Category Archives: Transhealth

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

When a pebble is dropped in still water the ripples expand across the surface growing larger and larger. Today I am going to ask each of us, who feels able to, to become a little pebble.

Just before my surgery Janey and I discussed the high rate of suicide within the transgender community with Sim Courtie on BBC Radio Wiltshire. The latest statistics show 48% of transgender people attempt suicide before the age of 25. This compares to a figure of 23% among the general population in the same age range.

There are ways we can significantly reduce this figure. In fact, we can almost eradicate it. Statistics have proven that 93% of transgender suicide attempts could be avoided if the transgender individual felt safe, accepted and supported by their family and friends. Teenage years are problematic and stressful at the best of times, but when an individual is faced with the feelings of rejection, isolation and degradation because of their gender identity they are even more vulnerable.

The families of transgender people need support as much as we do. They may not feel the anguish of dysphoria or face the life-changing surgeries and psychological processes as we do but they are being taken on the journey of transition along with us. That cannot be easy.

We may have to wait a long time for our various therapies but they are out there and available to us. Who does a parent turn to when a daughter becomes a son? Who is there to offer understanding and support to a child whose dad is now another mum? What support is given to our partners? To support us there has to be support for our families as and when they need it.

In my time as a support group organizer I have been asked too many times by a parent, a partner, and children the following questions: – “What can I do?” “Who will listen to me?” “Is it my fault?” I believe our families deserve better than this, much better than this. We have to find some way of offering counselling, peer support and networking so there is someone our family members can turn to.

As part of my transition I regularly attend a Gender Identity Clinic in Exeter. On the walls of the waiting room are various posters for the different groups offering support to MtF, FtM, Non-Binary, Trans with disabilities and trans youth. There is nothing at all for our families. This needs to be changed so that the needs of supporting family are recognized. By supporting them they are able to support us and that suicide rate will fall.

As a group STGG and TransSwindon will always welcome our supportive family and friends. We value our allies. Every time a supporter comes to our meetings I see a difference and a greater understanding. I hope they feel as much a part of our community as the transgender members. By working together, we are making a small but valuable dent on that 48%. By making that small difference, the little pebble, the effects ripple outward to the wider community. So if we can be a little pebble, all of us can make a difference that can be lifesaving.

 

© JG Farmer Litt.D. 2016

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Transhealth Needs Matter

Transhealth needs matter

 

Today I met with Sara from Swindon’s Healthwatch. Unsurprisingly there is little mention of transhealth needs in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and what mention there is in there is diabolical.

 So what is a JSNA?

A Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) looks at the current and future health and care needs of local populations to inform and guide the planning and commissioning (buying) of health, well-being and social care services within a local authority area.

Transhealth needs in Swindon come under Men’s Sexual Health – yes, the flaw in that alone is obvious. Not only is being transgender tucked into Men’s Sexual Health but that of gay and homosexual men.

Predominantly this is a report about the needs for cis-gender gay and bi men and tagged into it is one paragraph covering transgender people, all transgender people. Transgender people are given this paragraph.

“This group can self identify as either male or female, and further can identify as being heterosexual or homosexual. They can fall into Transgender, Transsexual, or cross dressing. As a rule they are very private individuals, and numbers are not known or fully understood, however, it is believed that transgender (pre and post operative) account for 1 in every 11,500 in the UK, but within this group that does not allow for any knowledge of sexual behavioural identity. Consequently it is currently impossible to quantify the number of Trans people in any area, who fit into the MSM category”

 

The full report can be found here

http://www.swindonjsna.co.uk/dna/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-people-health-needs-assessment

Transgender covers so much more than sexual health. The process of transition is not covered; the health screening needs of transgender people are not covered. A transperson has to monitor and instigate their screening tests because normal health screening services are made for the identified gender whereas some services may be required given the birth gender.

I also question the stats used. If 1 in 11500 people are transgender that would make 17 in Swindon. STGG and TransSwindon both have more than that on a regular basis and there is a significant variation in members to mean it is likely to be far higher than 17, nearer 50 at a rough guess. That is 50 people whose health needs are not being met by this JSNA. Given that some transgender people are invisible it makes me wonder just how high that number could be.

The JSNA needs to be amended to reflect the unique needs of the transperson. Sara has kindly provided a survey for us to complete but it needs to be by the end of June 2015. It is anonymous and can be done discreetly via TransSwindon.  If you want to make your voice heard contact us at transswindon@gmail.com.