I’m Dora. I’m 46 and a transgender woman. All of these things are true, and they will remain true, whether you approve or agree.
Four years ago, I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This was after two long sessions of analysis with a psychiatrist. I had been referred to him by my GP. The psychiatrist in turn referred me to a Gender Identity Clinic.
In the UK, these clinics provide assessment, support and treatment for those suffering from gender dysphoria. They are staffed by dedicated, hard working medical experts; psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses. They are chronically underfunded. The wait until my first appointment was two years.
After my first appointment, there were two more. Each was a lengthy session, led by a different psychiatrist or psychologist. After a year of assessment, along with various tests, we agreed on the best course of action. In my case, it was to commence on hormones, and subsequently, to change my name, to ‘live as a woman’ as the clumsy phrase goes, to use women’s pronouns, women’s facilities, to declare myself a woman on all official documents, and ultimately, to have surgery to align my body with my gender identity.
This will not be the case for everyone. One of the most absurd slurs against the NHS Gender Identity Clinics is that they are ‘rushing’ people onto hormones. The two year waiting list alone would suggest that isn’t the case, but beyond that, all of the medical professionals who assessed me were clear that the aim was to find a solution that worked for me, that enabled me to live with my gender dysphoria. They don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. So for others, full transition would not be a solution. For me, it was.
At every stage, caution was the theme. My oestrogen dose was increased gradually, then a testosterone blocker was introduced. I came out, one at a time, to everyone I knew, changed my name by deed poll and, step by step, constructed a new life. The treatment worked and is working. My linked anxiety and depression have faded. I am calmer, happier. I feel life is worth living. I feel optimistic. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
My experience, by the way, is typical. Transition, after a period of counselling and assessment, has been shown time and again to be the best treatment for gender dysphoria. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than the alternatives, which, as far as I can tell, are denial or conversion therapy? Unquestionably.
A tiny minority of those who transition ultimately de-transition. This can be for a variety of reasons, but whatever the reason, those who de-transition should be fully supported. The good news is that, in the UK at least, they are. The same staff who helped me with my transition would continue to help me if I had found that transition wasn’t right for me.
So that is my reality. I am living my life. I am happy. I am supported and loved by my family and friends, for which I am extremely grateful.
You should note here, that I didn’t become a transgender woman because of an argument, a debate or because I signed up to an ideology. None of those things, therefore, are going to stop me being a transgender woman.
My reaction to those who approach me online with such arguments as ‘A man can’t be a woman’ or ‘I identify as an attack helicopter’ or ‘What about this other trans woman who did a bad thing?’ is to shrug. None of these things have the slightest impact on my gender dysphoria or my treatment.
Let’s say you win a ‘debate’ with me over whether I am a man or a woman, and you prove conclusively that I am not a woman, or you convincingly demonstrate that gender isn’t real. Well, congratulations. The thing is, when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will still have gender dysphoria, the best treatment for it will still be transition and I will still be a trans woman.
All that you are doing with these ‘debates’ and arguments about ‘gender ideology’ (incidentally, a popular phrase among far right groups who think a woman’s place is in the home) is making my life slightly more difficult. All you are doing when you bang on about ‘no male bodies in women’s spaces’ is making it that little bit more likely that trans women, butch lesbians, non-binary women, indeed anyone who doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes, will feel more reluctant to use those spaces, will be more likely to stay home, will find being themselves in public harder. Is that a worthy aim?
When it comes to children, it is perfectly reasonable to want to be sure that children who may have gender dysphoria are properly treated and assessed. If that is your concern, well you’re in luck, because the NHS staff who work in this area are highly trained, dedicated professionals, backed up by decades of research and long-established rules, safeguards and protocols.
You may have doubts or questions about aspects of the assessment or treatment process. So why not address your questions to experts? Why not seek reassurance from those who work in this area? Go along to meetings, listen, learn, read the relevant research, ask more questions. But have the humility to admit that, unless you have any qualifications or experience in this field, you won’t be in a position of authority, so anything you might blurt out on social media will not be adding to the conversation. That goes for billionaire authors, sitcom writers, comedians or Times journalists, as much as it does for other members of the general public.
Although none of your social media arguments, your lengthy ‘poor me’ newspaper columns, your conspiracy theories or your mockery and cruelty will add anything to the conversation, there is a good chance that it will be distressing or hurtful to those suffering from gender dysphoria. It is likely to be extremely insulting to the NHS staff working in this area. Above all, it won’t make the slightest difference to the fact that I, and thousands of others like me, will still have gender dysphoria.
Are there malicious and unpleasant trans women out there? Sure. In the history of humanity there has yet to be a demographic completely free of scumbags. But if your argument that I am not a trans woman relies on your sending me pictures of a trans woman criminal, well, again, I will shrug. What has that to do with me? Would you send a Muslim a photo of Osama Bin Laden as an argument? Come to think of it, would you argue that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed on public transport? I doubt you would. You would recognise that your fear of a theoretical terrorist attack should not be allowed to outweigh your basic humanity and rationality.
As for the argument that malicious men will pretend to be women to ‘access’ women’s spaces, well, this just tells me that you aren’t even being serious. Often this is put forward as an argument against Self ID. But, as you know (or as you should know) Self ID relates to a speeding up of the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Why get a GRC? To change your birth certificate. Do you need a GRC to use the ladies? Do you need a GRC to use the women’s changing rooms at a department store? Do you need a GRC to use the relevant facilities at a leisure centre? No, no and no.
So tell me again how Self ID has anything to do with toilets? Please also explain why a predatory man would go to the lengths of pretending to be a woman to access the women’s toilets, when he could just dress as a cleaner or wait until there was no-one else around? While you’re at it, you might also like to explain why those countries that have introduced a speeded up GRC process have recorded no increase in such incidents.
I am assuming that none of you would dream of getting between someone suffering from depression and their doctor. You wouldn’t second guess the diagnosis of someone you’ve never met, bang on about whether depression was real, talk about pharmaceutical-Soros conspiracies or share stories about people with depression committing crimes. You wouldn’t do that because it would be wrong, cruel and frankly absurd.
Yet you do feel able to do that in the case of trans men and women. The gloves are off, it seems. Well, I can’t stop you being cruel, abusive, malicious, unkind or bigoted. Just bear in mind that none of it, not a single argument, link to a crackpot article, meme, news story, opinion column or theory will make even 1% of difference to the fact that I have gender dysphoria, that the treatment in my case is transition, and that I am a trans woman.
Some people are trans. At some point, you’re going to have to deal with it. It might as well be now.