'Trans community is crying out for help' - Woman tells how NHS failed her

Writing for ITV News, Ceridwen Louvaine - also known as Lou - tells how she had to buy hormones online and leave university after being let down by NHS gender reassignment programmes.

By Ceridwen Louvaine

When I was living at home I told my mother that I had always felt like I was different, like I might be transgender, but due to circumstances I didn't tell her or anyone until I really had awareness of what being transgender was.

I didn't know it was possible to fit the gender that I felt on the inside.

Early in 2014 my mum and I went to visit our local GP. I told him about my feelings and asked what support might be on offer.

I was discouraged and turned away as I was told that there was no support or any practitioners in that area who dealt with gender transitioning.

That really made me fearful about the whole thing as even a doctor didn't know how to help me, so I decided to wait until I moved to Manchester for university.

I knew Manchester was a positive place for people that fall under the LGBT criteria and that people are more open minded to that way of living.

After finding myself a part-time job to be able to afford university and to help me save up for hair removal treatment, I decided to again try and take that leap of faith with my new GP. I told her how I have always felt, and that I have felt discouraged in the past but that now I am ready to transition.

Ceridwen bought hormones online to self-transition. Credit: ITV News

Luckily this GP was aware of transgender men and women and had worked with many cases in the past, and forwarded a letter of recommendation that I be seen by my nearest gender clinic.

She did tell me that I could be waiting a year, maybe even two, just to get that first appointment to start the process. After being put on the waiting list I eventually received my letter telling me I would be seen in 2015/16 and that they only allow 160 people to be seen within that time period.

I contacted them after six months of no contact - not even to see how I was doing. Being on the waiting list was surreal, like it never happened and they had forgot about me all over again. So I enquired to see if there was any date that I would be seen but they were unsure as the list was long and that I was just told again 2015/2016.

I am still waiting, but I will be contacting them again soon as I have changed my lifestyle and because I have been waiting so long I decided to buy hormones online, without any support or knowledge.

I have now had to quit university because of money and because I've had no medical support with how I am feeling and what I want to do. It's very frustrating as before I started taking the hormones I had a stable job, I was almost one year away finishing my degree and had a good network of friends.

Ceridwen said she has been inspired by her experience to help others. Credit: ITV News

Since my self-transition (by taking the hormones bought online) took place I have become very introverted and selfish - because that is how people have treated me that I have put myself first.

But it makes me want to help more now - to raise more awareness online. I have been contacted by many to offer advice and support of what they can do and with how they are feeling, showing them any trans male/female can do as I have. I want to show other trans people that there is hope and possibility even when their is so little support out there.

The trans community is crying out for help, their situations worsened by depression, suicide attempts, by being rejected by family and friends, the community disregard them as people, jobs are hard to come by so many resort to prostitution to afford the expenses of surgery on top of hormones which many buy themselves. GPs need to be given more information and training.

One of my friends was waiting four years to be seen for counselling.

There are so many cries for help but I just feel that the Government and doctors don't or can't care because money is a concern.

There are layers of problems with the NHS and it is sad that I have had to leave my final year of university as all my money has gone out on hormones which I buy abroad and I now need to start earning money to afford plastic surgery.

The views in this blog are not necessarily those of ITV News