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The Laurels Gender Identity Clinic Visit 1, with Transgender Model & Artist Sophie Lawson
ORIGINALLY POSTED 23rd OCTOBER 2014

Future me here *waves* It’s been over 6 years now since my first visit to The Laurels Gender Identity Clinic; I remember it like it was yesterday, yet at the same time It feels like a million years ago. But to think I’m now living as Sophie full time, and it all started with past self simply saying yes to attending this visit ...

*end of future me*

October the 23rd 2014 was a special, but nervous day for me. It was my first visit to a gender clinic – The Laurels Gender Clinic in Exeter. At the age of 34 I had never been face to face with professionals who deal with gender issues, so I didn’t know what to expect. Earlier in the year I had spent a few months with a lovely counselor named Heather who helped me so much. At the time I was determined to start facing my social anxiety, and with the help of Heather I faced my demons like never before. I had a mini breakdown and cried so much, sobbing my eyes out in a way I never knew possible … without seeing Heather each week during that time, I know I wouldn’t have made it. I would have given up and tried to pretend yet again that I wasn’t transgender.

During that time with Heather, I would often go and sit on the edge of the cliffs near by looking out to the ocean at night, listening to the waves hitting the rocks, looking to the stars and just trying to make sense of it all. I was determined to crack this puzzle inside my mind. Heather mentioned about a gender clinic in Exeter called The Laurels, and after a few weeks of umming and ahhhing, I finally went to my Doctor and asked if I could be referred to the clinic. I was, but for months I heard nothing, in fact, I sort of wrote it off as maybe it wasn’t meant to be … secretly I was scared to go anyways lol

Then, within days of quitting my job of 12 years, a letter plopped through my door from the gender clinic inviting me to an initial assessment on the 23rd of October.. I was scared but excited; excited that I was given this opportunity, but scared because I knew this was about to open the Transgender can of worms big time.

I said yes. The clinic is miles away, an hours train ride away from Plymouth, but I had my sketch book with me :) I got there early, but got lost for about 20 minutes, a delivery van driver pointed me in the right direction, and then I finally sat outside on a bench and sketched for 20 minutes or so. I then made my way to the clinic and rang the bell, they let me in but I got lost again lol The arrow for the Laurels was pointing into the lift and so I went into the lift and hit the ground floor button, I was in the lift for about 2 minutes before I realised I was already on the ground floor …. so that’s why the lift wasn’t moving lol

I opened the doors and looked at the sign, it was pointing into the lift so I got back in the lift and thought am I going crazy? I came out and then a lady walked past and she guided me to the reception, it was hidden around the corner. I went in and there was a nice vibe in the place, I was nervous, but you could just feel it was going to be ok. I sat with some ladies, I think they were family members to their Transgender daughter, then the lady who was seeing me came out and off we went for a chat! I felt really comfortable talking to her right away and she asked me questions about my childhood dealing with being Transgender, we also said about how we should set up a website for Transgender people to find girlfriends who don’t mind their boyfriends being Trans :) Such a good idea, we deserve love too lol

We spoke about Anxiety, she said many Transgender people suffer from Anxiety, and I think that’s when I started to realise that I would only get over anxiety once I fully dealt with my Transgender issues. That might seem obvious now, but I needed to hear that from her to put 2 and 2 together! I also explained how I have always been confused as to if I am male or female as I have never really felt like either, I feel more female than male in my soul, and I’m pretty sure when I leave this universe I will be leaving as a female spirit but then I do still like some of being male.

She asked if I had ever looked into non-binary, I said I hadn’t even heard of it, I had heard of genderfluid, whereby you sometimes feel female, sometimes male, or sometimes both or neither. I had ended up thinking that explains me best, and non-binary appears to be in the same area as genderfluid. When she said that though, something started to click inside of me. I thought to myself, maybe that’s why I’ve struggled so much trying to work out if I am male or female all these years. I was trying to stick myself into either being male or female, and it just wasn’t going to ever work because I am neither and both, I really starting to feel something changing inside when she talked about non-binary.

It was just nice to know that I’m not the only one who is in this place of trying to make sense of my gender. It was a really interesting day, the hour seemed to fly by, we also spoke about my old cat Kes, and my love for cats. In fact, My Female Name is Sophie after my lil childhood pussy cat friend Sophie! It turns out she loves cats as much as me, I left there wishing and hoping we will be friends, because she seems like the nicest person in the world!

I go back in January 2015, after the Christmas break, and I really can’t wait. It’s so nice to be around people who know where I’m coming from; It’s going to be interesting to see where these visits lead.

Visit two took place on 8th January 2015 and was the ‘connecting with my gender therapist’ visit

IF YOU DON’T TAKE THAT FIRST STEP, A PATH WON’T OPEN FOR YOU

Satoru Fujinuma