Becoming Charlotte: a year in transition
Becoming Charlotte: a year in transition
You may remember Charlotte from around this time last year – when she kindly wrote a blog to support LGBT+ History Month last year documenting their story pre-transition. Kindly she has offered to write this follow up piece, ‘One Year on’ to provide some insight as to their experiences post transition and the obstacles along the way.
There’s a line from Kim Wilde’s “You Came” that seems appropriate:
“In the space of a year, I watched the old me disappear.”
This past year, there have been difficulties and triumphs. My difficult experiences are nothing compared to what some Transgender people experience. I am a lucky girl, supported by those around me. However, that doesn’t make this easy.
Dysphoria still hits me like a train sometimes, but it has been liberating and wonderful living as my true self, especially since I transitioned full time and started my medical transition.
Full Time Social Transition
February 24th 2022: my Deed Polls were signed and I legally became Charlotte.
I’d planned to update my records/ID as quickly as possible. You don’t realise just how many government agencies, private companies, and even retail loyalty schemes you’re registered with until you have to change your name. Soon new documents arrived in my real name, which was so exciting. Most record holders accepted my Deed Poll, but some insisted on seeing photo ID.
It took a while to update my HR records at work, which delayed my full-time social transition until April 2022. This was my first big difficulty. I think that everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community knows what it is like, hiding your real self.
At work, having to respond to the wrong name/title/pronouns, and ‘turn-off’ correcting people became increasingly frustrating. After two months it was almost unbearable. My life outside of work was taking shape, and I felt I was being torn in two. When my last day as the old me finished, a massive weight was lifted. I felt so liberated when I strutted into work that first day in a skirt and heels. Now, everyone knows me as Charlotte.
It’s taken some of my family longer to adjust to the real me. Occasionally mistakes are made, but these are becoming less frequent.
My friends have been amazing, I have reconnected with friends I hadn’t spoken to in years. All of them rallying support when I came out.
Early on, I contacted Beyond Reflections seeking counselling/support. This would provide a safe space to talk to others with similar experiences.
Through group sessions, it was a relief to speak to someone who has literally been through everything I am/will-be going through. It was like I found the big sister I always needed. Online research is not the same as talking to someone about their experiences.
Eventually I started counselling, completing my support network in preparation for my medical treatment.
The beginning of the medical transition
Nothing has changed with my NHS referral. They haven’t updated their waiting list since August 2022 (checked 31/January/2023).
By luck, privilege and a lot of hard work, I can go private for my medical treatment. I completed my psych assessment with HSGC in mid-September, I was referred to the London Transgender Clinic (LTC) for HRT, and my GP did my blood tests.
LTC have been flooded with referrals, it’s no surprise that more of us are going private given NHS waiting times.
The day of the in-clinic assessment was incredibly exciting. Since there were no issues, LTC gave me my first prescription (private) on the spot… …I almost burst out crying. I experienced a wave of joy; everything had brought me to that first prescription for Oestrogen. After many years, I finally had the medication to change my body. The poisoning would end, my second puberty, the correct puberty, would begin.
A question about Fertility
I’ve never wanted children, but I knew I should organise fertility preservation before I started HRT, in-case I would change my mind one day. HRT typically leads to infertility, and it’s not always possible to get it back.
NHS Support for Trans fertility can be something of a lottery depending on the CCG. I went straight to a private clinic (Complete Fertility) in August 2022. The clinic was very supportive, after some pre-screening tests, I had my assessment. It was all going smoothly, until I got the results.
The results were bad! I’ve never wanted children, but hearing that the choice might not be mine to make left me in tears.
After consulting my GP, I booked a second attempt in two months, which is how long turnover takes.
This was another difficult stage. After years of tucking to hide something that should have never been there, I had to stop tucking to aid fertility. This was difficult for me, and it limited my choice of clothes. But it was only temporary, and for a greater goal.
There was a risk that the results might be the same. I might be infertile, maybe there was a deeper reason I never wanted children.
Eventually I went back for attempt #2 – the sacrifice was worth it, and viable material was frozen. I was relieved, this completed fertility treatment 1 month before starting HRT. I could wear what I want again; clothes are a big part of my self-expression.
The True Cost
It’s expensive being trans:
- Private Medical Treatment
- Laser Hair Removal
- Cosmetic Treatments
- Fertility preservation
- Changing ID
- Changing Certificates
- Support Groups
This isn’t cheap, that money can’t go towards buying a house. But I’m investing in myself, in the one thing no-one can take away or repossess.
I have to consider what will bring me more joy, living in the right body or a house. I can only afford so much; ultimately my transition takes priority over other life goals.
Overall, one year on
As a Transgender person, It’s very difficult not to be upset by the mainstream media. There is so much horrible mis-information that serves to only divide society and make people angry. It’s distressing and frankly frightening that there are those seeking to divide and take away our hard fought for rights, especially considering it was trans women of colour who started the Stonewall riots at the beginning of the gay rights movement in 1969. We are real people just trying to live our lives as our true authentic selves.
However that said, I am very grateful for the support of my friends, family, co-workers, my support group and counsellor. I am lucky to have a supportive GP who are working with the private GIC. Many others in the community do not have any of this.
Sometimes I have low moments brought on by gender dysphoria; I break down crying at having to fight a war to be my real self. Why wasn’t I born into the right body in the first place? But, I am happy to be moving forward, and looking forward to what this year will bring. Each day is a step closer to realising my true self.
Note: The London Transgender Clinic is branching its hormone team off into a new separate clinic called the Gender Hormone Clinic/GHC.
Beyond Reflections https://beyond-reflections.org.uk/services/
Laurels NHS GIC Waiting Times https://www.dpt.nhs.uk/our-services/gender-identity/waiting-times
NHS Gender Identity Clinic (London) – Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust https://gic.nhs.uk/info-support/gamete-storage-preservation-of-sperm-eggs-or-embryos/
NHS Gender Identity Clinic (London) Waiting times – Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust https://gic.nhs.uk/appointments/waiting-times/
NHS Guidance for Clinic Commissioning Groups for Fertility Services https://gic.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/NHS-England-Guidance-for-CCGs-on-Fertility-Preservation.pdf
Harley Street Gender Clinic https://www.harleystgenderclinic.com/
London Transgender Clinic https://www.thelondontransgenderclinic.uk/transgender-treatment-therapies-london/hormone-therapy/
Gender Hormone Clinic
Complete Fertility https://www.completefertility.co.uk/fertility-treatments-services/fertility-preservation
(Video) Gigi Gorgeous – Why I’m Off Hormones *story time* | Gigi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8FRgGjvDcY
(Video) Kim Wilde – You Came https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6Agwu_5J14
(Video) BBC News – Should the NHS pay for transgender fertility treatment? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/health-46634595
Help and Support
Dorset Mind offers group support that can also help with your wellbeing. The group offers peer support. They help to reduce stigma by normalising conversations about mental health. You can also check out further support for stress and mental health here. You’ll find links for 1-2-1 and group support we offer here.
If you’re in a crisis, treat it as an emergency. Call 999 immediately or The Samaritans, FREE on 116 123. NHS Dorset’s Helpline ‘Connection’ can be reached on 0800 652 0190. It’s also available 24/7.
Today’s Guest Blogger
Thank you again to Charlotte, for this open and honest account of one year since announcing their transition to the world and becoming their true self as Charlotte.