Christians and atheists alike are all looking forward to Christmas. We are lucky to live in a multicultural and diverse-religion society and although not all religions celebrate Christmas, the air of festivity is felt throughout the land. As a nation we have become much more tolerant of those that are different from us and although xenophobia and bigotry still do exist, many of us have been able to shake off these prejudices and adopt a more laissez-faire attitude to others
Acceptance of female bishops in the catholic church and, most dramatically, the acceptance of homosexual marriages and the gay adoption of children in the church of England, are testament to how far we have come. Since the 17th July 2013 when the Government bill of same sex marriage first came into law, there have been over 15 000 same sex marriages (roughly split 50:50 between men and women) with over 1400 occurring in the first 3 months.
We should give ourselves a congratulatory tap on the back for our open mindedness and how far we have come. Or should we?
Spare a thought for the transgender community, a misunderstood and certainly neglected minority of society. I use the word ‘minority’ with my tongue lodged firmly in my cheek as the incidence of transgender folk in society is likely to be more than 1 in 10.
Transgender is the firm belief that individuals have been born and are existing in the wrong sex, body. Although sex and love are important to all human beings, there is rarely a strong sexual motivation for these thoughts although to be loved and accepted, is.
Typically, it is mostly male to female transgenders that seek medical help but there is nothing to suggest that female to male isn’t just as prevalent.
Transgender has been around for a long time and Lili Elbe was probably the first (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lili_Elbe) and most famous in Europe, she sadly died in the 1930s following complications of reasignment surgery.
Many transgender folk have lived apparently ‘normal’ lives, having high powered jobs, being married with children, all the time suppressing the conviction that they are living in the wrong body and it is only when the children have fled the nest that they feel able to address these convictions. More often than not they gain the support of their family as in the case of Bruce Jenner (http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/bruce-jenners-sex-change-confession-5592463), but sadly many are ostracized from their family and from society. Not surprising then that the incidence of mental illness and suicide is higher in transgenders than in any other ‘minority’ group. It is also interesting that many of them are desperate to have a formal ‘diagnosis’ of being a transgender patient when herosexuality isn’t regarded as a ‘diagnosis’ so why should transgender?!
The medical profession has been very slow to react to this dilemma despite being included in the NHS patient charter in 2011 (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/85498/transgender-action-plan.pdf) and was even discussed as being a major health issue by the Lib Dems at their annual conference as recently as Sept 2015. (http://www.libdemvoice.org/conference-countdown-2015-transgender-and-intersex-health-charter-47367.html).
GPs have no training in management and are often frightened of managing these patients and although gender identity clinics do exist, they are often erratic and fraught with cancellations and long waiting lists. This is particularly harrowing for those transgender youngsters who are about to go through puberty as by far the most likely success for hormone management is in the pre pubertal phase and by the time they get their GIC appointments it is too late. They have to endure a protracted wait whilst watching their bodies with horror, as they turn into the exact antithesis of who they believe they are.
No wonder many are now turning to on-line services where they are managed by skilled doctors and psychologists and where management and advice is immediate.
So in the forthcoming Season of good cheer, certainly revel and congratulate ourselves in how far we have come in our tolerance of groups of people we don’t necessarily understand, but also be mindful we have still got a long way to go.
Read more about private Transgender services available to you