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Trans man left waiting 13 years for surgery as council deemed it ‘not vital’

Trans man left waiting 13 years for surgery as council deemed it ‘not vital’

A trans man in Lincoln has spoken out about his experience | Stock picture: UnSplash

A trans man in Lincoln, England, said he was left waiting for 13 years for gender affirmation surgery after Lincolnshire County Council dubbed it ‘not vital.’

John, 42, started his transition 23 years ago in 1998 and has described the process as a ‘nightmare.’

The man has spoken out about his experience. One of drawn-out waiting times, and sinking into severe depression while being a single parent.

What happened?

According to Lincolnshire Live, John encountered a route to surgery that was at times restrictive, inaccessible, and emotionally draining.

‘Most GPs, even to this day, don’t have training in gender reassignment. You have to educate them. You have to educate yourself and then your GP,’ John said.

‘Once you’re referred to the gender identity clinic, they then made you do the “real life” test which is when you have to live as your preferred gender to prove you are serious about transitioning.’

‘I was accused of fraud’

John changed his name on all identifying documents and lived as a man before he could receive hormone therapy.

‘The problem is that I looked completely female but I had to live as a man. Going into gent’s toilets, using ID with “Mr” on.

‘I was refused benefits because the person at the post office didn’t believe I was who I said I was. It also happened in the bank where I was accused of fraud.

‘I was having to out myself again and again to strangers. All while having to jump through unbelievable hoops to get surgery.’

‘The impact on my life was huge’

Authorities placed John on a waiting list for more than eight years. All the while feeling he was caught in limbo.

‘The impact on my life was huge,’ he said. ‘It affected my kids and it affected me as a parent. I had to bind my chest every day which was extremely painful.

‘When I wore my binder I could hardly breathe. I had bruising on all my ribs and skin problems from sweating under it. It completely ruled my life and yet I received no support from the services available.

‘I sunk into a severe depression. Unfortunately the medical professions I saw didn’t see me being trans and my depression as being linked.

‘They wanted me to compartmentalise things, to treat them as separate, which only made things worse.’

Gender affirmation surgery dubbed not ‘vital’

Moreover, when John was finally referred for surgery in 2009, he applied for child care support while he went into surgery from Lincolnshire County Council.

‘I was a single parent on my own with two children, one of which has learning difficulties.

‘The majority of my friends had abandoned me because I was trans, and my family, whom I didn’t have much contact with, lived too far away. So I contacted social services to request child care support.’

However, the council asked what the operation was that would result in the father being unable to work.

‘In my opinion, if I have a referral from my doctor, and in my case an entire panel of specialists who are recommending me for an operation, then that should be enough.’

As a result, the council denied John child support, once in 2009 and once again in 2011.,

‘When social services had refused to help me twice, I decided to request the paperwork to see what their decision was based.

‘I found out that when the council contacted my daughter’s school to verify her special needs, the school had also told the council that I was transgender.

‘From this information it was apparent that the council had decided that my surgery must be trans related and therefore wasn’t “vital” surgery.

Due to this, John was forced to wait 13 years for his children to be able to financially support themselves before he could have his operation.

‘It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am’

John finally received his operation in 2016 followed by a second procedure in 2017.

‘I feel the sense that  I haven’t gone through all this just to let people push me around and tell me what to do.

‘It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am. When you initially transition you’re focused on looking the part but once you get past that you start to be a little more reflective.

‘I’m quite happy to just let people lump it nowadays and be happy with who I am.’

Council responds

Janice Spencer, interim director of Children’s Services at Lincolnshire County Council, told the local paper: ‘We can’t discuss details of individual cases.

‘We can confirm that any referrals into children’s services, including cases like these, are considered carefully and objectively and assessed according to need.”

*John’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

See also

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