In 13th April 2016 we held an information session at the Chalmers Centre in conjunction with LGBT Health & Wellbeing and the National Gender Identity Clinical Network in Scotland (NGICNS). You can view the list of questions answered at the session here, and we have updated our frequently asked questions based on these.
What can I expect from my first appointment at the clinic?
Your first appointment will normally last about an hour and is about information gathering and asking questions. We will want to ask you about what interests you in our service, your history, your expectations, about you as a person, thoughts of your family and friends, and to gain a sense of what your gender means to you. We will help you learn more about our service and agree a way forward with you that matches your expectations.
When can I expect my first appointment?
Please see our current waiting times. We update this page every month.
Who will I see at the Gender Identity Clinic?
You may see any of our clinical staff during your treatment at the clinic. Our team currently comprises Dr Sarah Kennedy (Consultant Psychiatrist), David Parker (Community Mental Health Nurse) and Eliza Gaiga (Administrator). We have a specialist in training attached to the clinic and are supported by professionals in endocrinology and speech and language.
Are pre-existing mental health conditions a barrier to receiving treatment?
No, although we would ask that a serious mental health issue that could hinder the transition process is addressed first.
How do I access the service?
We ask you to do this through your GP. If this causes difficulties please contact us and we can discuss this with you.
How often would I be seen at the clinic?
We treat everyone on an individual basis so this varies. Follow up meetings are normally every 3 - 4 months.
How quickly can I start hormones?
As we treat everyone individually, this would form part of your agreed treatment plan at your first appointment and we encourage you to discuss this with us then. In general hormone treatment is started within 6 months from the first appointment.
Do I take hormones for the rest of my life?
Generally, yes. Starting hormones is an individual decision and lifelong. Once your treatment at the clinic is completed, your GP will continue to prescribe your hormones and arrange your follow up monitoring.
Occasionally people consider stopping hormones and this should always be discussed first with your GP or the clinic if you are still receiving treatment from us.
Do people identifying as non binary have to take hormones before surgery?
People identifying as non binary and accessing surgery generally do choose to start hormones, however every case is considered individually and non binary patients would not be required to do so. We have confirmed with our surgical teams that decisions will be taken on a case by case basis, and in all cases will require a supportive assessment from our clinic and the agreement of the appropriate surgeon.
What are the health requirements for surgery?
You will be required to maintain a BMI of under 30 and be a non smoker to undergo a general anaesthetic. A healthy weight is crucial to successful surgery. Psoriasis will be need to be managed as otherwise it will interfere with the skin healing process.
Hair removal is at the discretion of the individual surgeon and will be discussed at the preoperative consultation.
Is facial feminisation surgery available from the clinic?
We do not currently have funding for facial feminisation surgery within NHS Lothian, however we hope to resolve this later this year.
Where does gender reassignment surgery take place?
Surgery is conducted in specialist centres at Manchester, London and Brighton.
Can I have my travel expenses reimbursed?
NHS Lothian is able to support you with travel expenses associated with gender reassignment surgery. Please contact the clinic to discuss this before you travel.
If you are receiving certain benefits you may be entitled to help with your travel expenses to the clinic in Edinburgh. Please contact us for more details.
How can I get access to medical garments and prosthetics?
Unfortuntately we are unable to supply items such as packers and binders through the NHS.
LGBT Health & Wellbeing currently have examples of packers and binders that you can view at their Edinburgh offices by arrangement.
How can I access wigs?
We are currently unable to provide wigs through our clinic, however it is possible that this situation may change. NGICNS are discussing provision of wigs to transitioning patients with the Scottish Government. Please continue to ask us about wigs at your clinic appointment.
How do I access Speech and Language Therapy?
We will refer you to Moira Little who is a speech and laguage therapist within NHS Lothian. This service is funded by the NHS and receives excellent feedback from patients.
We are exploring the possibility of a speech and language group for patients at Chalmers. Please mention this to us if you are interested.
Is speech and language therapy available to everyone?
Yes. The service is person centred and accepts anyone who wishes to change their voice.
What psychological and emotional support is available?
A Transgender Support Programme is provided by LGBT Health & Wellbeing. This service is based in Edinburgh although it is open to all.
LGBT Health & Wellbeing offer a range of services including one to one based support, group workshops, social activities and regular events.