Thursday, 31 January 2008

Winning or Losing? Who knows? And do I care anymore?

Its been a frustrating few days though there’s nothing new there in terms of my life. At the end of it I’m really not sure if I’m making any progress or not.

The Gender Recognition Panel decided it needed both of my decree absolute from the divorce proceedings from my two prior marriages.

Nothing difficult there providing you have them which I don’t so quick web search revealed a spoof government web site offering to get them for an £80 each fee. Hummm well I didn’t fall for that con so I rang the courts. Burton upon Trent wasn’t very helpful – what is it about Staffordshire does the water make you a surly git? Leicester Court was great though a lovely lady sent me the forms for The Central Records Office and I sent them off today with fee of £40 each fee. Now the Court Service Web Site http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk doesn’t have the forms – no collusion is there with that other site? Anyway that’s where you go for a copy of any court document.

I got the copy of my GP’s letter to the PCT and yes it sort of does what I wanted. Final sentence is “I would be grateful if you could reply to this specific request in view of the fact that there is no current commissioning pathway in place for South Staffordshire PCT” The request being a direct referral to Mr Phil Thomas gender reassignment surgeon. I have a feeling it isn’t going to be a simple yes or no but then I’ll ratchet it up if it’s a policy fudge blanket ban which is what has happened so far.

On the personal front “L” and I have split the cost of the train fare to Gravesend so I may be going there at end of February for a break. The problem is I desperately need some rest & recuperation and I worry that “L” & I are simply too intense to achieve anything remotely like that. What I’d do to get a few days away in the sunshine I’d better not say in this blog. A holiday is what I need but it doesn’t look any closer to me.

Finally I bumped into "J" the gay guy from the Union LBGT Forum. He’d read my suggested introduction to the transgender & transsexual guide and for the first time he said he’d understood the difference between transsexual & transgender and the need to abolish the mental health classification and replace it with a new term. Anyone for Harry Benjamin Syndrome? LOL Anyway the meeting is tomorrow lets see if I can win over some more hearts & minds?

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

PCT's lack of knowledge and 20th century attitudes...

Today I went to see my GP to ask her to make an application for funding for a referral to Dr Phil Thomas for sex affirmation surgery.

Now those that know my story will remember we made the last application in November 2006 and that over a year later my Primary Care Trust wrote to my MP saying the policy was to assessed by a local unit they hadn’t even set up, then fill in forms for consideration by their bureaucrats and then if they said OK wait two years for access to Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic and then spend two more years following their diagnostic steeplechase and then Charing Cross GIC would decide which surgeon I got, if I got surgery at all.

This is of course in my best clinical interest [sic] as the poor psychiatrists at Charing Cross find it so hard to diagnose you as transsexual and they don’t want you going back and saying I wish you hadn’t recommended I have my penis turned inside out.

The PCT also think it’s not a blanket ban so they are safe legally – WRONG!

Step back & think.

The NHS works GP to Consultant to Surgeon on all medical matters. The consultant (who might also be the surgeon) makes the diagnosis and the patient decides yes or no regarding surgery. After surgery the patient is discharged back to GP care. It is that simple and anything different is discrimination or denial of human rights.

Now I have been diagnosed as having Gender Dysphoria defined in WHO ICD – 10 Code F64.0 nice eh!

This diagnosis is by Dr Richard Cutis a HM Government approved Gender Consultant and now an NHS contractor. Other PCT send patients to him rather than the local GIC where waiting times are typically 2 years.

This is patient centric care in partnership with the private sector exactly what Government Health Policy requires.

So given I am diagnosed plus I have an open referral letter from December 2006 and a recent letter saying in due course she may wish to have referral to Dr Phil Thomas an NHS surgeon specialising in gender affirmation surgery it is give us the cash yes or no?

If they say yes it’s great off I go to Brighton for my surgery.

If they say No it’s a legal issue as there are two existing court rulings they would fall foul of.

Obviously the Blanket Ban is illegal ruling. The argument being this is a blanket ban on people already diagnosed as it is was not the intent of the original legal ruling to ask them to do the whole process twice.

Secondly the European Court of Human Rights ruling did not intend the situation where the National Health Service would not accept the legal change to female and use it as a disqualification for surgery.

Separately it could be argued that this is simple discrimination on the grounds that as a diagnosed transsexual person I am being denied the correct medical care that is surgery. This being inconsistent with the existing medication that I have that has permanently changed my ability to function in my former sex.

The argument is clinical not administrative and it is the clinical justification that they would have to argue was invalid and they can’t win that one.

