Last weekend saw some of the leading figures in the world of transgender healthcare come together in Amsterdam for the 2016 WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) symposium.
The event was well attended - double the expectations of the organisers - and the venue was amazing, it was lovely to be in the 'partially sunny' Amsterdam, a vibrant and accepting city.
The array of specialists in attendance was highly impressive. Some of the symposia in which I had the privilege to participate really inspired me and from the hoots and cheers of the audience it was clear that this was a sentiment shared by my colleagues.
As experts from around the world shared their experiences it was clear just how much support there is out there for the trans community.
The wide array of posters on display demonstrated the passion, determination and efforts being made to challenge and address many of the issues currently being faced. There were some surgical pictures that could make your toes curl, but it was amazing to see the clever techniques being used to correct the 'birth defects' experienced by some trans people.
A highlight of the symposium was talking and listening to some colleagues specialising in the social transitioning of children. The short film entitled 'How to be a Girl' certainly gave me food for thought and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand how it feels to be a child suffering with gender identity disorder.
One argument stayed with me: 'Mummy, I don't want to be a boy who is allowed to wear pink, I don't want to be a girl, I don't want to change into a girl - I AM a girl.'
I was designated the Tolhuis neighbour room for my presentation, and it was
pouring with rain. I felt sure nobody would brave the walk to hear me describe how I had set up an online gender clinic to reach out to those people who needed help. I was wrong. The seats were filled and I thank all of you who listened so intently and clapped so loudly.
Not everyone has welcomed me into this field, and some have tried very hard to get me out as quickly as possible. But with the support of my patients, the wonderful people working extremely hard to educate and research and improve care for young and old, and with some grim determination for what is right, I will continue my work and be proud to be part of such an evolving and improving specialty. I very much look forward to the next phase of demystifying trans care.
I would like to send a huge congratulations to Bernard and Terry of GIRES for winning the Harry Benjamin Award for Education - very well deserved.