NHS Is a Life Saving Treatment – not ‘Whims’ of trans people

Speaking on her LBC Radio show today Katie Hopkins has yet again hit out at the transgender community saying NHS treatment panders to transgender peoples’ “whims”

After revealing that people are waiting extended times for their cataract operations and the NHS is in debt, Hopkins asked:

“Do we really need to pander to the trans community and their whims? I say no.”

When will she realise that coming out and saying that you are trans is not something that you would do on a whim. Nearly half of young trans folk have attempted suicide because of the lack of understanding from society and they just do not feel safe that they can turn to anyone for help. Is it any wonder when you have the likes of Katie Hopkins voicing her unhealthy opinion for all to hear?

Katie Hopkins would probably argue that it has become “fashionable” or its even a “lifestyle” but the reality is that trans people were always there. Before there was treatment and people courageous enough to come out as trans, many people ended up, and still do, with mental health issues and quite often feeling suicidal because they were constantly battling with the fact that their own gender identity didn’t match their outward appearance.

I’m extremely grateful that the NHS helped me to transition because without their vital services and support I most probably wouldn’t be here now. Since about the age of seven or eight  I had felt that there was something wrong because I hated the way my body presented as male. I liked playing with my cousins’ dolls at every opportunity, I longed to be just like them even though I knew nothing about transgender people as there was no internet or social media in them days.

I found it very difficult to make male friends and associate with them and as time went on I became more and more of a social recluse. I couldn’t socialise with the girls as I would have been call a sissy or a fairy. Towards the end of primary school and the beginning of secondary I found out through newspapers about transgender people but these where articles that ridiculed them which horrified me, “is this who I am?” I asked myself… I didn’t want to be seen as a freak or be a laughing stock. If my parents had found out I was sure that I would have been thrown out and been put into care or worse a mental institution geting electric shock therapy.

Justine Smithies
Justine Smithies

Along came the internet which allowed me to read about other transgender people and see that I wasn’t alone and not the only person who felt the way I did about my gender identity. But still I did not have the courage or strength to try and seek help and carried on with life, over compensating my male role so as to not be discovered. I met the love of my life Julie in 1990 and we married in 1997 having three children.

Life consisted of me going to work and coming home to my family. I didn’t go out and make friends as I never felt comfortable within myself. Life really just did consist of gettting up, going to work and coming home to see my family stuck on repeat. I became depressed but couldn’t say why, I couldn’t even do the simple things like going out for a coffee on my own or going shopping as I felt so socially awkward. I relied heavily on my wife Julie to do all these things for me or with me.

I had become trapped by my the hatred of my own body and my gender identity. It wasn’t until I was about 36 and our marraige was going down hill very fast because I had become so depressed and really felt that there was nothing left in life and the very idea of being able to be myself Justine was just insane. I had reached the point where I didn’t care about myself, my wife, my kids or anything to that mattered and it was horrible. So knowing that I couldn’t go on and really had nothing to lose I blurted out to my wife one night that she was married to a freak as I was so scared to say that I was transgender. I had built up in my head that she would respond by calling me a disgusting pervert and that I would have been thrown out of my home never allowed to see my children and quite possibly losing my job too.

Now I’m not going to go into anymore detail about what happened other than to say that my wife over many nights of talking and screaming asking questions if our lives had been a lie, decided to stick with me as just like we had promised in our wedding vows. She took me to see my NHS doctor who maybe didn’t understand at first but went out of his way to find me the best support and counselling that was availbale to me. He also helped arrange after about two years of living in the role of my correct gender, the surgery that I required to complete my personal transition. I had my last surgery funded by the NHS in May 2013 and since then I have never felt better. I am a more confident person and do the things that everyone else takes for granted. Even my employer has said that my work has improved substantially because of the help that I received from the NHS. If I Had not had this help to transition then either I wouldn’t be here writing this now because things had really gotten that bad or I would have needed life long support from NHS mental health services.

Katie Hopkins also said in the interview: “Is it OK that we are paying for these individuals and their life choices? … It don’t think it is as it goes. … I don’t think we should be paying for trans people to have their eggs frozen on the NHS.”

Firstly, let me explain that gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatments can often make trans people infertile or cause fertility issues.

So, as a matter of routine the NHS currently offers the choice of freezing eggs so that trans people can have children at a later date, its exactly the same choice it gives to cancer patients and other treatments that my cause infertility.

And this is very important: Being trans is not a “whim”, “fashionable” or even a “lifestyle”. In fact most trans people feel just as I did, I had no choice at all about how I lived my life. Many, like I did, felt so distressed about it that our only wish was to try and fit in, causing us mental health issues and often social derision. This is not a choice, no one would choose to live in a way that would risk their mental health and make them the target of abuse and threats. Transgender may decide to transition or not, and our decision to transition is usually involuntary, not a “whim”. This is because gender being is forced upon since our birth, in a way which was inconsistent with our own experience of our genders.

And importantly, we have always existed, been there, through societies such as ancient Egypt, Roman, and American-Indian and others who even acknowledged our place and constructed us roles.

So Katie Hopkins is absolutely right to say that the NHS is for Life Saving Treatment, it has saved my life and many other trans people.  Without this service we would have been in been trapped in a terrible mental health state due the fact that gender is being foisted upon us, causing us suffering and being unable to lead a healthy life.

 

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