors at my medical school who would be able to implement change with regards to that where they necessarily, they didn’t necessarily feel they had that.

Cleo Madeleine:
Yeah, for sure. So you you’ve gone to medical school, which is presumably a huge undertaking and developed this particular interest in improving access to healthcare for LGBTQ plus people. What’s that been like, have you found that there’s resistance to it? Have you found that there’s like, uh, a demand for it?

Chloe Rogers:
Um, yeah. Yeah. So there is definitely demand for it. Definitely. Um, any, I find anything EDI related medical schools love, um, because they really, they like to, um, be as inclusive or at least appear to be as inclusive as possible. Um, mm-hmm <affirmative> and I found that the, my medical school personally was very, um, engaged with sort of what I was saying in terms of what I was asking them to do. But when it actually came down to kind of implementing stuff, um, of their own volition, it of it didn’t necessarily materialize. So I ended up writing my own resource, um, sort of over the course of a few months and, and presenting that to the medical school. And basically saying, here you go, here it is. There’s something done that you can show to the students that you can use to teach with that you don’t have to think about. So now you’ve not got an excuse not to use it. So mm-hmm <affirmative>, there is definitely demand, but the materialization of things and, you know, tangible resources to use is, is often still reliant on the work of students. And those with lived experience producing that material.

Cleo Madeleine:
It’s so tricky, isn’t it? Because I, I had the same problem. I mean, I continued to have the same problem with my university and I know that in various different aspects, we’ve had it in my work at GenderGP in terms of like providing resources to other institutions, both public and private that simultaneously you don’t, you want the resources to be there, but there just isn’t the interest or the funding for them to be made by the institutions themselves. And time and time again, you see them coming from people who are lower down in the hierarchy, people who are doing it because they’ve experienced inequality or, or inequity. And now they want to rectify that. And I, I definitely don’t have the answer is, but I, I really want to kind of look forward to a system where doing this kind of work happens as standard rather than sort of hoping that, you know, with each new intake of students or, or whatever, that there will be someone who will keep doing this work.

Chloe Rogers:
Yeah. I, I think that that’s something that I was very sort of aware of when I was at university. I, I was at Birmingham for seven years and I was very aware when I was coming to the end of my, my time there that I wanted to leave something behind. It didn’t necessarily have to be something concrete that was going to be in a curriculum, or that was definitely going to be used as a teaching resource, but I at least wanted to leave something that those coming in after me, so into the med SOC, um, LGBTQ society could build on, um, which I think is why I yeah. Put together that resource. And I think it’s something that I’m facing now in my current job where I’m sort of trying to get things that are concrete, just set in some sort of format yeah. Within the inclusion network, because I don’t want, I don’t want to leave and have not, at least tried to do something about the, in the inequalities that I’ve seen and, you know, the things that people have said to me in the trans and nonbinary members have staff have said to, to me, um, sort of could do with changing or could do with at least looking at like, I need to do something with that information. I can’t just leave that hanging. Um, so yeah, I think it’s, you’re right. It’s about leaving something for those who come after so that you are not reinventing the wheel every time.

Cleo Madeleine:
So if we’ve got any listeners who are in the position that you were, let’s say three or four years ago, and want to think about how to leave a mark, do you have any advice about how to go about that? Whether it’s at university or in the workplace, how you sort of set about leaving that legacy?

