Charlie Craggs: As a transgender female I shouldn't be afraid to be myself

Transgender campaigner Charlie Craggs writes for ITV News, revealing her views on her ongoing struggle to get the treatment she needs from the NHS.

It comes amid reports that the UK has a "long way to go" to ensure equality for transgender people.

By Charlie Craggs

My name’s Charlie, and I’m transgender.

I’ve known I was trans for as long as I can remember - before I can remember even. My mum remembers me telling her further back than my own memory goes. But although I’ve always really known I was transgender, I only accepted myself as a transgender recently.

I fought my feelings for years because I knew that the only thing harder than not being the real me, would be being the real me, but it got to the point where everyday I would wake up wishing I was dead.

I knew that if I didn’t change my life, I would take my life; so I did what I should have done years ago and booked an appointment with my GP.

When it came to my appointment, I was shocked to find that my GP didn’t know what transgender meant.

I was even more shocked with the way he treated me once I explained what it meant.

After I told him he moved away from me as if I had a contagious disease, looked at me in disgust and told me there is nothing him nor the NHS can do to help me and he told me to leave.

I later found out that he didn’t even put on my record that I had been to see him about the issue.

I had to see two more GP’s to finally find someone competent and willing to help me.

Even then I had to tell them what the next step was because they didn’t know how to deal with a trans patient.

It then took about two years from that appointment to even get an appointment with the gender clinic to simply discuss medically transitioning.

Two more years of my life I had to continue living in my prison of a male body; two more years of intense depression and suicidal thoughts. Two more years of my life Ill never get back.

Often you see tabloid newspapers sensationalise our stories and lives, painting a picture to the public that makes it seem like the NHS is just handing out vaginas on the taxpayers money to trans people in the street.

But it took me almost two years to even get an appointment to simply begin discussing transitioning. The dream of surgery is still years away for me.

People seem to think that because Caitlyn Jenner was named Glamour’s woman of the year it means everything’s cool now - it’s not.

Quite the opposite, in fact - transphobic hate crime is increasing rapidly here in the UK, and the number of trans people being murdered is going up every year.

As well as this, we face so many hurdles in our everyday lives that people who aren’t trans take for granted - things like using public transport or public toilets. Being attacked (be it verbally, physically or sexually) is part of our every day life experience as a trans people, so though we’ve come a long way as a society over the past few years, we still have so far to go.

Vanity Fair covers are great, but all we really want is to be treated like normal people; like you.

It’s really not too much to ask for. I shouldn’t be scared to go to my GP, I shouldn’t be scared to leave my house and I shouldn’t be scared to be me.