So my GP is writing a letter to the PCT and I will get a copy. I have no issue with her but I did point out that she gave me a legal ace by writing to the Gender Recognition Panel that surgery was currently not funded by the local PCT!

I said I thought the problem at the PCT was lack of knowledge and 20th century attitudes rather than bigotry.

Also it appears after I told her the visit to the consultant psychiatrist was less than satisfactory that they used to have a trained counsellor in the practice but they were taken away as part of PCT cutbacks!

The modern NHS appears to be all about money and management and very little to do with patient care. I do hope someone compares the cost of now funding my surgery to the cost of a legal battle. The cheaper option for the PCT is to stop acting like spoilt children and just pay up.

I’m looking forward to the PCT response either way…

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Solidarity is strength…

Those of you that read my blogs regularly will know I have huge issues with the term transgender. I try to insist on transgender & transsexual both being used to emphasise the difference between those who want their brain and anatomical sex made congruent and reject the concept of a third gender and those who cross dress on an occasional basis to satisfy their transvestic fetishism.

I accept some people are confused as regards their sexual orientation due to their cross dressing but it doesn’t justify grouping them with transsexual people who know that their brain sex is different to their anatomy and that seek medical intervention to permanently transition to their correct sex & gender.

I support the adoption of Harry Benjamin Syndrome to make a clear differentiation between the groups.

Today an article was printed in The Guardian that illustrates the misuse of language and definitions.

Here’s an extract:

Transgender people identify their gender as different to their physical sex at birth. Transgenderism, or gender dysphoria, a recognised medical condition, involves discomfort with one's physical body and a wish to undergo gender reassignment or transition - in other words, to live as a member of the gender with which one identifies. This may involve a name change, hormone therapy and surgery.

That would be OK if it transsexual not transgender.

From the same article this amused me:

How employers can help

Do

· Ensure your policies and practices meet current legislation
· Change the person's name on the intranet, phone directory and all records - historical and current
· Discuss what time off will be required for treatment and/or possible side effects from any medication
· Ask whether the employee wishes to inform line managers, colleagues and customers themselves, or would prefer this to be done for them
· Discuss whether training or briefing will be necessary and when and by whom this will be carried out

Don't
· Ask the person to use the disabled toilet while they're transitioning - they should use the toilet of the gender they are transitioning to
· Tell new employees that someone "used to be a man/woman" - respect confidentiality


Let’s see of those 7 my employer scores 1 and that was only because there was no disabled toilet!

Now that neatly leads me onto a major dilemma I’ve had to resolve. I want to ensure that no one in my Union suffers the abuse & discrimination I did from a prejudiced employer.

The snag is the route is via LBGT. I think this is a mistake, as sexual orientation has nothing at all to do with being a transsexual person as being Lesbian, Bisexual or Gay doesn't define the condition. The T stands for Transgender and no one seems to see the core issue that LBG people are not considered mentally ill but T people are.

I’ve had an invite to the next Union LBGT forum and as I submitted a suggested rewrite of their Transgender Factsheet I will attend as my concern that the treatment from my employer would have driven a less strong transsexual person to suicide and that it must never happen again overrides my reservations.

At the end of the day solidarity is strength and whilst LBGT is a weird grouping their support helps my case and my knowledge & experiences will contribute to LBGT being of greater assistance to transsexual members of my Union.

This is link for the Guardian Article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/jan/19/workandcareers

This sort of sums up the Union Dilemma:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=184NTV2CE_c


My union is Unite seems an appropriate name now…

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Intellectually sound but emotionally shattered...

I went to see a consultant psychiatrist yesterday. It was an interesting hour!

I told her what had happened to me since I saw her 2 years ago. I explained how my Primary Care Trust had ignored me and how I’d been discriminated against by my employer and how badly the town had reacted to my transition.

I explained that the town reaction problem has dwindled to a rump of bigots directly connected to my employment.

The Primary Care Trust problem can’t be solved without a legal challenge now my MP has given up the fight.

The ongoing problem is surviving the onslaught from my employer.

Now initially when I met her over two years I was pretty naive about the Department of Health and my Primary Care Trust treatment of transsexual people. I soon became aware of the institutionalised prejudice in both but I still believed there were individuals in the NHS that cared. That was a mistake!

I suppose I should have picked up on “I thought your hair was a wig” comment but I didn’t want to believe the worse of someone I thought sympathetic.

I really should have spotted the “why do you want a gender recognition certificate?” question – my answer because it helps define who I am.

Amazingly I didn’t react to the glance down and the “how are you going to get a female birth certificate?” – my answer because the law says I can have one.

Those last two questions actually define the problem for any transsexual woman seeking National Health Service care. We doctors (that consider ourselves God) defined your sex at birth as male we will never change that.

