International Transgender Day of Visibility: Mx Han J A Gillies blog

Hello, my name is Mx Han J A Gillies. I am the Admin and Clerical Team Lead for Radiology at NNUH and I am transgender.

For those of you who may not know what “Mx” is or how to pronounce it, Mx is pronounced Muks or Miks and it is a legally recognised gender neutral title. Sadly, many companies and places of work still do not have this option on their applications and documentation. Luckily for me however, the NHS is not one of them.

I went to my GP in the summer of 2017 and asked to be referred to a gender identity clinic. Despite my GP supporting me and putting in the request, I only started hormones in November 2020. It is an incredibly slow process and this has had a negative impact on my mental health. The adrenaline and excitement of coming out as transgender and the joy of being accepted in the work place begins to wear away after a while. It’s hard to keep believing in yourself when you have to wait months and months for an appointment with a psychologist who then has to ask you about your childhood, sexual preferences, relationship with your body, history of mental health and whether or not you have been sexually abused in the past – to name just a few of the personal details you have to reveal in 45 minutes.

All the while you are thinking “I hope they think I’m trans enough” and then left panicked when they scratch their chin and make a note of the fact you have no intention of changing your medical records to say “male” despite them making the presumption that you have.

At his point I thought I had failed the test.

As I mentioned previously, I feel lucky to work in an environment where I am not only acknowledged but also accepted and supported. I have noticed more staff have started to add their pronouns to their email signatures and this is fantastic. It’s such a simple thing but it sends a message to all, that pronouns need to be considered and not presumed.

Sadly, after three and a half years I still get referred to as she/her. Even by people who know me. After a while you lose the energy to correct people and you feel as if you are making a song and dance about something insignificant. It’s not insignificant. It’s a kick in the teeth and a constant reminder that people see you as different to who you really are.

So please, if you’re reading this, consider adding your pronouns to your email signature.

At the time of writing this, I have been on testosterone for just over four months and despite the fact that this is what I have wanted for so long, it isn’t easy. Puberty wasn’t much fun the first time around but now I have to do it whilst also holding down my first job in a management role. This was made especially hard by the fact that the first two months of testosterone came with a heavy dose of insomnia.

My managers have been very supportive of the fact that I am going through a fairly trying time but it’s hard to feel you have a right to ask for support when Covid-19 has left so many departments exhausted, stressed and under staffed.

Also, it’s hard to ask for support when you are changing so much and not really knowing what support you require. It’s even harder to admit you’re struggling with the changes you’re experiencing when it’s all you’ve wanted for so long.

There is a still a very long wait ahead of me on my journey as I have to be signed off for surgery before I’m even put on a very long waiting list and that won’t happen for several months yet.

However, I know that I can go to my managers and ask them for the support I require. Radiology is a big department but it also has a big heart. I am proud to be part of it.