Worried about ‘making the cut’ for transition service support…

I have a question/concern that I see answered – partially – in a few places, but not really answered to the point I am comfortable.

I have discussed my MtF transition with my doctor, I have expressed interest in “getting the ball rolling”.  He is very “old rules” and believes that everything is supposed to go through CAMH.

Twelve months ago (close to 13 now), I completed my CAMH application.  I was able to talk to a CAMH representative for a few seconds before the holidays (basically to be sure they still have me on their list and haven’t forgotten about me). They mentioned to have supporting documentation (change of name, current hormone prescriptions, any supporting … well anything).  They also mentioned that I am being “evaluated” for surgery.

… Ummmm, here is the *problem*.  I am having my 3rd “laser hair removal” treatment on Thursday (good results so far), I … hmmm I hmmm … well I know what I want.   *ARG.

I want to apply for change of name – but I haven’t even gotten the ‘nod from my family doctor (he is waiting for the CAMH evaluation/approval), I haven’t started any HRT, well … see above.  I am part of quite a few online support groups, sisters and brothers and allies all over the world.  My partner and my family (sister) are very supportive.  I have gone to “galas” at various places and have my cosmetic colours.

I guess I am afraid that I will be there and not “make the cut”.  I am not looking for a “rubber stamp” for surgery; I just am looking for a chance to start to live the life that I have been denied for way too many years.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hey there,

It sounds like you’re feeling a little frustrated by the hoops you’re jumping through to lead the life you want. I’m also getting that maybe you’re concerned that you ‘won’t make the cut’, as you said, and get the support to access transition services that you want.

I’m hearing that you’ve made a lot of important steps towards your transition already, and I think it’s really amazing that you’re stepping up to make these changes! It can be difficult to work around all of the red tape within our government’s medical system, and I think you should be proud of the courageous way you’re working towards your goals. It also sounds like you have lots of support around you, which is really awesome! I think it helps to draw on those supports when we feel frustrated about the challenges life throws our way.

I noticed that you mentioned that you haven’t got the ‘nod’ from your family doctor, and that you connected this to getting your name changed. Legally changing your name in Ontario doesn’t require approval from a medical professional – you can go ahead and start that process anytime. Here’s where you can get more information about how to legally change your name in Ontario. What may be tricky for you is that while you can change your name, it’s more challenging to change your sex on your identification, there are more hoops to jump through and you likely will need documentation from a medical practitioner. However, if you’re comfortable with having an incongruent name/sex on your ID for a while, changing your name to be congruent with the gender between your ears is a great step that is strongly encouraged by CAMH (but is not required).

Speaking of CAMH, I checked out their website and found some pages that may be useful for you:

Gender Identity Clinic: Criteria for those seeking hormone/surgery

Frequently Asked Questions about Surgery Approvals at the Gender Identity Clinic at CAMH

It seems like CAMH has gone through some staff and policy changes in the last few years, and while this may have slowed down their ability to process applications, it may ultimately make their services more accessible for folks like yourself.

If you have specific questions about the Gender Identity Clinic at CAMH’s approach to providing services and conducting assessments, or what is in their jurisdiction (so to speak) and what isn’t, contact Dr. Nicola Brown at nicola.brown@camh.net, she’s friendly and would be more than happy to answer your questions!

Hopefully this information will help you along your transition path.

In the mean time, if you want to talk or rant, chat with us! Our volunteers would be happy to listen, help you brainstorm, or connect you to resources. Our chat is open everyday except Tuesdays from 5-10 pm at qlinks.ca/outline.

And of course, if you have other specific questions, I’ll be happy to try and answer them!

All the best,

-Liz

UPDATE: There’s a new monthly social meet-up for trans and non-binary folks. Gender Intersect meets the 3rd Monday of every month at the Red Brick Café, 8 Douglas St., at 7 pm.

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