As a cisgender person (someone who’s gender identity matches up with what they were born with), I’ve got a host of medical rights that before writing this I admittedly took for granted. Have you ever bemoaned taking a wander up to your local GP because it’s taken 3 weeks since you first called? Or felt frustrated when you get there because you’ll need to hing about 3 months for a specialist because, even though the doctor kens plenty about it, they don’t have the resources to deal with it there and then at the practice?
Before we move on, lets be clear and frank: transgender women are women and transgender men are men just like everyone else. I watched the leaders debate the other day right... and for all the concern shown by the leaders towards people’s mental health, there seemed to be an unwillingness to address the concern directly for this particular audience member. In fairness, the leaders seemed to ignore quite a few of the questions… but the leaders went back to address the audience’s concerns and yet failed on this occasion.
Some will call this coincidence, but I think the response from Willie Rennie to Eilidh says otherwise. He firstly repeated what Eilidh said by first of all stating “It does need to improve.” Repeating again, he claimed it needed “parity” and “support.” Then, instead of going into any sort of length about how he even might try and reassure Eilidh with some sort of action, he gave an age-old empty politician’s pledge of giving her full “commitment” to “argue for” these changes to happen.
And just like that, in a flash, he moved back onto talking about previously discussed issues that were wholeheartedly unspecific to trans healthcare or even waiting times. The worst thing about it was you had 4 other politicians in that room and not one of them burst a gut to do any better. The issue must have got 20 seconds air time at an absolute push and no information about how we’re going to try and move forward tackling it.
One leader that was notably quiet on the issue was Nicola Sturgeon. Around 2 months ago Sturgeon took to social media to post an unplanned, phone-recorded message of support for transgender rights after hearing people may have left the SNP on the grounds of this very issue. She urged that transphobia would be treated on the same level of “zero-tolerance” as racism and homophobia. Quite an emphatic message and it did seem genuine. Nonetheless, she was awfy quiet in this instance.
Again, this isn’t to singular any of the 5 leaders out. It’s something that the whole parliament need to work together on. But given the scrutiny the SNP have been under, coupled with the likelihood of the SNP holding some sort of power next term, you’d think she’d chime in with the same gusto she does with independence.
And that’s when I started to look into it properly and realise… a cisgender person has a host of rights that are completely taken for granted. The politicians don’t even speak about their concerns in the same manner. I don’t have to put on a brave face after hearing judgemental comments made about how I am. When I go to the doctor they have a wealth of knowledge on my problems and 9 times out of 10 can act on it instantaneously. If they’ve no got a clue, they’ll be able to tell me about at least 3 other folk that could help me out and be in touch straight away. If I’m going through some sort of unprecedented changes in my body, I don’t have to travel afar to speak to someone that knows the script. They will give me the info I need there and then. I am who I say I am; I don’t need to go to a government panel at the age of 18, prove that I’ve been the same person I am now for 2 years and have medical reports claiming that I’ve had distress or discomfort on this issue. If I wanted to get married to a lassie tomorrow (aside from a worried sick mother) naebody would bat an eyelid. If my partner then had a bairn, I could pitch up the hospital, cry for help and someone would be there to gee me a hand. I don’t have to go through the mentally draining decision of coming off the hormone treatment that makes me who I am and apply for non-guaranteed NHS funding for my eggs to be frozen. I wouldn’t have to wait a considerable amount of time at the hospital, toying with the hope that I might one day be able to have biological kids but it ultimately all rests on a letter I don’t know when is coming to tell me if I’ve got the funding or not.
The second after trans people begin their transition, all these things many of us take for granted are gone.
And its no a single policy that’s needed, or a meaningless pledge of commitment. It’s a whole transformation in attitude. It’s an open, meaningful discussion with genuine intentions to make things happen. It’s an increased awareness of the hardships some people go through and genuinely giving all human beings a level playing field. The NHS was built on compassion, commitment to quality of care and making sure it counts for everyone. Its written black and white in the constitutional values. I think it’s about time we open the blinds on this one.