The Gatekeeper

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This morning before my meeting, waiting nervously outside the hospital.

I was nervous about today’s meeting, but not in the way people seem to think. I’m not afraid to tell my story or to meet new people. I’m not worried about being denied the medical care I ask for. I’m not afraid to be questioned, I’m well prepared for that and just waiting for an opportunity, for someone to ask and listen. I wont be speechless, quite the opposite.

I’ve been more nervous about getting very conservative questions about my relationships and the gender of my friends and lovers. I dread to be asked to elaborate my own sexual identity or my presumably unhappy childhood. I’m afraid to be judged after the questioners maybe limited understanding of my answers. I don’t want to be misunderstood by the gatekeepers that I have to pass on my journey, but that is a very real risk.

I was disappointed today, at the meeting. I was at the right place in the right time, but when the person in front of me presented himself, I realised that he was not the one I’d expected. He was just another gatekeeper, one of at the least three I’ve met so far. He’s a psychiatrist but does NOT work together with the transgender team responsible for investigation and diagnosis, only in the same house and department so I see now why I was mistaken and got my hopes up.

The procedure is that you must see a psychiatrist before you meet the team and enter the system for real. So it is a step in the right direction, but I thought I’ve already met someone like him and were done with it. I must have mixed things up during the eons of time I’ve been waiting and the long row of people I’ve met in order to get my investigation process started. As things now were, I had to answer all the basic questions about my situation, health, family and such, like I’ve done before with other gatekeepers.

Why do you want to do this investigation? was the first tricky question. It is wide open and I could elaborate on that topic for hours. But for today I was prepared with a short answer, explaining that I feel like a guy and have changed my name and pronoun accordingly. My life would be easier if my registered gender could be changed to match and if I could receive the medical care an investigation such as this could unlock.

So, it is important for you to be addressed as a man? And your name is Emil now? He scribbled something on a piece of paper, thoroughly noting this fact. I was impressed by this, he really got the point without me pushing it down his throat (I’m always ready to do that). This early in our conversation, we had already achieved my set goals for the meeting, him understanding what name and pronoun to use and that I’ve already gone a far way transitioning before we met.

How long have you felt like this, felt like a guy rather than a girl? he asked. This is important since the diagnose criteria states that you have to have felt like this for “a substantial time”. I answered truthfully that I’d never identified myself as a woman, but only lately found out that there are words to describe this, others who feel the same and on top of that – something you can do about it.

He asked about my earlier marriage – Was I married to a man or a woman? Did that person ever question their gender identity? Did I myself, during the marriage? For how long were you married? Where do you live now? In a large apartment with your best friend. What gender does your friend have? Do you live together as friends or as a couple? 

I got a bit annoyed with this, his assuming that friends don’t have sex but couples do. If he thinks it of importance whom I sleep with or not, I’d prefer if he asked directly. As it now were, I pretended not to understand what he was after. Who I have sex with and what my preferences on gender are when it comes to attraction is really not important at this early stage, if ever.

If I have a partner or not (or more than one) is of huge importance tough, I’ll need a good network and solid support to go trough an investigation process as this. But he did not ask about that, so I said nothing. Later, when we talked about my family’s history when it comes to health an heredity, I explained that my friends, partners and family are 100% behind me on this and that I feel that I’ve gotten so much closer to them trough this process, coming out as the person I really am. My intentions where to give him the information he missed to ask me about and I hope he got it.

Then he asked if I was in a hurry with this investigation thing and how important it is to me? I told him that I expect the process to take somewhere between 2 – 4 years and that it means the world to me. He marvelled at this, obviously having no idea himself that it could take so long time. But he seemed to understand that this was important to me and that I had a good idea about the time-frame.

He was confused when I used expressions such as “transition” instead of his “gender swap” or “gender dysforia” to describe the particular sensation of gender related anxiety I sometimes feel. I sighed under the weight of this never ending educational task you seem to have as a transgender person, you have to enlighten and educate everyone you meet, even within the medical care system.

PicsArt_1399056408082[1]All in all, it was a good and efficient first meeting. Now, my plan is to repeatedly and regularly call the transgender team and politely tell them that I’ve seen the psychiatrist down the hall and that I’m ready and eager to meet them as well.

I think I can be rather persuasive.