This is why I get so angry with Press For Change and their transgender agenda. They have accepted their MBEs’ from a grateful Government that has not had to modify its discrimination against transsexual people in the NHS. After all if you are transgender the core issue is removed you stay the sex they decided for you.

It’s why I support the Harry Benjamin Syndrome position as everyone know the mental illness classification is a nonsense the trouble is no one in the medical profession will really accept you can be born with a female brain in a male body. This is particularly true of all psychiatrists whose arbitrary classification of various mental illnesses doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny and has no statistical validity.

I went there knowing I needed some extra support to survive but not being an expert I didn’t know what I needed other than I didn’t want any mind altering drugs.

Now she was unnaturally keen to support my view that I have to move to Manchester or London to have anything like a normal life and would supply a letter if needed in support of my consideration for re-housing.

Thinking about it I can see the motivation and the reasons. Firstly the Primary Care Trust decreases the chance of any legal action for refusal of funding for my surgery as it moves the problem to my new Trust. Secondly her barely disguised view is that all people like me belong in a ghetto of “Queers” that a big city can absorb not living in a nice English market town like Uttoxeter and annoying the local populace by being different.

Her view was that intellectually I could understand that I can’t win over bigoted individuals but I have to learn how to stop those people hurting me emotionally.

My suicidal feelings earlier this year are a normal reaction to stress that has been “off the scale”.

She understood the social exclusion of my suspension from work and the effect of unrelenting harassment from my employer.

She knows that despite my best efforts I’m in the wages “poverty trap” as a single person on £12,000 a year and that I will have to cope with statutory sick pay if I can’t get alternative work. That adds more stress. She looked alarmed when I said I wanted a diagnosis of work related stress to claim more.

She felt I was doing it right trying to create a house move and a new life in a big city but I had to learn to cope with the emotional consequences of all the stress.

Of course she wasn’t prepared to offer that as professional counselling from a NHS trained specialist.

She’s recommended I have one on one counselling sessions at Uttoxeter Mind. That’s a charity with volunteer counsellors with minimal qualifications.

This is something I have to arrange as she felt referral to a psychiatric nurse or drugs as inappropriate as she doesn’t consider me mentally ill.

So I think that’s the psychiatrist equivalent of “pull yourself together girl & get on with it”. I’m intellectually sound just emotionally shattered – easy eh!

I left feeling totally drained and with a splitting headache.

The one thing about South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is their consistency. Since my transition every request for help has been turned down. They should reissue my NHS card stamped transsexual woman to be denied health care of any type.

I’m now thinking how do I get these people. When we secured some of our rights in the European Courts we had them diluted by Government under the transgender agenda. We need to go back and get the treatment practices of transsexual people by the Health Service declared illegal under the Human Rights Act.

This was the battle I wanted to fight & win for all transsexual people not the battle I’ve been forced into with my employer.

Actually there are similar in many ways as both organisations feel themselves above the law and have the attitude you brought this on yourself and deserve what you get.

That is the perverted prejudice of the true bigot, as they become the victims of the transsexual woman who decides they can’t live the lie of being male anymore. As it is now politically unacceptable to be racist or homophobic you need a new target as an outlet. Transsexual women provide that service to the community.

So as usual I fight my battle alone, well that’s not quite true: I have Chris, “LR”, “L” and a gender specialist in Dr Richard Curtis that actually understand me. I won’t give the bigots victory I will God willing survive and win.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

New hair - new me!

Well I went to Manchester and Joana’s salon on Friday for a complete annual rebuild. It was ready for doing!

Joana & I had a hug and a chat in the staff room before we started the process. We had a fall out before Christmas that was my fault as I was letting things get on top of me. Joana is a wonderful person and I can’t really understand now how it happened other than my mental health was at an all time low and I was falling out with my shadow.

OK I’m not completely recovered but I can’t hand my persecutors a victory. Their prejudice & discrimination against me is an expression of their intolerance of any form of difference. I will fight the battle for all people who suffer discrimination in any form.

Anyway to my hair; I was pleased more of my own hair has re-grown and looks and is fuller. My scalp is in good condition too. There’ll never be enough to abandon the Volumiser method Joana uses to give me a luxuriant head of hair but more and more of it is really me. So after removal of the old Joana & Margaret got stuck in.

The process is not without pain! Basically a micro fibre net is pressed hard to your skull and your own hair is pulled through using a tiny “harpoon”. It’s OK at the start but by the end you are praying no more. And adding the last piece of extra hair is a moment of sheer relief!

