For a process that isn’t supposed to smack of gatekeeping today smacked suspiciously of erm…gatekeepers.
First gatekeeper at the local community mental helath centre is a lady with a poe face and a form.
Her role is to make sure the patient isnt depressed or anxious and that lots of boxes are ticked correctly.
My first concern was that I was going to be kicked out of the session.
Our second that news hadn’t filtered to her that the session was no longer needed to discuss ‘coming out’ to me as ‘there i was large as life and obviously told’.
With hindsight we should have insisted i stay in the room, there was nothing my partner would have been unhappy talking about in front of me and the morning only served to make me feel shut out.
I was asked into the session at the end to have the fact that he only feels depressed or anxious when he thinks about the NHS process explained to me (no shit Sherlock).
The gatekeeper with the form suggested i get a referral for counselling about my own issues around this and although we both clearly said i don’t have major issues with the actual transition but ongoing issues around self esteem and depression that i’d like adressed and will be adressing with our Doctor tomorrow , she insited on repeating several times that i’d probably need counselling about THIS issue.
THIS issue has just made us reappraise our entire lives….and we’ll continue doing so probably for a long time yet (and hopefully some of the positive talking habits will last forever between us). I guess a lot of things will need addressing along this journey, its a fabulous chance to improve all manner of things. The sort of stuff couples and families allow to fester or coagulate into areas one learns to avoid at all costs.
This major change in our lives is making us look at all mannerof things in a new light and with fresh eyes.
I don’t need counselling becuase my partner is emerging from her chrysalis, I need it for a life time of being fucked up and the fact that this is a process we will be struggling against and a whole loads of societal preconceptions about the way things should be.
I’m supposed to be shocked and appalled my partner is changing gender.
I’m happy she is uncovering her gender.
I’m supposed to wan’t to run away from the person i love.
I want to work with her to keep our relationship on an even keel, i know she can get through this better with me here and that our children will suffer less by having a tranny for a dad than they would from us splitting up.
I’m supposed to be terrified of not being heterosexual.
I’m not, I’m not even sure this makes me a lesbian, not becuase i refuse to see my partner as a woman…but becuase this shift in her life pulls the rug from under all our feet. I’m not sure i’d want to describe myself as a woman anymore.
I’m not sure i want to play this purely binary heteronormative (and i swore i’d never use that word…but the NHS have already driven me to it) game at all.
I just want us to be seen as two individuals who want to get through this together. I don’t want assumptions about my gender preference or my sexual orientation. Perhaps in a world where those assumptions don’t get made people like my partner wouldn’t hate their biological gender so much they want to physically change to match whats inside.
I can understand how this is a sytem set up for people who aren’t aware of gender issues…. but as a household we are and it is achingly patronising to be treated as totally unaware.
todays gatekeeper said ‘you shall pass’ and passes us on to gatekeeper two (local psychatrist) who will not let us pass unto gatekeeper three (gender psychatrist) until no doubt more boxes are ticked.
This feels like a fight and not a collaboration already.
Maybe it needs some sortof mentor system where they try to understand what level you should enter the formal process at…. but i guess that would just become the gatekeeper who listens and cares who comes before the gatekeeper with the form and the poe face.
But thats step two….we are on the ladder of psychiatric gateways.
One last thought…. at no point in our two days of engagement with the system has anyone asked my partner what name he/she would like to be called or indeed which pronoun she/he would prefer.
We suspect that gatekeeper one just ticked a box labelled male on the big form this morning without thinking to ask.