Happy Friday, Everybody!
We're delighted to share today's guest blog with you all. 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us - and particularly for those in the trans community. With the challenges faced by trans people this year alone, it's as important as ever to remain vocal in our support for trans people around the world. Because of this, we asked Dr Helen Webberley, Founder of GenderGP.com (and fierce ally to the transgender community!) to take part in a Q&A. Read on to see what she has to say about the current times and how to uplift the trans community!
1) What's your biggest piece of advice for allies wondering where they can improve in their support for the trans community?
I feel that those who are historically unsupportive tend to be that way for one of two reasons: one, they don't have the necessary knowledge, experience or education, so they just 'assume' that the anti-trans narrative must have some weight. Two - they, for whatever reason, have an unconscious bias towards trans people and as such they tend to lean more towards those arguments that support their bias.
The first is easier to dispel than the latter. We need to share knowledge, real stories, experiences, anecdotes. Show people that trans people are just a beautiful part of our society. A wonderful example of human variation on the colourful spectrum upon which we all sit.
It is precisely because the second is ‘with intent’ rather than ‘due to ignorance’ that it is harder to fight against, and that is what makes it so wearing.
So my advice to anyone wanting to truly affect change is to tackle the first and ignore the second. 'Arguing' with those who see trans people as a problem - whether they are aware of this fact or not - is pointless. We must try to avoid anything that gives the haters a platform. This can be hard when hurtful things are being said, but as is the case with any bully - if you ignore them, they will eventually get bored and move on to the next thing.
2) Trans youth have been facing more challenges than in previous years in the UK due to the British press, statements from public figures and potential government changes - do you have any advice for young trans people who perhaps aren't feeling supported at the moment?
Believe in yourself. Remember that there are just as many positive voices, as there are negative ones - so listen to the good and block the bad! Do not try and suppress your identity, but surround yourself with those who love and support you, they are the ones who will keep you positive, sane and safe. Trans people have always been part of natural human variation. You have just as much right as the next person to be part of this beautifully diverse world in which we live.
3) Lockdown has been particularly hard for trans people whose medical transitions have been delayed. What is your advice for trans people who are now seeing an end in sight for lockdown, and feel the strain of battling the backlog of appointments as medical practices begin to open up and pick up the pace again with tending to trans patients?
I honestly don't know what will happen with NHS services after lockdown. But it is your right to access healthcare within an 18 week timeframe - whatever your medical needs may be. My advice is never stop fighting for your rights. Shout loudly, write lots of letters. Do not accept anything less than the care you deserve. If you are a young trans person and you are struggling, make your voice heard. Make it clear to your healthcare provider that doing nothing is not a neutral option, particularly if it will result in your going through a puberty that will cause long-standing damage.
If private care is an option, check out our Help Centre and see if there’s anything we can do to help alleviate your dysphoria while you wait to be seen.
4) How can medical professionals make sure they're always treating trans patients equally?
I have two key pieces of advice for medical professionals faced with a trans patient:
1. Ask yourself one simple question: If this was a CIS patient asking about body image issues, overlarge breasts, period problems, hormone imbalance, excessive facial hair, abnormal growth - would your attitude, advice or treatment be any different?
2. Get informed. Our website is a great place to start. Sign up to our blog and subscribe to our podcast. Learn as much as you can.
5) What's your favourite part of working for the trans community?
I love their fierce, staunch bravery. I smile as I write this thinking about all the people who, despite all the adversity, continue to fight to live their lives authentically. As Sam, not Sally. As Penny, not Peter. And as each one does, they make things that little bit easier for those who follow. Do not ever give up on being you.
Thank you to Dr Helen Webberley for taking part, and to GenderGP for all that they do for the transgender community. We hope this is helpful, informative, and inspiring to our readers. For more information on the incredible support provided by GenderGP to the trans community, click here.