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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

I got a prescription

I woke up at an ungodly early hour to phone the doctor's office to ask for an appointment. And they had one, to which I arrived about 5 minutes late. Mornings are not a good time of day for me. I felt sheepish for being late and also pissed off from the day before. But if the desk clerk recognized me, she gave no indication of it. It's amazing something could give me so much angst, but be not even worthy of recognition the next day.

The doctor started everything off by asking me about a note on my gender in my file. So I guess the clerk the day before had tried to be accommodating or whatever. The hardest part about culture shock is that things can really seem like fights or conflicts when they're not.

And it quickly became apparent that I actually am the only ftm going there. The doctor was looking through the NHS prescription database and a little book trying to figure out what prescription to give me. I kind of want my doctors to know more than I do about this stuff, not less.

In the end, she gave me a prescription that I'm going to double check, since she wasn't certain it was equivalent. It's a private prescription. The UK has a really bullshit system where some things are private and some are public. So the NHS paid for my visit this morning. They'll pay for the needles. She wasn't sure if they would cover the T. It turns out to be pretty expensive. 33£ / per shot. So I'll be paying about £100 for my next 3 shots. Yikes.

What's fucked up about this is that a NHS doctor is totally empowered to prescribe it and I'm totally empowered to go get it. But they don't want to pay for it. Or might not. I don't have a shrink letter saying I should transition, which is required documentation. But I arrived in the midst of my transition, so they might be willing to pay because I followed the rules in my home country.

I didn't ask if I could start jumping through hoops here in order to get coverage. Because the doctor let slip that they require two years of therapy. Two fucking years!

I don't know what the writers of these rules imagine, but in my admittedly limited experience, people realize they're trans on their own. Then they try to ignore / resist it, usually, because it's kind of a pain in the ass and has the tiniest bit of a stigma attached. I'm under the impression that most people wait until they're at their wits end before they even think of broaching the subject with a doctor.

So they take people, adults, who are at their wits ends, who have held off as long as they can, who probably have really terrible anxiety, and they spend two years trying to talk them out of it? What could some fucking doctor say that I hadn't thought of myself? Have you considered that maybe you're just a butch lesbian? Gee, what a crazy idea. And all the while scrutinizing you, trying to figure out if you're trans enough. You better double check that your shirts button on the correct side before you go in. Maybe it's not like this. I don't know. I've never done it. But two fucking years, what could they possibly doing during all that time? Do the writers of said rules imagine that people impulsively transition? Do they think everybody would do it? Are they struggling to hold themselves in abeyance? Do they have conversations about "thank god for the rules or who knows what genitals I might have woken up to after that last office party!"

But if I can get it privately, it means they're not protecting themselves from transitioning in a haphazard manner. They're protecting poor people. In the US, the unemployment rate among transgender people is alarmingly high. 50% of mtfs lose their jobs - regardless of class or job. I imagine the situation here is similar. So if you want to skip your two years, you better have inherited wealth and a tolerant family who won't cut you off. The National Health isn't a privilege, it's a right. If some MP is trying to entice trans people to go outside the system and forgo their rights, well, there's a word for that: "Discrimination."

Again, they must imagine we're out on a lark.

So maybe it would be worth it to go and talk to a shrink, as long as I don't have to put things off while doing it. If I get a letter for my last few months here, then that's a few months of not having to pay so damn much out of pocket. Also, note that the shots are the cheap way of doing things and I really want to find a less stabby delivery method. England is taking a lot of my money. I'm not asking for more than I'm paying in.

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