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Transhealth Update

Dr. Richard Curtis

 
GENDYS JOURNAL

Issue 37
Spring 2007

 
It is now a year since I took over the care of Russell Reid's clients. What a year it has been! My PA Tessa and I have worked hard to create a trans friendly environment with a range of services specific to the needs of trans people.

The initial part of the year was spent establishing the premises in Wimpole Street and networking with trans support organisations. The consulting rooms get good feedback from clients and I believe provide a comfortable environment for them. I have been very proactive in helping to advertise support groups and organisations at the premises and the clients appreciate the collection of trans specific information.

My counsellor, Sharon Fillingham who is a very experienced gender and psychosexual counsellor, has received much good feedback from the clients and she has helped them to work through their areas of concern.

Similarly, the voice coaches, Christella Antoni (for MTF clients) and John Tucker (for FTM clients) have helped significantly improve the confidence of clients and they are probably the most experienced experts in their respective fields.

I am passionate about moving the clinic into the 21st Century and wish to have a high degree of client satisfaction with their care. There are many plans in the pipeline for 2007.

In order to keep abreast with the medical side of things, I plan to attend conferences in Sydney, Chicago, Norfolk and London. Later this year, I intend to start the ball rolling with some much needed research. With a data base of 3000 patients, I am in a good position to further the knowledgebase of trans health care. At present, I am working with the University of East London on a project which is investigating gender differences in hearing and looking at where trans people fit along this spectrum. The results to date are very interesting and the hearing expert involved with the study is very excited about the findings.

In January 2007, many new services were launched which I believe will benefit the clients greatly. The most popular of these is likely to be hair removal. I have purchased an Ellipse I2PL machine, which treats all hair types on all skin colours. Grey, white or blonde hair can be treated with a chemical to render it visible to the light source. The success of which is very co-dependent on the skill of the machine operator and the diligence of the client in applying the solutions. Alongside this, my beauty therapist, Joanne Wallingford is an experienced electrolysist, allowing clients to access a seamless hair removal service, including genital work.

I have a sincere wish to help my clients feel as good about themselves as possible, by looking good and increasing their passability where this is a concern. To this end I have learned to administer Botox and dermal fillers. This is potentially suitable for all clients (subject to a questionnaire) but particularly good for MTF people where softening of wrinkles, lines and dimples will give a younger more feminine look. Also, the IPL machine can help correct the ravages of age and sun damage by reducing uneven brown pigmentation and redness of the complexion, including removing facial thread veins. Probably more particularly for FTM people, the machine also treats active acne of all areas. Staying with skin care, MTF people are less likely to have paid much attention to their skin in the past. I see here scope for high strength prescription skin care.

To round off the aesthetic package, Joanne is able to provide semi permanent make-up to the lips, eyes and brows to give a feminine look 24/7. Semi permanent make-up can also be used to create an areola/nipple complex where this has been lost during bilateral mastectomy. Many FTM people have long scars across their chest which can be camouflaged by the same method.

In reverse, a similar procedure can be used to remove tattoos. The addition of a chemical which extrudes the ink to the surface can be used to remove tattoos of all colours. The process is quick, less painful than laser and is similar to having the tattoo done in the first place. In time, I am hoping to offer chemical peels which essentially renew the skin with a fresher, more youthful appearance.

One service particularly close to my heart is the provision of trans specific sexual health advice, testing and treatment. Whilst I would certainly advocate patients using their local sexual health clinic, I am aware that many are reluctant to do so. To be fair, some sexual health clinics outside of the big cities will not be as well informed as I on trans anatomy, sexual health risks and the appropriate screening needed. I can provide a confidential service, although at times, it may be pertinent to receive treatment under the NHS. Treatments for HIV and Hepatitis C in particular would be extremely expensive to conduct privately. However, I am happy to liaise/refer on to an NHS provider if this is necessary.

As you can see, I am committed to improving the provision of care to trans people across all aspects of transition, including helping to ease the waiting times for treatment. In this regard, many PCTs have enquired about commissioning services through the London Gender Clinic and several already do so. This is an evolving area. Clients can always try to obtain funding from their PCT, although the current climate means it may take some persistence on their behalf to achieve the sign off. I am happy to correspond with PCTs to give information, although most of the relevant information is on the website.

Currently, the waiting time for a new consultation is around one month.

In short, it has been an extremely busy, stressful year but one that I hope will serve the community well in years to come. I continue to work towards a "one stop trans shop" for gender services.

London Gender Clinic 3rd Floor (North) 25 Wimpole Street London W1G 8GL Tel: 020 7631 3164

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