Chloe Rogers:
So I think the first thing I try to do is look for other stuff that had been done. And there is a lot of stuff. I mean, the internet is a wonderful place. There is so much stuff out there that people have created already that you can use at least as a template to show your university or your workplace, that this is the kind of work that’s being done. And this is the kind of work that can support something within your institution, um, on a sort of personal attack and a shameless plug for that. I’m working with a, a group from St. George’s at the moment to produce an online, um, module. So a, a four week is four sessions, but designed to be done for four weeks that is designed to be accessible by anyone who works, um, within the NHS is what we’ve gone for. But I suppose any healthcare setting, both clinical and nonclinical to essentially educate them about the needs of trans and non-binary people in the UK today with regards to healthcare, moving on to some of the, um, I suppose more medical stuff with regards to, um, use of hormones and hormone regimes and things like that, but also setting all of that within a, a cultural context of what it is to be trans and nonbinary in the UK today, and how that crosses over with different, um, intersectional identities with some then case studies at the end. And the thought is that people will be able to use that free of charge. It’s not behind a paywall, um, in their workplace to then inform their own teaching and practice going forward and whether that’s personal practice or whether that’s something that then gets implemented in the institution. And that’s, that’s what we’re, that’s what we are aiming for. So, yeah, I think the first thing is to look for resources like that. So hopefully that one will be out soon for anyone who wants to have a look at that and then going forward, I think just keep, keep pushing, keep being passionate. Basically, I found that you just have to keep badgering people until they eventually give in and let you do what you want to do within, within a curriculum.

Cleo Madeleine:
I can’t support that enough every single time, you know, an activist project or, you know, a, some kind of socia justice issue comes to, or I feel like the number one thing is always just keep the spirit alive because it can be gr it can grind you down, right? Yeah,

Chloe Rogers:
For sure. For sure. And I found, yeah, when I was, when I was at uni, I found that there were times when I’d send, you know, however many emails I would send in a week or in a month, um, and just nothing would really happen. I, and I appreciate that people have other pressures on their time, but when you are emailing the person who to your mind is supposed to be the person who is dealing with EDI stuff in your institution, and you’re not getting anything back that to me, feels like there’s a problem with that, that role or with that person’s time if they’re not able to address that.

Cleo Madeleine:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, if they’re the per, if they’re the person dealing with EDI and you are the EDI, and you are not being listened to, then it really does sort, uh, it, it, it makes you ask, where are the lines of communication? How are you supposed to bring this up?

Chloe Rogers:
Absolutely. Absolutely. And yeah, I think I found that, you know, if, if I was not as tenacious as I am, I can see how these things would fall down. And, you know, even if people just haven’t got the time to chase it up, you know, every one’s got their own lives and if you’re a medical student or if you are, you’ve got a full time job and you’ve got other pressures on your time, you know, kids, other jobs, whatever it might be. Mm. You haven’t got the time necessarily to keep battering people to do the job they should already be doing. Yes. Um, so I think that’s something that’s quite hard to deal with sometimes and something that it quite demoralizing, but my advice to people would just be, try and find a, a group or find a tribe. I found it so much easier when I could get a group of people together to keep badgering. Cause then at least you can take it in turns sending the emails <laugh>.

Cleo Madeleine:
Yeah. One of the things I’ve always thought as well is if you don’t have that community right now, even consider being the person who starts that. Yeah. You know, um, sometimes you’ll be fortunate enough, like, you know, like you’ve mentioned earlier, like I’ve had as well to have like a really good queer community around you. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, but even if you feel like that’s not the case, trying start an LGBT group within your, um, workspace or within your, uh, school at university, if there isn’t one there anyway, might it might be the thing that not only furnishes you with the network to take some of the pressure off you for, you know, doing in this kind of activism, it might also put that network in place for however many other people who like you are needing that support, but don’t have

Chloe Rogers:
It. Yeah, exactly. And you can even go proper old school and use like email threads, you know, it doesn’t have to be in person and in, you know, the world of online as we are now sort of, um, per-pandemic, I suppose we, we found actually that it’s really is much easier to get people to come to events now and to get people to engage with this kind of material. Um, I did an event about this time last year with the, uh, trans NHS staff network. Um, and Tara Hue and, and it was incredible, there was 170 people, um, at this event. And, you know, I, that was sort of just after I’d left uni, the maximum number of people I’d had in that event was probably 35 at best. So having 170 people who had voluntarily sort of given their time to come to this event was incredible. Yeah. And I think, yeah, people should take reassurance and encouragement from the fact that the online world we live in now is very flexible and very dynamic in how they can build those communities. And as I say, even if you go proper old school and you just have an email thread and you send out a tiny little newsletter, or even a news flyer, you know, once every six weeks, like that could make all the difference to both of you for having someone to send it to and to the people receiving it, knowing that someone’s sort of looking out for them.

