One of the great bonuses I have experienced from Twitter is the amazing trans people I have found (and often become friends with) from all over the world. Their stories vary from the horrific physical attacks in Uganda to more positive ones from some other countries. One such story is that from Natalie, who as a Dutch citizen, is now transitioning in the UK.
As trans folk in the UK, we often feel we are disadvantaged in healthcare. But usually not having experienced it in other countries; it is something we cant compare. Natalie is different though, now in her late thirties and working in the north of England, she has found acceptance both socially and in her workplace. In fact, she has had excellent support working with over forty other people (mainly women), and she describes the company she works for as "Ace."
Natalie tried to start her transition back in 2005 in Holland but had problems not just from the Dutch healthcare system but rather surprisingly Dutch society as well. She wrote " I tried to start my transition in the Netherlands, and that experience left me really down. A lot of people think that the Netherlands is this utopia of acceptance, but sadly I would say its the opposite, I have heard more homophobia and transphobia comments in the Netherlands than here in the UK."
Commenting about trans healthcare in Holland she continued:- "For example in the Netherlands I had to go through a nasty multi-psychologist review, of which one psychologist told me, you are suicidal, we should keep you here - but I have never been suicidal, depressed sure, but never suicidal". Natalie explained the criteria in obtaining healthcare in Holland before coming to the UK in 2006, which would seem draconian to today's standards. She admits things have improved in Holland over the last fifteen years, but still believes the UK is better.
Her one UK gripe is waiting times at her GIC, which she has found mentally exhausting and certainly contributed to occasional depression. She mailed me her healthcare timeline, which like so many trans folk experiences makes sad reading given she initially was looking at transition over a decade and a half ago.
Natalie admits she is possibly at the best GIC in the country with far shorter waiting times than at other GIC's, that the care they and her GP offer is generally high, but it comes back to one major factor - time to get that care.
Over two years before getting hormones (which could have been prescribed by her GP) and her full transition taking fifteen years from her start in Holland. And in the UK - seven years at a good GIC is a big chunk out of anybody's life.
But despite the waiting times, Brexit and the hate that we see on Twitter and Mumsnet, Natalie has no plans to return to Holland - now making the UK her permanent home where she is happy and of course very welcome.