More Finns applying for gender reassignment treatment
Younger people applying for surgery
“At school my friends asked me if I’m a transvestite, because I dressed in men’s clothing. I said that I’m not. As I see it, a transvestite dresses in the clothing of the opposite sex now and then. I wanted to be a man all the time”, says Thomas, who is undergoing gender reassignment treatment.
Thomas, 18, is a trans man, who is in the process of fixing his gender from female to male.
Younger people than before have been applying to fix their gender.
“We are getting many referrals from people 18 years old and younger. The change has come in the past couple of years”, says psychiatrist Veronica Pimenoff at the research clinic for gender identity at the Helsinki University Central Hospital.
Similar developments have been seen at the Trans Clinic at the Tampere University Hospital, Finland’s other centre of transgender research and treatment.
Both clinics have had underage applicants. To change the personal identity number to correspond with the new gender a person undergoing the process needs to be 18 years old, but tests and hormone treatment are available already before that.
“The phenomenon was perhaps not understood among the young, and options for treatment were not available”, ponders Aino Mattila, a specialist doctor at the Tampere clinic.
Thomas asked for a referral to transgender tests when he was under 18, and the doctor sent him to mental health services, which he found frustrating.
He got to the transgender clinic in Tampere in May, after a five-month wait.
“On the first visit I felt that I was in the right place. It is quite different to talk to a person who knows what it’s all about”, Thomas says.
The number of people seeking gender reassignment has grown in recent years. Pimenoff says that treatment queues in Helsinki have stayed at a reasonable level, and first visits are possible in 3-6 weeks after the acceptance of a referral.
The situation is more difficult in Tampere. Mattila says that referrals to tests this year are double the number that came last year.
“The queues have grown longer and we are having great difficulties in getting people a first appointment within six months”, Mattila notes.
Those who are already undergoing gender reassignment treatment often have to wait for months for each of the various procedures involved.
Thomas hopes to get a diagnosis of being transgender by December. Waiting is not frustrating in his view.
“What is most important is to get to the clinic, and to have a foot in the door”, Thomas says.
Thomas will have to have a positive diagnosis before he can get hormone and surgery treatment, but he is trying to live in the role of the gender that he considers his own all the time.
“I wear men’s clothing and try to use men’s toilets, and to use my new name, even though it is not yet official”, he says.
Thomas cut his hair a year ago.
“Even when I had long hair my appearance was a source of wonder on the women’s side”, he notes.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Number of transgender cases has increased severalfold in recent years (13.11.2008)
Transgender vicar to resign over loss of parishioners´ confidence (17.3.2010)