Cleo Madeleine:
Absolutely. Yeah. Funnily enough, that’s pretty much word for word. One of the main reasons we started doing this little podcast spinoff project, because yeah. There’s not necessarily some great artistic purpose behind getting a bunch of members of the community to talk to each other, but it does mean something to be able to just share our stories, share what we’re doing, share our advice and have people listen to that. Yeah, definitely. I, I often think that the rise of the internet and the rise of social media in particular has been this tremendous double-edged sword for queer people. Because on the one hand, obviously it’s fueled some of the, like most tremendous rises in, in hate groups in their actions of the modern age. But also it has taken us out of a time when, if you didn’t have a local LGBT network, then that was it. You were on your own into this period where you can find those, you can find your people out there.

Chloe Rogers:
Yeah, definitely. And I, I think a lot of it is just having a space where at the very foundations you’re just allowed to be, you’re just allowed to yes. Exist. And no one’s going, gonna question why you are existing in that space. And I think on a very, very simplistic level, and I, I don’t often like to reduce it down to such simplistic terms, but I think this kind of education work that I do for the healthcare professionals that I talk to at the very foundation of it, I just want them to be in a position where a trans or non-binary person will come in for a consultation and they’re just allowed to exist. And they don’t feel like they have to explain why they’re trans or how they’re trans or what they’re transness means to their, and they literally just come in because they need a refill on their prescription, or they need, I dunno, a sick note for work or a fit to fly certificate anything, but they’re just allowed to exist. And I want as much as I want trans people and non-binary people to feel comfortable with being able to do that, I need healthcare professionals to understand that they too can be comfortable in that. Yes, but that their comfort is not the first priority. And that actually, yes, if they’re feeling uncomfortable, they need to understand how that will impact the person in their consultation and therefore how that’s gonna impact their entire dynamic with that person. And, and medical schools teach a lot about this, you know, lots of medical schools place, lots of emphasis on clinical communication and how body language and how the words you use can mean different things to different people in different cultural contexts. And don’t get me wrong. They don’t always teach it very well, but they, the, but the, the template for this teaching does already exist. They just don’t know how to sort of map it onto other identities. And then they’re also not necessarily always prepared to pay someone to tell them how, or to fund the research that would, uh, allow them to develop how so it is there. And it, it is possible. We just need a bit more sort of from the, the institutions to take a bit of responsibility and, and put it all together. 100%, I think. Yeah. I think you ask any <laugh> I think you ask any trans on non-binary person and they’ll be 100% on board with more, um, from the institutions. But so it sounds like you’ve done it done done what sounds like a huge amount of work in a relatively short space of time, moving us towards this improved education, this improve and this improved availability of education, which I think is really important. Um, like one of the things that really struck me about the work you’re talking about with St George’s is how good it is that it’s not just about doing the education. It’s about making sure that as many people as possible can access it. Yeah, no, definitely. And the thing that we have found with this resource, so there’s, there’s five of us, um, students and the alumnis that are working on it in terms of content creation. And the thing we found is that all five of us at some point have tried to do this kind of resource on our own. Um, and we’ve realized through doing all together and it’s taken us a year, will take us over a year to complete. There’s no way you could ever do it on your own. And this, the resource that I’m building now is the resource I wanted to build four or five years ago. And looking back at it now, I never, ever could have done it. And I certainly couldn’t have done it in my own time for free without having the time to do it because I was also trying to get a medical degree. I think it’s the sort of lack of understanding from the wider healthcare society of the, the amount of work that it takes to put something like this together. And it’s not a case of just asking a trans person or asking, um, you know, someone who’s done a bit of reading to do an hour long presentation, like that’s, that’s never, ever gonna be enough. And it’s, I’m coming. I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that actually those aren’t the sorts of events that I should be or should want to be doing, because I, I don’t feel that they are, um, I don’t feel like they are effective in the way that I need them to be effective anymore. Yeah. And I, I can’t think who it was that I saw on the internet a few weeks ago, but they were essentially talking about how we need to move away from the, the idea of a trans 101. So a sort of introductory lecture to, um, trans healthcare and gender affirming healthcare, because actually it’s too reductive. And I think if you are, if you are unlucky the audience, you’ve got can take that as, oh, I’ve, I’ve done it. I’ve I understand now all about this thing. And, and I don’t have to do anymore for myself because I’ve sat through the thing. And I now understand, so when I do have an hour to talk on these things, I’m increasingly moving towards a model of more, uh, sort of cultural impact and the wider social setting of gender affirming healthcare and how actually it’s not, you know, a very, very small part of it is about the hormone regimes or the fact that this is the vocabulary you should use, but the, the bit that people need to know, and the bit that I think is quite difficult to access, if you are not within the community and within the space, is that feels to people and how that impacts upon their entire lives. But in saying that how actually it doesn’t, it doesn’t impact on the lives of everyone else, cuz that’s obviously what everyone’s upset about. Isn’t it that, you know, gender affirming healthcare is gonna be the, you know, downfall of society and yes, yes. I’m increasingly moving towards a session. Actually, we talk a lot more about that and we need to unpack, I’m looking at unpacking the moral quandries of those in my audience rather than trying to add stuff to them. Because I think trying to add education to them that they can’t access because the template they already have in their head is wrong. Isn’t helpful. Yes. So yes, that’s where I’m, that’s the space I’m in now. It’s very transitional and, and I I’m looking for audiences to test it out on. So, um, I think that’s where I’m certainly looking to move towards. And I think where a few other people are looking to move towards as well.

