Lucy's 1st GIC appointment was booked for 9.45am on 22nd November 2016. We didn't want to go from home as she is not full time we didn't want nosy neighbours seeing us leave as Lucy was going fully dressed. So we booked a hotel in the GIC area and went off to stay there for the evening. As it was only a 30 minute drive from home we left late in the evening.
We arrived at the hotel which was part of a chain that we have stayed in before and we had an unusually tiny room. All seemed ok and we had the first room just through some double doors by the lift on the 5th floor. We sat and chatted for a bit and when I went to clean my teeth it turned out there was no cold water only red hot... and even the toilet was flushing with hot water. Yes really! The night staff came and had a look and couldn't sort it out so they offered us another room but by this time it was 1am and we were all settled in and didn't want to move so instead they gave us a key to another room so we could shower in there. Our room turned out to be quite noisy and there was lots of door slamming as we were near the double doors, noise from the traffic, people's alarms going off and not being switched off, hairdryers etc compounded by the fact I have a cold and a hacking cough so we didn't get much if any sleep. A late night, no sleep and early morning was not what we wanted.
Eventually we got up and started to get ready for the appointment. We had booked a taxi to pick us up at 9.15 and we were ready just in time. It was a very expensive mini cab ride, £9 to travel 1.8 miles.
We were dropped outside the door which was nothing special and it didn't look like a clinic entrance at all and it was above a Sainsburys Local store. As we were standing there a trans man came over and told us what buzzer to press and we all went in together.
It was up several flights of stairs and reception was straight in front. We were the first people to arrive and the receptionists were very friendly, took Lucy's details and we were told to sit and wait. We were waiting to see Jess Gran.
As we sat there several other people arrived and they seemed to be mainly trans men. We were called through for our appointment 20 minutes later than arranged.
Jess Gran was happy for me to accompany Lucy into the room and we sat down. She explained that this would be the first assessment and would take just over an hour. As time was limited she would move the session along if we were running out of time. She had lots of sections on her computer screen and started asking probing questions to Lucy about how she was feeling, her childhood, when did she feel the way she did and basically her life story right up to this point and all the feelings along the way and also our involvement in the trans community. More probing questions about relationships, body dismorphia, suicidal thoughts, who knows about the situation at this time and plans and fears and what is stopping her being full time now. Although I have heard most of Lucy's stories something always comes out this type of session I didn't know and listening to her speak was very emotional. Here was the person I love so very much telling all her personal thoughts, experiences and memories.
Jess was very good and it did all feel very personal. I interjected when I thought I had something to add to Lucy's words and the whole session went very smoothly. She arranged for Lucy to go on the waiting list for voice therapy, will send through details to her for access to facial laser treatment and also send through a request to our GP to issue a prescription for the Finasteride and Vaniqa cream although she did say that some GP's refuse to issue a prescription for the Vaniqa as it is a very expensive cream which has been blacklisted by the NHS. She also offered counselling sessions which Lucy did not feel she had a need for and also told her that if she had suicidal thoughts and felt she needed someone to ring the Samaritans, 999 or go to the local A&E.
At the end of the session she recapped on everything and explained that before any hormone treatment could be started on the NHS Lucy would need a second session with another therapist. This appointment would be in 6-9 months but she was happy for Lucy to continue with the hormone treatment she is receiving from the online Gender GP. She did explain that once this 2nd session is completed and they are in agreement to treat her (with an end goal of full SRS) that a transition would need to be done from the hormone treatment she is currently on to the one they provide as it is different. She also wanted a blood test to be done immediately in Charing Cross hospital itself which was a 5 minute walk away and gave us a form to take.
We came out of the GIC and we both felt great. Lucy is now in the system and the cogs are moving albeit very slowly. We walked to the hospital and went to the phlebotomy department where she was seen within 5 minutes. I thought Lucy was being so brave as apart from when we were at Sparkle in Manchester where she was walking out and about in the day on a trans weekend, she has never walked out dressed in public in the day before.
We then went down to Snappy Snaps for her to get some passport type pictures which she needs to change over her driving licence and taxi driver documents. The shop was quite busy but Lucy sat there confidently while her photo was taken. We then popped into Cafe Nero for a coffee and Greggs the bakers for some sausage rolls as we had not had breakfast and by this time it was gone midday. We proceeded to walk down the whole of Hammersmith high street to the hotel which was over a mile away from this point. She got a couple of funny looks, many people didn't even notice her and quite a few smiles. No transphobic comments despite walking past quite a few workmen. This of course made Lucy's confidence soar on what was panning out to be a great day.
We got back to the hotel so she could get changed back to 'him' which is always sad however we were both buzzing with the events of the day so far. Everything had gone so much better than expected. On checking out Lucy explained the issues that we had with the room and the hotel refunded the payment in full. An unexpected bonus to an already great day.
It didn't take too long to get home and we were not in for very long before we were off out again. Lucy had 2 hours booked with the tattooist still trying to complete the full arm cover up. I cannot express enough what great people they are. Both husband and wife were there and they asked about the days events as they knew where Lucy had been. They are genuinely interested and conversation with them is just so easy. This is the 8th time in 7 weeks that Lucy has been there and they feel like old friends. What was really lovely is that she always goes as 'him' however they only know her as Lucy. They mentioned that they had seen her in the town centre looking in the window of a shop (a lovely clothes shop) a few days ago but as she was dressed as 'him' didn't want to surprise her by calling 'Lucy!'.... they don't know 'his' name and they were not particularly near to her at the time. This made us all smile. So 2 and a half hours later and there is now more colour on the peonies and it just looks so gorgeous. They think there is only an hour or so left on that arm now however Lucy is booked in next week for the colour to start being added to the Phoenix. That will be a long job.
While we were there Lucy received a call from the GIC advising that her next appointment will be 11th September 2017, in 10 months time! That was far longer than expected and she has been put on the cancellation list should anything become available sooner. This NHS process is so damn long!
In other news we went to Pinks on Saturday. We went for dinner with our friend Paulette and her girlfriend first which was really lovely and we had yet another wonderful night. Paulette couldn't come to Pinks as she was off to Manchester early in the morning to the Sparkle Transgender Day of Remembrance and was giving the closing speech.
I was watching the ceremony live on Facebook at home in the kitchen on the Sunday and M walked in and started to watch it too. As Paulette made her speech we lit our candles and put them on our window sill. The whole ceremony was very emotional and Paulette's speech was great.
This morning Lucy has an appointment with the GP to update them on the GIC session yesterday. This is not with her usual GP but another within the practice who has also shown a lot of interest in Lucy.
All in all we have had a wonderful few days. Things are moving slowly but at least they are moving at last.