6th November 2023
This opinion piece is the view of the interviewer / interviewee and in no way reflects the views of Liverpool Guild Student Media or Liverpool Guild of Students.
Throughout LGBT+ History Month, I’ve held conversations with my friends to discuss their feelings about the area of LGBT+ that represents them. Yesterday, I published my third conversation, the letter B. Now I am continuing with the letter T.
My fourth conversation of the week is with two students at University of Liverpool. Matt is a history student, who is the Gay Men’s rep for LGBT+ Soc and the History Soc President. David* is a first year medical student and future doctor. We had a lengthy conversation about transitioning, the effect that lack of representation on young trans people and emphasis on gender in sports.
*Name changed for privacy.
David*: I came out to my friends when I was twelve, then to my mum when I was fourteen. I started testosterone when I was eighteen but before that I was on blockers. With the gender clinic, my mum wouldn’t consent so I had to go through a social worker to get a referral because if you are under sixteen you can’t consent for yourself. Then I was on the waiting list for two and a half years, then I was seen by them for a year and a half. I got my diagnosis done and then they were like, “oh, you’re too old”. So now I’m on the waiting list for an adult clinic. It’s been a year.
David*: Definitely. I’m on a priority list because I was in the child clinic. It would usually be six months. Now they said it could be years. That’s just for your first appointment. They said it’s because their doctors and psychiatrists got redeployed in Covid. They didn’t compensate for that, so all the waiting lists are way behind. I managed to get testosterone through my GP though because I’d already had my diagnosis.
Coming out for me was horrifying though. It just went so badly. My friends, a lot of them were terrible. My family were terrible. I think then you find your own family. Sorry, I was just going back to your question before.
David*: I think they think it’s a choice and they just don’t understand it. My nan locked me in a car once with all these articles she’d printed off and was like, “you are ruining your life”. People think it’s horrible and this horrifying thing because it’s just so alien and they’ve only seen trans people in a negative way. Coming out is a lot but it’s something you have to go through. I hope in the future more people have better experiences. If you keep looking you find the people who accept you.
David*: I had a quick look at an article before and it was saying that in the 1960’s to the 1990’s, basically every trans person that was represented was as a psychopath. Not ideal. For example, in Psycho, he’s a cross-dressing woman, or Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs skins women so he can wear them. More recently, representation is Orange is the New Black and Pose but there’s no trans men there.
Matt: In Screw, there’s an episode with a trans man and I think the actor is trans too. It’s about a men’s prison and the guy is being bullied and they’re trying to figure out why and one of the officers looks at his health record and says, “oh my god he’s trans he must be being bullied because of that!” But he isn’t, and it’s about cis people jumping to a conclusion that it’s transphobia when it’s not, that was quite nice. I didn’t manage to watch the whole episode because one of the scenes, when they tell the other officers, one of them is very transphobic and I didn’t want to hear that first thing on a Monday.
David*: I think that’s a problem with LGBT representation as a whole. They can’t just portray nice happy stories about trans people. It needs to include abuse or toxic reactions.
Matt: Yeah, we have to be inspiring and powerful and brave! It’s like no… we’re really not.
David*: There needs to be representation where they’re trans and that’s it. It’s problematic that there’s a lack of representation and what there is, it’s just depressing. As a young trans kid, you want to see people just living their life and see people like you because it feels quite isolating if you don’t because it’s like, “well, that’s not normal then”.
David*: That’s quite good that they are young and also that it was quite early on if it was around 2009. I think there was a show called Butterfly, it had a trans kid in school. That was a bit horrifying though because that included them self-harming and not being able to get blockers and showing the issues with trans healthcare.
David*: We haven’t yet, no. I don’t know if they do or not, but they should. I’ve noticed in Med School that it’s not very accepting which is quite problematic because these are the people who are meant to be treating you. We have a society called Queer Medics and there’s a few people in that. The culture of medical school isn’t very friendly, you have people going around saying, “that’s so gay”, especially with prostate exams and they are literally the doctors of the future. You can’t be having doctors with those beliefs so the education needs to be there.
Matt: The past few years in LGBT Soc they’ve done talks, like “here’s what you need to do”.
David*: We did do practice exams with an LGBT patient to try and get people more exposed but that’s completely optional, so probably people don’t care. I feel like the Medical School need to have more diversity and pressure on having an LBGT friendly culture because it’s quite dangerous and a bit too much power for someone with those views.
