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  • 13 June 2023
  • 15 min read

Transgender Healthcare Q&A

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    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
    • Clare Fisher
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Nick Dowling
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“Listen to them and respect them. Know your guidelines, what a person is entitled to… if a trans person comes to you and says, can you help me look into this? Please help them. Because it is a real, real struggle.”

In this insightful and thought-provoking Q&A, Registered Nurse Claire and her husband, George, have an open discussion about public, family, and NHS attitudes to transgender individuals, and how nurses (and other healthcare professionals) can help transgender patients, and become better allies.

Claire: Hi everyone, and welcome back to another video from me. My name is Claire Carmichael, now Blake, because I've just got married. So, today's video is all about transgender patients, and how we can help our transgender patients.

It's going to be in a Q&A style vlog with George who's going to help out, and if you haven't seen the other vlog that I did about transgender patients and healthcare, please go check that out first.

George: Hey everyone. For those who don't know, my name is George. I am Claire's husband now.

Claire: Who was my fiancé in the last video.

George: Yes.

Claire: Now he's my husband.

George: I'm a very proud trans man, and we do videos like this because it's so important for education.

There's a lot of things that get portrayed in the media, the news, that is very negative, and it's a lot of misinformation. So, we hope you find this video informative.

Claire: And I have to warn you, we are looking after a puppy right now, so if you hear some weird noises in the background, or a puppy comes into play, just ignore it.

Like I said, we're going to be doing a Q&A type of vlog. Obviously, we've got George here, like we said, who is a proud trans man.

And as nurses, as Student Nurses, whatever healthcare background you are in, we can't do this without the patients. And we can't do this without the experience of patients because they are the experts in their health.

It is going to be a Q&A style vlog with George who has happily agreed to do this with me. So, thank you, and this is why we're here.

So, the first thing. I have written some questions down; I don't normally structure my vlogs or script them, but I do have questions because we wanted to structure it in a way that's going to be helpful for you to learn and hopefully give you advice to help your patients in future or colleagues around you.

When Did You Know You Were A Trans Man?

Claire: So, first question for George. When did you know you were a trans man?

George: Probably from a very young age. Looking back, I can probably pinpoint, but at the time I obviously didn't know. But I'd say about five years old. I never wanted to wear dresses. Growing up, playing with friends, playing mums and daddies. I always wanted to be the daddy. Didn't know why. I just know that's how I felt.

So yeah, a lot of trans people, don't get me wrong, it's not all trans people, but majority do have experiences from when they're younger and they can look back and go, oh, this was a sign that I was transgender.

Every trans person's journey is different, so don't try and put them all together in the same category and think that everyone, every trans person has the same experience.

Claire: Thank you.

George: That's important.

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When Did You Officially Come Out? Were People Supportive?

Claire: Good, thank you. So, question number two, when did you officially come out as transgender? What age were you?

George: I was the ripe old age of 30. I'm now 34. It's one of those things where it is hard to come to terms with who you are and taking those steps. It's one thing thinking it, but then to go and say to friends, family, go to the doctors and announce it, so to speak, is very hard to do.

Where you got to the age of 30 and it was kind of a, now or never moment. I was very unsettled before, never happy, and I'm gutted I've waited so long, but at the same time, I'm glad that I did. Everything happens for a reason. But like I said, back then as well, we didn't have the resources.

So, the first representation that I saw on TV, or anything was Max on the L word. But the way they portrayed him was in a very aggressive, controlling, and when you see that when you're younger, it kind of scares you and you think, I don't want to become that, but I'm not that.

Claire: You are not that.

George: No.

Claire: I wouldn't have married him otherwise. And so, when you came out, were people… did you find people supportive? What about family, friends, GP?

George: Yeah. I was surprised at how well people took it. I felt like I was already doing my own transition. I cut my hair years before, got tattoos, so I felt like I was already kind of presenting, but I can't fault my workplace as well, where I worked, they were so supportive.

My family were really supportive. I remember my sister, as soon as I told her, she changed me in her phone from sister to brother straight away. And she's like the biggest supporter as well, obviously apart from you.

Claire: Nice.

George: Obviously. But she's like my first big supporter.

Claire: Yeah. She is really, yeah.

George: And she's not afraid to call people out, correct them if they use the wrong pronouns. But yeah, I used social media; I documented my journey on TikTok.

Claire: You can find George on TikTok.

George: Yes, you can.

Claire: Over 70,000 followers now.

George: Okay.

