I was born in 1950, one of a set of male twins. From 1954 I felt that I was different to my brother. However, my parents said I was going through a phase.

I am a transgender woman. I thought that it might be useful to explain what I am doing to educate people about transgenderism.

Gender identity

I lived as a male until my mother died, my father had already died, so I was in my late 30s when I was finally referred to a private specialist, who said he thought that I may be transgender.

Eventually, in 1991 I was referred to the gender identity clinic at Charing Cross Hospital but waited nearly a year for my first appointment. I attended the clinic for three years and was referred for surgery. But when I developed a pulmonary embolism, I was advised not to undergo any surgery.

However, in 2013 I developed lung cancer and had to have surgery to remove it. Surgery was successful and after it I decided to return to the gender identity clinic and pursue gender reassignment surgery. I had to start from scratch, so I did not get my full gender reassignment surgery until 2019.

Speaking to colleagues

In 1995 I worked at the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) and on my very first day I decided to speak to my new colleagues about being transgender. I described what it is like to be transgender and answered any questions they had. Everyone was fully accepting once they realised that they could ask me anything.

Since then, I have spoken to other groups of staff at the RBH and given similar talks to my local integrated care system (formally the clinical commissioning group), Thames Valley Police, and Sue Ryder.

I started talking to these other groups was because I was asked if I could broaden the knowledge of their staff. Everyone knows what life is like but being transgender is very different.

Long waits

At present the total number of transgender people waiting for their first appointment is 21,000. The shortest waiting time is one year, while at one gender identity clinic, they are just seeing people for their very first appointment who were referred in 2019.

I have spoken to people on the waiting list who have said that they were going to kill themselves. The reason for this is because GPs cannot start treatment until the patient has had their first appointment at a gender identity clinic. Also the problem is that GPs don’t get any funding for the extra work involved.

I feel the work I am doing by talking to these groups and answering their questions, is very important as transgender people need support and care. I have lived through the whole experience so I feel that I can help. Everyone is different so each person has to be dealt with differently.

For more information on healthcare for trans people, you can visit www.transactual.org.uk/healthcare-trans

Anne has very kindly offered to support other transgender people seeking healthcare, including transitioning. If you’d like to contact Anne please send an email to us at [email protected] and we’ll pass your email on to Anne. Also, if you’d like Anne to come and talk to your organisation about the what life is like for a trans person, send your requests to us and we’ll pass those on too.