Matt: Someone I know is a med student. They had an essay and didn’t know what to base it on and said, “one of them was about trans patients and now you’ve come out to me, maybe I’ll do that.” I thought, “what, so it took knowing me for you to be interested?”
David*: I know with my experiences with GPs, they’ve been terrible because they’ve had no training at all. They’ll just admit to you, “I’ve got no idea”. If I went with a broke arm they wouldn’t be like, “not my area of specialty, sorry”.
Matt: If I have to go to a GP for something to do with my transition, I tend to go to my trans friends and ask them which GP is good for it so I don’t get a random person. One of them butchered my referral to the gender clinic.
David*: I went the other day for the repeat prescription of my hormone blockers and they set me up an appointment with the sexual health nurse because they thought I wanted contraception! There’s a lot of problems that are just administration and bad systems. I feel like if people did see trans people more in the media they might think a bit more because they just don’t see it in their daily lives.
David*: I agree, you shouldn’t need to watch trans-specific shows, they should just be there. At the minute, it’s just kind of ignored. You need to listen to the people’s views within a group but as a person in a marginalised community, not everyone’s views are the same. It’s hard to please everybody but trying to do the right thing and not make people feel shit is probably the best approach!
David*: Give us some representation without crisis. There needs to be more of that positive representation. It doesn’t really give you any confidence to come out.
Matt: Cis people have happy and sad storylines. Why can’t we have both? People jump on it being sad and pitying us and making us inspirational figures. I like that because yeah, sometimes it can be hard. Somedays though I’m really happy and proud of who I am and I want to watch something happy, where there is just a trans man going on, living his life. Cis people get that. A nice balance of both would be good, don’t take away the struggle but don’t make it all that we have.
David*: We are in 2022, get a move on! The government don’t promote rights very well.
David*: Let’s just take away some rights, that will help! It’s just a massive worldwide problem. People just need to treat people nicely. Think back to when you’re five and your mum says that if you can’t say anything nice, you just shouldn’t say anything at all. That’s why I think, if we are in an educational setting, we should have staff promoting that and teaching equality. Even just look it up, you know.
David*: True, true. Is there anything else to discuss for the article?
David*: Sport is great. I did cross country running for like seven years. Loved it. Good for your fitness, good for your mental health. The uni culture of sport is like a breeding ground for sexual harassment and homophobia. The idea of me signing up to rugby as a trans gay man is terrifying. I feel like there is such a culture of toxic masculinity, it’s horrifying. The uni at the moment aren’t seeming to be promoting any mixed activities or LGBT-friendly sport.
Matt: I used to play competitive netball. When I came out I was like, I missed my chance to get back into it because now they won’t let me. People suggested basketball as an alternative and it’s like yeah but that isn’t netball. It’s a women’s sport, but why is it? I thought about joining gymnastics and I went to their stall and I asked if there’s many men on the team and they said there’s enough for a male changing room and I thought, well the whole uniform and stuff, there’s an assumption that everyone on the team will be cis. I don’t really want to wear something tight fitting.
David*: The Guild have done pretty well with like unisex toilets but that could roll over to changing rooms too. Sports teams could be like, “LGBT people, come on down!” Even if they are inclusive, they don’t promote that at all.
Matt: They put sanitary products in the mens and that’s great but they didn’t add any sanitary bins, so if you were going to change a pad or something you’d have to go all past the urinals.
David*: It’s the culture they promote. AU nights look like a weird vibe.
David*: My friend had that. They pushed her over and she scraped all her face. The culture is so weird.
David*: It should just be more accessible. Stuff should be fun, not scary, maybe more mixed teams.
David*: I feel like there should be a cubicle option. Even just curtains, it probably wouldn’t cost that much.
Matt: There’s such a culture where even as a cis man, you should just be comfortable in the changing rooms. I don’t know how to describe it, but you should be very comfortable in your own skin and it’s a scary thing. Even before I came out, it’s like why are we expected just to be okay even with the same gender, with people looking at us?
Matt: It’s so weird because we are taught about boundaries and that if an adult commented on anything, you can say no and they shouldn’t be doing it. It’s not the same with kids. Then you’re just told to accept it.
David*: Exactly, let people live their lives and don’t judge them.
Cover Image by Crystal Sings via Canva