On monday, I had my second appointment with the gender clinic at Charing Cross (which moved to Hammersmith in 1973). The doctor tried a bit too hard to be charming as he asked me all the same questions as I've been asked innumerable times.
He wanted to know my family tree. Do I have any LGBT family members? What's my first memory of gender issues? At what age did I leave school? Do I have any friends? (Would they lend me £20 if I asked?) Do I take drugs? Etc etc etc
He also asked me the last time I wore a dress. "That includes weddings and funerals." I can't remember. I know I put one on occasionally as a joke at Mills. Nicole said it made me look like a footballer in drag for a comedy skit. As it happens, I'm not really into cross-dressing, and I'm not really genderqueer these days. But the question is troubling for transmen who do like to drag it up a bit. It's even more alarming for those dealing with intense family pressures. Do we want to force people into being ostracized so they can get the treatment they need? I don't know what would have happened if I'd said less than 2 years rather than guessing 15.
But, as it worked out, he said I will be having top surgery "rather quickly."!!!!! As soon as my PCT approves the funding. I asked if being here on a student visa was going to be an issue and he pointed out that they were already paying for me to talk to him. He said that the primary concern of doctors is what's best for their patients and described the NHS as a vast left-wing conspiracy.
This was one of those moments when I really love Britain. God bless the NHS! The good doctor also suggested that I become British. I'd love to.
Advice for Migrant Trans People in the UK
The doctor also gave me a very useful bit of advice, that I need to double-check with my university, but which sounds very good. He said that I could change my name in the UK and put off changing my name at home until it's feasible. He says there is no problem having one legal name and gender in one country and a different name and gender in another. I need to verify that I can still get my uni to give me the right forms to extend my student visa, but I think their non-discrimination statement for trans people means they will be willing to deal with the two names problem.
Of course, it's not ideal to carry around a US passport with name change documents. What I need is government-issued ID, ideally with the right name and gender. He told me that I can apply for a provisional drivers liscence. I do not need to learn to drive, it's basically a permit to learn which doubles as a photo ID. He said he knew of a blind person who had one. It stays valid for years and counts as proof of legal residency and can be used as a travel document (instead of a passport) within the EU. He is going to post me a letter which I can use to get the correct gender markers.
I don't know if I'm happiest for finding out I'm getting top surgery or for finding there's an easy solution to my paperwork disaster. I'm also wondering if I can use British documents to bluster my way through getting stuff changed in the US. To change my name in Alameda County, California, I need to publish a notice in the newspaper and then get on a 4+ month waiting list to appear in person, in court. It would be a hassle if I wasn't abroad. Changing my gender on my US passport is even more of a hassle, to the point whre I think becoming a British citizen might even be easier.