Tavistock & Adults GIC

I’ve had lots of new followers recently so I wanted to take this chance to say hello and introduce myself before I get into the post. I’m Liam and I created this blog 3 years ago to talk about mental illness and being transgender. Over the years I’ve focused more on ‘life’ things like books, thoughts and adventures. However, occasionally I reflect back on my experiences with mental illness or track my transition, and today is one of those days! I’ve added the definitions to some of the common terms I use at the bottom of this post for anyone unsure (they’re in bold).


I’m transgender (FTM) and amongst many other topics and adventures, I’ve been posting about my journey transitioning under the NHS since 2016. Some general background information is I started to socially transition in May 2015, and got my hair cut in February 2016. In December 2016 my journey of referrals started, my last post about this being in May 2017. Since then I heard back from Tavistock in August and had 4 appointments from September until December (when I turned 18).

In summary, we managed to cover a lot of subjects in the short space of time I had. Some things we discussed were:

  • General health forms and questionnaires
  • My identity and how I relate to it
  • How and when I realised I was trans
  • My childhood in relation to sexuality and gender
  • My hopes for the future
  • Medical interventions I want to have and the pros and cons
  • My family’s and friend’s attitudes to me being trans
  • How I experience dysphoria
  • Mental health/mental illness background
  • Significant life events

A summary letter was written which I received in February, when supposedly a referral was made to the adults GIC. Within 2 months there was no response or evidence that I had actually been referred so I went to the GP in April with a self referral form. Luckily before it was completed I received the confirmation letter from the adults GIC. There’s a 14 month waiting list which I’m dreading the wait for but I’m on my way and the time should fly quickly.

This is some insight to the process many trans people go through. Medical intervention isn’t easily accessible. The waiting lists, age restrictions and referrals take a long time. I am incredibly lucky to have the NHS support this, as many people all over the world have to pay large amounts of money or travel countries to get the support and treatments they need.

Until next time,

Liam 🙂


Definitions

FTM – Female to male. This refers to people who were assigned female at birth but identify as/are male. Every trans person uses different labels, this is just one I use. Alternatively MTF is male to female.

Socially transition – This can be anything such as coming out, asking people to call you by certain pronouns/name, changing gender expression, talking within different social groups about this eg. Friends, colleagues, family etc.

Tavistock – An NHS gender identity clinic (GIC) in London for children under 18.

Medical intervention – This can range from hormone blockers and HRT to various surgeries. A common misconception is that there is one surgery, often referred to as ‘the surgery’ however there are actually many.

Dysphoria – “Used to describe when a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. This is also the clinical diagnosis for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.” (Reference)

GIC – Gender identity clinic

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Books, Glorious, Books

I started reading books again in January 2017 and even wrote a blog post about it. Since then I’ve enjoyed exploring this hobby in my own time and have found several different ways to do this. I thought sharing it might be a nice way to focus on an important part of me that isn’t my mental health or about being transgender, as well as a way to connect with fellow book lovers.

The first page in my scrapbook was a nice motivator to keep reading throughout the year. I cut out pictures of all the spines to create my ‘2017 library’. As well as this I’ve kept track of my reading habits, thoughts and reviews in small notebooks. The only part of these that I share is the star rating I give each book, which I do online using Goodreads.

Goodreads can be downloaded as an app and is used to track the books you’ve read or want to read, search for new books, and hear others ratings and reviews. Everyone starts with 3 ‘shelves’ – books you’ve read, want to read and are currently reading. Last year I set myself a goal to read 10 books and I managed to read 17! This year my goal is to read 20 books, and I’m on 10 so far. For anyone who’s curious, my favourite book in 2017 was ‘The Names They Gave Us’ by Emery Lord, and my favourite of 2018 so far is probably ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie.

Liam 🙂

Long Term Illness and Identity

In my experience, people who are physically or mentally ill for a long period of time can start to view this as part of their identity. I’m definitely included in this majority that I’ve seen, and it’s taken a lot of work for me to recognise and keep working on this.

Having your illness as a part of your identity can be as extreme as viewing yourself as a shell of a person consumed by your diagnosis, to something so subtle that you live a high functioning life and it is but a passing thought in your head.

The turning point for me was acknowledging my mental illness had become a part of my identity, and deciding I didn’t want that anymore. My therapist gave me support as I tried lots of different things to try to find me again. It’s one thing being far along in recovery and managing symptoms, but it’s another to continue to tackle the root problems that may have caused them in the first place. For me, reading books has been a hobby I’ve enjoyed getting back into, as well as starting scrapbooking in the summer 2017. Another big step I’ve taken is reconnecting with Christianity which has also helped me meet a lot of amazing people.

To anyone else struggling with their identity during/after a long period of illness, that isn’t you. There is so much more to you than your medical history. The places you love, the hobbies you have, the friends you choose, the things you believe, even the person you want to be! Discovering this can be hard when things are still in a bad place, but it opens the door a little wider to a life that isn’t consumed by illness.

Liam 🙂

Small Victories

Happy New Year!

There have been some small victories for me as a transgender person this Christmas and new year. When it comes to friends who don’t accept you, it’s a simple decision to leave them. Family is different. My family mean a lot to me, and I want to take them with me on my journey, not leave them behind. I have chosen to spend a lot of time and energy working on this instead of the simpler shutting them out. I’ll admit the repeated conversations are draining and have extremely slow progress, and more often than not it feels like 1 step forward, 2 steps back. However, the small victories make up for all the pain and tears. This Christmas, my dad has given me a card saying ‘to my son’ for the first time, and my grandparents have had a conversation with me about being trans. It’s a couple years down the line for my immediate family, but I’ve only just begun the coming out progress properly with my grandparents. If I could tell my younger self something, whilst I was hurting so much because I initially felt rejected, it’d be give your family time to adjust.

