It’s estimated that there are more than 13,500 transgender and non-binary adults currently on waiting lists for NHS gender identity clinics across England.
While NHS England has vowed to bring wait times down to 18 weeks, the LGBT Foundation says the average wait for a first appointment at a gender identity clinic is 18 months.
AJ Jones, 23, from Stockport, has been on a waiting list at the gender identity clinic for four months. He has been told he may have to wait up to five years before he gets an appointment.
He says waiting for an appointment, and not having a clear time frame in mind, is having a detrimental effect on his mental health and is stopping from living his life as the person he is.
“I’ve always known from an early age growing up that I wasn’t in the right body for me,” AJ tells the Manchester Evening News.
“I’d cringe at my birth name and would always get so embarrassed in the girl’s changing rooms.”
“I realised I wanted to transition when I was 16 but I wasn’t out at the time. My friend who’s a trans man knew straight away and talked me through everything. His family accepted me and it made me so much more comfortable to come out,” AJ says.
Fueled by his determination to transition, the retail worker has now decided to attempt to fund the private procedure through a crowdfunding campaign.
A major reason for the fundraiser is the bad dysphoria AJ has with his voice and how he looks.
“I cringe at my voice and my appearance,” he explains.
“It impacts my mental health as I feel I’m trapped in someone else’s body and this isn’t my life. Especially working in retail, I have to be vocal and each day it knocks my confidence.
“I feel like a ghost when I look at myself because I know it’s not me, I feel like I’m just floating and not existing.
“Hormone treatment will deepen my voice and stop me getting misgendered and help me grow facial hair and finally feel at ease with my body and become the man I am inside.”
While a private procedure would allow for a quicker appointment and possible surgery, it comes at a high cost.
Top surgery, surgery performed on the chest as part of gender reassignment, can cost up to £7,000 and there would also be the additional cost of testosterone and follow up appointments.
AJ says the stresses of the pandemic have increased his dysphoria, which has further fueled his determination to go through with the procedure as soon as possible.
“The pandemic has made it even harder to have any help or support when it comes to being trans,” he adds.
“It’s impacted my mental health which is why I want to go private.
“Services are tight as it is, but now the pandemic and lockdown is making all appointments online which means it’s difficult to get a feel of me and who I am.”
AJ launched the fundraiser at the end of October and has already received support from friends and family who have said how ‘proud’ they are of him for taking this step.
“My friends and family have been supportive and tried to help lots with the funding for hormones and top surgery,” he explains.
“However, I think an understanding of the trans community is something people should have more education on.
“I want people to know it’s not about wanting to or choosing to go through this, it’s simply I was born in the wrong gender.”
You can contribute towards AJ’s crowdfunder here.
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