We used the same base but also added some light brown & ash blonde so it looks both lighter and highlighted. I had red highlights before which made the old style look darker so it looks very different now. More so live, as the pictures under artificial light don’t do it full justice. I’m well pleased though it looks and feels great now the sensitivity has eased off. We started at 10am and finished at 6pm but that’s it now for 2008 unless I chose a change its just maintenance.

The cut/style I’ve had is pretty much as before but perhaps lighter fringe but as usual some nice layering. Joana is an artist with the scissors and that’s the bit she loves and why not as it’s the final transformation. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since it’s done.

I am so typically female as regards hair as if I think my hair looks good I feel good. Hair is a woman’s crowning glory and I think it’s vital to use it to demonstrate your independence and freedom from ownership by men. I see far too many women who have their hair short and ceased to look attractive. This suits their men who are too lazy to look good themselves. It’s the slob & slob look that too many fat people adopt. Still enough of politics I’m looking & feeling good!

Elsewhere in my life “L” and I have stopped beating each other up and that’s so much better for both of us. I’ve gained so much from “L” that we’ll always be friends but we certainly won’t be understood by the majority but who cares – I don’t.

It’s my birthday Monday and a few months back I thought I’d never say this but I’m ready for another year…

Joana is at http://www.joanashairelite.co.uk/

Thursday, 10 January 2008

If you drink in the last chance saloon…

Make sure it’s the drink of life.

It’s been an interesting few days in terms of some amazing conversations that I won’t repeat here.

I’ll just summarise by saying it’s helped me a lot.

I’m off to Manchester tomorrow to have my new hairtrstyle for 2008. I don’t know yet if I’ll play safe and just have blonde highlights or go a lot further! I’ll post a new pic after it’s done.

I’ll also drop off my Manchester Housing Application to their office. I had intended to give them a letter after my visit to the consultant psychiatrist next week and still will do if they want it but I found my last Gender Specialist’s report confirms most of what I need.

I’ll email the response letter to my employer later. I’m tempted to print it here but I’d better not in case it prejudices my case.

Chased up my Gender Recognition Certificate’s progress. My file will either sneak in as last one at end or January or the Panel will review in early March. It can’t arrive too soon for me!

So that’s it I’ve taken a big swig of my drink in the last chance saloon and I believe its the right drink…

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Emotionally bankrupt…

In 2004 I had to declare myself financially bankrupt. I’d tried to resist my transition and it had caused me to cease to function in the business world with inevitable consequences.

Today I declare myself emotionally bankrupt after a night I wish had never happened. I suppose the signs have been there for a long time.

My transition has provoked so much hatred that trying to resist its effect has completely drained me of many emotions.

I’m living now on the basis that I’ve survived another day nothing more. I have completely lost faith in the future.

I know I should fight on to get justice and from somewhere I need to find the strength to do so.

Financial bankruptcy allowed the real me to emerge but I don’t know what will emerge from this.

I’ve fully realised what the world thinks of me and it’s not easy to take…

Monday, 7 January 2008

Love doesn’t necessarily include relationship…

Had a row on MSN with “L”, nothing unusual there I hear you say. LOL

Well anyway we switched to the telephone to sort it out. MSN is text no emotion at all so easily misunderstood, telephone is better as vocal inflexions can be clear, especially if you have strong telephone business experience like I have. You pick up on the pauses, changes in tone & emphasis better than most.

Nothing of course matches eye contact when again if you are skilled observer the other party cannot hide their true feelings. But that option is out.

So “L” & I sorted it out if accepting something forced on you by economic circumstance and other people’s views can be called sorted.

I suppose I should just say I’m happy we’re speaking and genuinely I am but I’ll be hurting for a long time to come over this situation. My friends say “L & I” have doomed to failure written on us and this probably proves them right.

So what does the future hold – who knows? I can’t give the commitment to fight on with my life beyond the conclusion of the dispute with my employer to anyone regardless of whether I win or lose that one.

Now I’m in the new and uncharted territory of reciprocal love but no relationship – my life is never simple…

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Fatally Flawed FemaleTM is dead...

I don’t quite know what it was that made me stop bouncing along the edge of despair but I have. OK I’m not recovered and I still got to fight the prejudiced bigots from work to get justice but I will do it.

I will need professional help but my consultant psychiatrist appointment is just a week away and she can point me in the right direction to resist the effects of what’s to come. They very nearly got me but they failed.

“L” sent me an email and then rang. We hadn’t been in touch since 31st December but my angry sarcasm only lasted a couple of minutes before my love cut in. We talked until 3am and it was wonderful.

I can’t offer “L” a conventional relationship but I can offer and do unconditional love and expect nothing but friendship back. I’m not looking to change their life just share a part of it.

