My name is Gage (they/them), and I am a 24 year old non-binary trans masculine person. I have autism, a cyclic mood disorder, and autoimmune Grave’s disease. I work as a research scientist and play lead guitar in a band in my spare time.
Content warning: dysphoria
The first barrier I faced being trans was over my use of contraceptives to suppress my periods. I had been doing this for years, but during a regular check-up a nurse decided that, due to my health issues, I was too high risk to take the oestrogen-based pill. I was upset and tried to explain that I couldn’t deal with having periods and being on a less reliable birth control pill, but she did not seem to understand. I was told as I was gay, I did not need to be concerned about birth control, that my issues with periods were likely due to past trauma or autism, and that I shouldn’t want to compromise my health. I was unable to properly explain my situation. When I left, she said I could come back in 6 months and we could reassess if I was still struggling. I was scared and upset that I might have to experience 6 months of regular periods and was hurt that she couldn’t understand how traumatic that was.
After this experience, I changed doctors’ surgeries and went in to ask for the contraceptive implant instead, as I had heard it could work for period suppression. This worked for a year before I had another period, and I was scared when I asked for help that I wouldn’t be taken seriously again. However, when I visited the doctor I made sure to communicate from the start how traumatic the situation was for a transgender person. The doctor was understanding and agreed to help me find a combination of contraceptives that were safe for my body but also suppressed my periods. Being open from the start of the appointment about the emotional side of my request made it easier for me to communicate, something that can be hard being autistic, instead of trying to find the right words to say after I was already upset.
Being open also helped with a barrier that I was expecting to face, but did not turn out to be an issue. As I have a history of severe mental health issues, I was concerned that when I spoke to the GIC they would turn me down or request that I attend a second appointment for another opinion. However, I was honest about my past, as well as the steps I had taken to overcome it. I was also clear about what I was doing currently to maintain my mental health, and my plans for what I would do if it was ever a problem again (such as visiting a therapist and reaching out to my support network). I believe showing the doctors that I was aware and proactive about any issues, both physically and mentally, lead to an easy referral for hormones.
Overall, I am glad I was able to navigate difficult situations in which mental health, physical health and being transgender were interplaying by being confident to share my issues and what I needed early on in my interactions with doctors. Showing I was self-aware about the barriers I might face and that I had taken steps to try and resolve things as much as I could made the doctors much more cooperative and allowed me to progress in my transition.