Cleo Madeleine:
I mean, I’m thrilled to hear it personally because I think you’re absolutely right. But particularly when we’re looking at the bigger picture of how we affect social change around rights, around healthcare for trans and non-binary people, you know, you can’t go in and debate the, I don’t even know what to say. The media, the anti-trans voices, you need to go to the heart of the social phenomenon and try and change the foundation. Yeah, I think you’re, I think you’re absolutely right. And I’m so excited to hear about more attempts in that direction. So we are, uh, getting close to running out of time. But what I wanted to wrap up with was say, we’ve heard this absolutely fabulous journey from, you know, going into medicine to help people, to starting to effect genuine change around the provision of education around trans and non-binary healthcare. Are there any particular moments that stand out to you in that journey that really made a difference to you or that really kind of changed something for you?

Chloe Rogers:
I think when I, I think when I was in my third year of medicine, so it would’ve been about my fifth or sixth year at university, I got asked to be, um, on my first panel for this, um, you know, sort of gender affirming healthcare talk, um, at, at, uh, trust in my university. And I didn’t really know sort of what that meant. And I, I sort of, I said, yeah, but I didn’t really know what that meant in terms of, you know, the audience I’d be speaking to and the kind of, um, the kind of material that they would need access to in order to understand what I was saying. Um, and yeah, I remember turning up to that event and sort of sat through the morning session, listening to it. Um, and I could see various people in the audience who I follow on Twitter and things, and I’m like, oh, they’re a big deal on Twitter. And they’re like, they’re here listening to this conference. And, um, and I knew that none of them were on the panel with me. So I was like, oh, I’m gonna be talking in front of these people who are a big deal on Twitter. So, so that was quite exciting. And, and since then having actually engaged with quite a few of these people and now being relatively close contacts with, with some of these people, I think you, you see it as a sort of level up moment, bit like a, you know, like when Mario eats a toadstool and he sort of goes big a bit. Yeah. <laugh> it’s, it was a bit like that. I thought, oh, this is my first toadstool. Um, and, and now I’m big. So, so yeah, it, it is quite exciting when you get asked to do things, things like that. And I, that, that one in particular, I remember cuz it was my first one. Um, and since then, I suppose hosting my own, um, event, the, the event last year with, with Tara and the trans staff network, um, that was another big moment in terms of me realizing that I could organize these things more on my own if I wanted. And I, yes, I didn’t have to sort of wait for someone to ask me, like I would be able to put this kind of thing together if I needed to mm-hmm <affirmative> and if I wanted to exactly how I wanted, which is the plan I’ve got, um, at, at the moment with, um, some people I’ve got who I know on Twitter, so watch this space.

