I feel I must warn you, this post may simply turn into a love letter to Dr Lorimer. He is quite possibly one of the kindest and most understanding doctors I have ever met. If those of you in the UK decide to go the Private route to get on testosterone, then for the love of goodness, go with Gender Care and request Dr Lorimer!
Now I have that out of the way…
For a long time I had been determined that I wouldn’t go Private. I had every faith that I’d be able to transition on the NHS with little to no problems at all. But god how wrong I was. I spent many years being passed on from medical professional to medical professional. My details were lost on many occasion. Some of the people I was sent to had no idea why I was sent to them because gender transition simply wasn’t their area ( I had at one point been sent to a therapist who specialises in schizophrenia. We were both very confused ).
As said in my post about transitioning on the NHS, they are overworked, understaffed and underpaid. Most of them do not have the training required to deal with trans issues and that is the problem at hand here, not the people themselves. I was told once by a fellow trans person ( when I had told them that I felt a counsellor I’d been sent to didn’t care at all ) that they are not paid enough to care.
That sounds terribly harsh, but really it makes a lot of sense. When you’re cramming as many people into as many appointments as possible into each day, working overtime and sometimes not getting days off due to demand and your pay not reflecting your hard work; caring is the last thing you’re going to be able to dredge up the energy to do.
It got to a point where trying to transition was causing me more dysphoria than not doing anything at all. So, after a long conversation with my housemates it was decided that I would go private. I e-mailed GenderCare and was surprised when I received a reply four days later. I had gotten so used to hearing nothing at all for months on end that I genuinely didn’t believe it had happened so quickly.
I was given four dates to choose from and told how much my first appointment with Dr Lorimer would cost ( £220 ) and then my second appointment with Dr Seal would cost £220. In the e-mail I was asked the following questions:
What name do you prefer to be known by (for example, when we meet you)?
How old are you?
Are you with other gender services, private or NHS?
Are you living, day to day, as you’d like to live, gender-wise? If not, what needs to change?
What’s your objective in approaching GenderCare – what would you like from us?
I was also asked to bring the following to my appointments:
My GP’s address
Relevant letters relating to past or current treatment
My name change document (if you’ve changed your name)
A list of current medication
Proof of age (passport, driving license)
A supportive friend or relative, if I wanted to
Dr Lorimer will make the assessment which he will then send on to Dr Seal. When you see Dr Seal, you will need to take along blood test results, so make sure to have those done in advance!
I was expecting to be waiting at least a year for my first appointment, but instead less than a week after I’d sent over all my details, I had an appointment made for two months later. I was so so shocked that I just burst into tears as I read the e-mail. And then panic set in. I didn’t have time to save the money I needed. I thought that I’d have plenty of time. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.
Cue another house meeting and the housemates offered to loan me the money and I could save up and give it them back. I gratefully accepted and then e-mailed GenderCare to confirm my appointment.
I’ll be honest here, I was terrified when I first walked into to Dr Lorimer’s office, but he put me at ease straight away. Not one single slip up with pronouns ( seems like an odd thing to mention, but I had so many medical professionals insist on calling my by the wrong pronouns no matter how many times I corrected them ) he didn’t make comment on the fact that I wasn’t wearing a binder or packer ( it was so very hot outside and I couldn’t do it. Which probably added to my nerves ) he warned me when a question he was about to ask could possibly be triggering and he was just so kind and understanding. Even had a box of tissues on hand when I started crying due to having to talk about painful things I experienced growing up.
There was a bit of a wait between seeing Dr Lorimer and Dr Seal. I think it was five months, maybe five and a half. But I wasn’t too downhearted as I was actually on the way to medically transitioning. I was been taken seriously for the first time in years and it felt wonderful.
My appointment with Dr Seal was relatively short in comparison to my first one. He is a very blunt but very kind man with a wicked sense of humour. He does not ease you into things as much as Dr Lorimer does, but he is patient and very understanding. He went through my medical history with me and went through the pros and cons of different types of testosterone ( I ended up choosing to go on the gel ) and then after ten minutes of banter he gives me a wide grin and says “Well then, [REDACTED] lets get you some testosterone, shall we?”
I must have looked a picture. Just gawking at him like he’d grown a second head or something. I asked him to repeat what he’d just said and he grinned even wider giving him the appearance of a very friendly shark and repeated what he’d said. He was going to write me up a prescription for testosterone.
Less than a week later I was on my way to the pharmacy and I was picking up my first box of testim gel. It was all a little dreamlike to be honest. Now, since I was on a Private prescription, I had to pay Private fees for my testosterone. So I was paying £30 a box ( per month ). But! Both Dr Lorimer and Dr Seal wrote me letters to take to my GP so I could go on shared care. Basically, I get my diagnosis privately but my care with the NHS.
It wasn’t as quick as I would have liked. I spent five months paying the Private fee as, bluntly, a lot of NHS doctors don’t like to work with Private doctors. And there was a lot of gatekeeping all over again. At one point I was refused a prescription from my GP and I had to e-mail GenderCare again and ask them to put a bit of pressure on. Which they did in the form of sending me another letter, and it was all soon sorted after that.
So I now just pay the NHS fee which is £8.50. Which is so much more manageable than what I was paying before! I am still on the waiting list for Charing Cross for future appointments. But… I think I am going to stay with GenderCare. It will take a little time to save up money for the appointments, but with Private care they have more time to see you and take you through things properly. And you get treated like a human being instead of just a number on the waiting list they need to get in and out quickly.
This is in no way the fault of the NHS, but I need to do what is best for me and my health. I just hope that our government sees sense and puts more money time and effort into the NHS. It needs all the help it can get.
GenderCare’s website: gendercare.co.uk
Dr Lorimer’s Twitter: @GenderCareDrL
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