Claire: Sorry.

George: And I use that platform to show that it doesn't matter how old you are as well, it's never too late to live as your true authentic self.

And yeah, I don't really get that much hate. There's a lot of trans people on the app that do get a lot of hate. But I've been quite fortunate where...

Claire: You've had a good response, actually, from what I've seen since we've been together.

George: Yeah.

Claire: It's been nice to see the support out there, not the negatives.

George: Yes.

It's one thing thinking it, but then to go and say to friends, family, go to the doctors and announce it, so to speak, is very hard to do… My family were really supportive. I remember my sister, as soon as I told her, she changed me in her phone from sister to brother straight away.

What Was Your Experience Of The NHS, Being Transgender?

Claire: Thank you. Okay, so what was your experience of the NHS and being transgender, from that first appointment when you went to your GP?

George: So, I can't fault my GP, she’d never met a trans person before, so she actually didn't know what to do.

Claire: Which is common in GP. A lot of healthcare staff just don't know what to do when they're faced with it because there's no education.

George: No, but hats off to where she said, leave it with me, I'm going to research. And she'd come back to me and she was like, you've got have Tavistock or Nottingham that you can go to for the GIT. But other than that, I haven't had any experience with the NHS because I'm still waiting on the NHS-

Claire: For an appointment.

George: ...list. For my first initial appointment. I haven't had my first appointment yet.

Claire: How long have you been waiting, George?

George: Four years.

Claire: Four years. For the first appointment to the gender identity clinic, that is how long people are waiting. And because of that people go private.

George: Yes.

Claire: Which you have done.

George: Which I have done. And luckily my doctors, as well, are doing shared care, which I'm very blessed, but I know a lot of trans people that can't get that when they should be having that. It's their right.

Claire: Yeah. Yeah. So, hormones, surgeries, are on the NHS for transgender people. It's just that process and the wait that's blocking it, unfortunately. Thank you. But your experience overall has been-

George: Has been positive

Claire: Apart from the wait times.

George: Yeah. Has been positive.

Claire: I think by the sounds of it on my end, it sounds like your GPs done a good job, really. She's openly said, I've got no idea what to do. But she's done the research and she shares care, she does bloods and everything for him, prescribes. Really good GP. Thank you.

George: Yes.

Claire: If you're watching. Okay. So in light of the NHS, and we know that GPs and nurses sometimes aren't great, they don't share care, not the best because of the education maybe, whatever reasons, their own opinions and thoughts.

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How Can Nurses & Healthcare Support Trans People In Future?

Claire: How do you think from your point of view, being a trans patient for other trans patients, how can nurses and healthcare support trans people in future?

George: Listen to them and respect them. Know your guidelines, what a person is entitled to. Unfortunately, if a trans person goes into the doctors not knowing that they should be getting NHS support regardless of if they've gone to gone private or not, they're just getting turned away really.

So, it's about if a trans person comes to you and say, can you help me look into this? Please help them. Because it is a real, real struggle.

Claire: And I found that as well with, because I work for a private transgender healthcare company on the side as well. I'm hearing from trans patients themselves that their GPs just don't know anything, so they're just fobbing them off and just saying, “I can't help you”, which isn't good.

People should be doing their research; they should be following the guidelines. There are so many guidelines out there from the NHS to help trans patients. So please do your research. Like George was saying, do your research, know your guidelines, and we'll put a load of guidelines in the link below under the video just so that you've got some there to look at. So hopefully that'll help.

Listen to them and respect them. Know your guidelines, what a person is entitled to… if a trans person comes to you and says, can you help me look into this? Please help them. Because it is a real, real struggle.

How Can Nurses & Other Healthcare Professionals Be Better Allies?

Claire: So, what can you recommend nurses or student nurses or any healthcare professions due to be better allies for the trans community or LGBTQ plus community?

George: If you hear any homophobia, transphobia, or you’re hearing people misgender people or calling them “it” or saying “oh, I don't understand”, please call it out. We are a minority community, we are like 1% of the population, and we are getting so much hate and we need all allies to use their voices because we never get heard. Just so please don't be afraid to call it out either. Like it's about being a decent human being.

Claire: Yeah, that's it. Yeah.

George: And you might not know, you might have a friend who's transgender but hasn't come out yet. Make people feel safe around you because when you are in that… as a trans person, when you go to the doctors and you are coming out, because if you want to go on hormones and everything, we want to be made to feel safe, if that makes sense. We don't want the judgment; we don't want the funny looks.

