Transgender performance poet Jay Hulme gave a thought-provoking talk at Queen’s Hospital on Friday 28 June about his experiences of healthcare during his transition.
It was part of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust’s Pride celebrations.
Jay, now 22, visited his GP to start the transition just after his 18th birthday and told how he was ‘lucky’ to only have to wait 18 months for a referral to a gender clinic; in some areas the wait could be up to four years.
He shared his difficulty in getting the testosterone he needed, the fear of talking about his depression caused by waiting to get the care he needed in case it caused even further delays, and even how a simple blood test led to him being asked about his genitalia.
His message to healthcare workers was to be respectful of trans patients, not to ask weird, inappropriate questions and to call out transphobia.
He said: “I think it’s really important to talk to doctors and healthcare staff about my experience. Everyone will end up in hospital at one point so it’s much better to be prepared for a trans patient before they come in.
“As I’m not a patient here, it’s easy for me to speak freely, whereas patients may feel unable to do so when things go wrong. And it’s an opportunity for them to ask me questions about all the things they want know – so they don’t ask their patients those awkward questions!”
Jay also raised important concerns about how being transgender could affect patients as they age, including how some illnesses may present differently in male or female patients which could be missed if a doctor does not know a patient is transgender, and how dementia could lead to them identifying with their former gender.
There was also an exhibition of key dates since Pride began following the Stonewall riots, and many more members of Trust made their rainbow pledges, signing up to the NHS’ rainbow badge scheme, showing their support for the LGBT+ community.
The celebrations were led by the Trust’s LGBT+ network, which aims to give a voice to staff and patients in this community, making both Queen’s and King George hospitals welcoming and inclusive for everyone.