This Christmas, the little things have made it an amazing holiday. Every time my family:

  • Uses my nickname
  • Uses neutral gendered pronouns like ‘grandchild’
  • Writes Liam in my Christmas card
  • Corrects themself on my name and pronouns
  • Says Liam outloud
  • Calls me handsome instead of pretty

I feel so incredibly happy and valid inside.

Here’s to a brilliant year ahead, filled with positivity and lots of opportunities.

Liam 🙂

Christmas Eve 2017

It’s Christmas Eve 2017 and I’m repeating what I did on here last year. This one is a bit more special, it has my highlights from December. The snowfall in England was the heaviest in years and I enjoyed it so much, even though it had such a huge affect on the local area (ice and hills don’t go well together). It was also Khaleesi’s first snow day which was the cutest thing to watch. I went into London to see Les Misérables with my family for my 18th celebration, as well as Winter Wonderland on a separate occasion. The 2nd December was exciting because I saw The Kooks in concert with my sister and some other people. Also I can’t resist a good sunset.

Merry Christmas!

Liam 🙂

Gratitude

I think gratitude is a brilliant thing, but not necessarily in the way it’s used today. Practicing gratitude doesn’t solve any problems, cure any illnesses, fix horrible situations or make you happy. It’s not a solution, it’s a frame of mind that can make you feel better about yourself and others, and be able to appreciate the good things in the world and in yourself.

I recently read a blog post that I’ve got to recommend you read. It talks about the negative aspects of gratitude lists in a far more personal and honest way. Here’s a snapshot below:

“I’ve been making gratitude lists,” I said. “I’m really trying to look on the bright side.”

“Screw that,” he said. “Stop doing that immediately. It’s last thing you need. You need to make an Ingratitude List. You should be PISSED. Your life’s honestly kind of sh*tty right now. I’m not saying there’s no bright spots, but you need to stop trying to pretend you’re not in pain. You need to make a “This Sucks Ass” list.

I burst out laughing for the first time in ages. I walked out of his office with a huge smile on my face, swimming in a sea of relief…

Gratitude lists have the power to be brilliant and vastly improve your quality of life, as well as the ability to smother your life and mind in shame for still feeling bad and in pain despite all the ‘good things’. I think each person will need to work that out for themself, and I’ve been able to start doing that thanks to The Mighty.

Each month, The Mighty have been focusing on different aspects of self care, and this November it’s been gratitude. Each day there is a prompt, which suggests not only things such as what are you grateful for today, but also what you have learnt from the good and bad situations, people, etc.

Some of my favourite prompts I think are well worth pondering over are…

  • What are three things you have planned for the holidays that you are grateful for
  • Name three family members who have taught you something valuable.
  • Choose three “negative” experiences that have taught you something about yourself.
  • Pick three childhood experiences you are grateful for
  • Name three teachers you’ve had who have taught you something valuable

Thank you for reading,

Liam 🙂

Forgiveness

I’ve recently been having my own ponderings and questions about forgiveness, and what that really means, and how on Earth you do it when it’s something so ongoing. So I’ve decided to put all my findings in a post in the hopes of summarising all I know so far.


The definition of forgiveness is “to stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake”. To me, forgiveness is accepting what has happened, even if what has happened is wrong. It’s being okay with something even though what happened wasn’t okay. My very amazing friend Cody who has contributed to a blog post on here before shared their insight on what forgiveness means to them, as well as how religion has influenced this…

For me forgiveness is about trying to put things in the past so I’m able to move on. I tend to ruminate a lot on everything that happens to me and so when someone upsets or angers me I really feel the impact. Usually it takes me some time, but when I forgive someone, even if I don’t get the chance to tell them I have forgiven them to their face, it helps me to move on, and forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget. There is also a power to forgiveness. Even if someone has wronged you and made you feel small, you do still have one power in you – forgiveness is powerful. I might feel like someone has taken everything from me, but the power of forgiveness is something nobody can take from me. When I forgive, I feel like I am making my own decisions again. 

Buddhism has really helped me to understand forgiveness. It’s not about whether someone apologises or whether they are truly sorry, it’s about the kind of energy you put into the world and whether holding onto anger and hurt is going to help. There are some things that are really difficult to forgive, but if you are able to forgive, it is such a relief. Forgiveness relates to treading the Earth lightly. It’s like when you meditate and you let thoughts pass through your fingers like smoke – forgiving is about letting go and recalibrating yourself so that you can move on from bad feelings and live in the present moment again.


Forgiveness is hard. Not only because it is a state of mind but because you have to keep choosing it. You have to forgive them every time you remember what has happened, on your best and worst days. DBT teaches ‘radical acceptance’ which essentially means completely and totally accepting and stopping fighting reality, because life can be worth living even with painful events in it. Rejecting reality does not change reality.

I think this lines up quite nicely with the Christian view of forgiveness, although Christianity takes it a step further to having compassion for the person who has done wrong. I’ve been looking towards Christianity for some support in accepting and forgiving the persecutor of past trauma who is still in my life. As well as forgiving myself for what I’ve done wrong.

From what I have gathered, forgiveness isn’t one decision, it’s something you choose every day. It’s fair enough forgiving someone for hurting you once you have had a brilliant day and you have survived despite mental illness and feeling proud of how you have managed. Or when you have helped someone else which you couldn’t have done without your experiences. However on the days where you feel like it’s your fault, you’ve had a meltdown or are consumed by flashbacks, and still choosing to forgive. That is hard.

My hero Corrie Ten Boom talks about it in this short video. It’s just 2 minutes long but managed to fill me with hope.

https://youtu.be/QLRrNPCTdx0 

Thank you for reading,

Liam 🙂