Cleo Madeleine:
That’s so exciting. And I think that’s really important for our listeners to be able to hear as well, because, you know, obviously you’ve put in an enormous amount of hard work and effort and mental and emotional energy, but it’s good. It’s good to be able to see, to hear that trajectory and be able to say, well, maybe I can do that too.

Chloe Rogers:
Yeah. People, people definitely can. And I think if you’re, if you’re a medical student at university, it’s one of the best times to try and get an event like that together, because it’s one of the only times that you’ll have access to big lecture theaters for free and you get funding from, you know, if I was very lucky that my, um, my med SOC was very well funded and we had quite a bit of money to do things, but yeah, I mean, get in touch with your student union or sort of whatever funding group it would be, cuz being at university is one of the only times in your life where you’re gonna have access to that amount of resources to, to put on that kind of event and, you know, publicity and things like that as well. So team up with other unis, if you can, um, I know that, you know, Glasgow, Edinborough, Shefield Birmingham, Liverpool, um, have all done amazing work, um, in this area they’ve have, they’ve all got very, very good, um, med student groups that do a lot of work on this stuff. So if you’re in any of those universities, talk to the others, if you’re not, and I miss you, please get in touch with me and let me know where you are. Cuz I think it would be really good to have a, um, yeah, like a nationwide med student conference basically at some point I think that would be amazing.

Cleo Madeleine:
That would be incredible. Absolutely. And yeah, if you’ve got any like particular contacts or anything you’d like us to share, then we’ll drop in the episode description so people can get in touch.

Chloe Rogers:
I’m on Twitter, I’m on Instagram. I’ve got any email that I don’t mind people emailing. I’ll give all the details. My Twitter is probably the easiest to find it’s @ Drcrog D R C R OG. And then my website is at 16.6 LGBTQ, which if you put that into Google, people should be able to find it.

Cleo Madeleine:
Perfect. Wonderful. We’ll get all that in the episode description and make sure that we can get some in people your way. I mean, after becoming your way, because I’m so excited by this project, you know, my background is, is medical humanities and not medical profession, but I honestly, I can’t get enough of this stuff. Unfortunately that’s probably all we’ve got time for, although I could quite happily keep talking to you for the rest of the day.

Chloe Rogers:
Oh, I love, I love chatting this stuff.

Cleo Madeleine:
It Is just the best stuff in the world and it makes me so happy and it makes me so hopeful as well. You know, I woke up this morning, it’s absolutely nailing it down in Norwich and I was properly miserable getting out of bed. Now I’m just gonna be going around the rest of the day being like, oh, the things that we can do, you know, <laugh>,

Chloe Rogers:
It’s like, I’m gonna take over the world today.

Cleo Madeleine:
Yeah, literally. So thank you so much for coming onto the podcast and for bringing this amazing energy.

Chloe Rogers:
Oh no, thank you so much for having me. Yeah. It’s really amazing to be able to sort of talk to a group of like-minded people. And um, as I say, get in touch with me. If you’ve got any ideas, we’d love to love, to love to hear them.

Cleo Madeleine:
Wonderful. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening. If you’d like to find out more about gender GP or the kinds of services that they can offer, then you can go to our website, which is www.gendergp.com or if you’ve got your own story to share or a suggestion for a future podcast, then you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at GenderGP. Please do get in touch.