I think that sums up my pragmatic approach to 2008 without compromising my true self. It’s taken me a lot of soul searching to discover the real me after all those years of building a false persona. I was thinking I want the old Maggie Fox back but what I really had to do was embrace the real person that’s has now emerged in her entirety.

I’ve done that and I can say “Thank you God for making me – me”. The smile is back if not the grin lol.

Now I must hold that but my Fatally Flawed FemaleTM phase is over and I’m glad it has. I owe special thanks to “S”, “B” & “LR” as well as “L” for their contribution.

So onwards & upwards…

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Press for Change 1 Harry Benjamin Syndrome 0

Today was FA Cup day in England though my team doesn’t play until tomorrow due to the joys of television coverage.

I got an email from Press Foe Change with the response from HM Government to their petition.

The petition was:

"This government promised minority groups, including the trans community, to end the two-tier system which denies justice and fairness to those attempting to access goods, services and facilities. Of great and particular urgency is the need to ensure equality of access to, or use of, health care services, goods and facilities, including surgical treatments, to trans people, and to end the 'postcode lottery' for the funding of such treatments. The shorter waiting times that other people now experience should be similarly available to trans people when accessing health care relating to gender dysphoria”

The response from HM Government was:

“Responsibility for health care relating to gender dysphoria rests with individual primary care trusts and eligibility for treatment is based on each patient's clinical need as determined by the relevant clinician. As with other services, the length of waiting times may be influenced by both capacity issues and by local prioritisation and resource allocation.

Approximately 100 people will undergo gender reassignment surgery within the NHS in any one-year. The Government also know that the desired end result of very many individuals is not surgical intervention but help to adjust to their gender identity.

The Royal College of Psychiatry is developing Good Practice Guidelines for the assessment and treatment of gender dysphoria and the Department of Health is currently developing specific transgender guidance on service and workforce-related issues for the NHS.”


Now there you have it!

Let me translate that into plain English.

You (Press For Change) have convinced us (HM Government) that transgender is a valid grouping and that most of these individuals are simply gender confused so we agree the mental illness classification should be maintained. After all you make a good living out of this myth, as do our psychiatrists, counsellors and others in the transgender industry.

As the number of people with Harry Benjamin Syndrome is so tiny and worthless in terms of votes we don’t care about their fate and will allow Primary Care Trusts within the National Health Service free reign to exploit & humiliate them any way they like.

I think until another person with Harry Benjamin Syndrome takes HM Government to the European Court of Human Rights then transgender people will prevail.

In football terms, the result is invalid; as team Press for Change has fielded ineligible players and the referee (HM Government) has awarded a penalty without justification under the rules.

Unfortunately all this stands until next year but then we get the chance to play again…

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Good start to 08…

I’m trying to stay positive which is quite a task after the events of 07. Still I’ve been in touch with both my Solicitor & my Union and I’m pleased with their response.

I’ve done a great response to the denial of my grievances by my employer. It wasn’t hard to do, as they are too stupid to see the contradictions in their denials.

I was discussing the issue of modern day management with a friend and we concluded its now about maintaining the management structure not actually managing. Everything has been dumbed down to meet the standards of people who don’t understand the most basic aspects of management. The word is now meaningless in the corporate structures of today. Being a good manager is about maintaining the company view even when it’s wrong and going to cost the company more by denial of the truth.

I’ve got my hair rebuild booked and just now have to make a few grovelling phone calls to pay my gas & council tax later than I should without their corporate structures becoming a pain by haranguing me from some foreign call centre. LOL

I’ve got the consultant psychiatrist the day after my birthday so by mid January I should have a clear take on where everything is going.

I think “L” has made a New Year resolution not to contact me after me foolishly revealing that my love had not diminished. I can cope as long as I don’t hear their voice. I suppose this is where geographic distance works to my advantage for once. It’s a shame but 08 is about moving on in a positive manner not being constrained by other people’s problems.

Tomorrow is get my Manchester housing application in. I’d prefer Central London but I think Manchester is achievable and moving home is my New Year resolution. Maybe the home swapper web site will help.

My friend “S” is going back to escorting, as she can’t get any sensible offers of employment. It’s a tragedy that so many have to resort to selling their bodies in today’s society to have any sort of life. It is a sad reflection on our society that the discredited adjective of transsexual is just seen as part of the global sex industry that makes it so much harder for HBS women to be taken seriously by the medical world. Still I hope she copes well.

Finally I need to say a special thank you to “LR” who has been incredibly supportive with the issues raised by my persecution by my employers. Thank you girl you are always there when I really need help.

So tomorrow is another day…