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by Dr Sam Hall
5 August 2022

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Feeling visible for the first time – my trans story

GP Dr Sam Hall shares his journey of coming out as a trans man while working in the NHS and the moment he felt visible for the first time

Becoming a GP after a 15-year career as a hospital consultant was a leap of faith. One I made in both desperation and hope.

Like many trans people, the process of coming out left me feeling ashamed. That I couldn’t just get on with my life as a woman, that I was putting my family and friends through a bewildering sequence of events they could barely understand, and that I felt so much more comfortable, more… me, as a result of my transition.

My hospital colleagues did not know what to say to me, and the upshot of this was a kind of ostracism. I felt alienated and unwanted.

People didn’t speak to me in the coffee room or corridor. The working day became a thing of dread as silence greeted me everywhere I turned.

I had been an obstetric anaesthetist for 15 years, and sought solace in my clinical work, looking after those needing my services during labour and delivery. This was work I loved and was good at. I had had three children myself, all born by emergency Caesarian section, so I knew the lie of the land intimately and shared this knowledge with my patients.

A few months after I told my colleagues about my decision to transition, I was suddenly told I was ‘no longer needed’ to provide obstetric anaesthetic services. There had been ‘complaints’ about me. I didn’t understand what was happening, and as my job satisfaction suffered, I felt my career slipping through my fingers.

Ten years later, when as a GP a baseless safeguarding alert was raised against me involving a child, I finally understood the full extent of the prejudice I faced. Like gay men, having to deal with Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which stated that local authorities and schools could not ‘promote homosexuality’, I was seen as a risk to children. Newborn babies were regarded as unsafe in my presence.

The impact of these veiled judgements had a devastating effect on my mental health. I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for years, and in a large part I attribute this to those unspoken assumptions that follow all transgender people, but especially, and especially wrongly, trans women.

This didn’t deter me from moving forward with my transition though.  Far from it. I was getting better, and I was not prepared to let that go. Each change I made – starting with what we call a social transition (the change of name/identity) and moving on to medical transition in incremental stages resulted in a gradual loss of shame, and improvement in my self-esteem and wellbeing.

As I began to masculinise, people stopped misgendering me (mistaking me for a woman), and slowly, over the next few years, it stopped altogether. Hearing or reading about myself being referred to with male pronouns gave me such an enormous sense of relief.

Now everyone I encountered could ‘see’ me. As I commenced my GP training, I felt visible for the first time in my life.

Read more of Dr Sam Hall’s story of going from hospital consultant to GP here.

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