Claire: And healthcare, we are, nurses especially, voted the most trusted profession, but when people are coming to us, they should feel that trust and feel that safety in our room or wherever you are treating your patient.

George: And, also, please be mindful of social media and what you are putting out there. Because I've had nurses come at me on Twitter.

Claire: Three nurses on Twitter.

George: Three nurses come at me being very transphobic. And it's a hate crime.

Claire: It is a hate crime.

George: Whatever you feel behind closed doors, that's how you feel. But when you put your uniform on and you are in your surgery or you're on the ward or whatever-

Claire: Or even just out in public, not in your uniform, you're still a nurse. You've still got professionalism. And under the Equality Act 2010, transgender people are protected. They're a protected characteristic. So be mindful of your legal things. Your opinion doesn't give you the right to have a ‘freedom of speech’ when it turns into nasty comments that hurt people, that's when it then turns into a hate crime. So just be mindful of that when you're out there please.

Actually, I have a good example. I didn't tell you this, but I was speaking to somebody at work, and she worked with a doctor who was from a different cultural background, and he didn't agree with transgender people. It was his opinion. He didn't understand it, didn't agree with it because of the religion and things like that. However, he was very good because he said, “I know I don't understand it. I'm still going to treat you like the rest of my patients.”

And he referred the patient and he's done everything he can for that patient. And that's good. That's good practice in my opinion.

George: Yeah.

Claire: Like I said, if it's something you don't agree with or it's your personal opinion, push that to the side. You should still be treating your patients like everybody else and helping them like you would anybody. Biggest tip.

George: I love that though.

Claire: I know. That was really nice.

George: That's amazing. Yeah, that is amazing.

Claire: Yeah, it was really nice. And that's the right way to do it.

George: Yeah.

We are like 1% of the population, and we are getting so much hate, and we need all allies to use their voices because we never get heard. So please don't be afraid to call it out.

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Final Tips And Advice

Claire: Exactly that. But yeah. Any last final words or tips or advice for anybody that we haven't spoken about?

George: Be kind.

Claire: Just be kind.

George: Just be kind. Literally just be kind. If you've got nothing nice to say, please don't say it.

Claire: Yeah. Yeah.

George: We've heard a lot of stuff. Like I said, we get portrayed so badly within the media, the newspaper, the government.

Claire: Yeah.

George: It's a hard enough life as it is. So, I wouldn't want you to have the conscience of if you say something disrespectful, you could be the straw that broke the camel's back-

Claire: Exactly.

George: that trans person. And potentially they could take their own life. That's how serious things can get. That's how deep and depressive things can get as a trans person because you feel so isolated.

So just please be that non-judgmental, smile on your face regardless of how you feel about trans people. Leave that at the door.

Claire: Yeah, leave it at the door. And treat your patient with kindness, respect, and dignity. Follow your NMC code of conduct or GMC if you're a doctor.

George: Cat's coming.

Claire: Cat's come to say goodbye. So that is it from us. Thank you so much for listening.

I hope you found this really useful and taken something from it. If you've got any comments (or professional comments, obviously), if you've got any questions, anything, feel free to comment below and we will respond to you or I will, because you're not registered, I will respond to you.

George: But she'll tell me.

Claire: From behalf of both of us. But yeah, I hope you'll have a great day and don't forget to be kind.

About the author

I am a Registered Nurse with over 12 years healthcare experience including: elderly care, orthopaedics, sexual health / family planning, qualified GP nurse, transgender healthcare and now in my new role as an assistant lecturer (as of Nov 2022). I believe that nursing gets a lot of bad press, so I create blogs and vlogs to help anyone considering their nursing career and to create positivity surrounding our profession as I'm so passionate about nursing.

    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
    • Clare Fisher
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Nick Dowling
  • 3
  • 922

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    • Nick Dowling 10 months ago
      Nick Dowling
    • Nick Dowling
      10 months ago

      TY very much Claire and George for this. I am a student nurse on placement in an acute psychiatric unit ... read more

    • Nikki Goodhew 10 months ago
      Nikki Goodhew
    • Nikki Goodhew
      10 months ago

      Really powerful reminder that we all have a long way to go in our learning and understanding. To treat everyone ... read more

    • Matt Farrah one year ago
      Matt Farrah
    • Matt Farrah
      one year ago

      A truly great video, Claire. Thank you and thank you George too. The Q+A style really helped in this context. ... read more

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