To mark Pride Month and increase understanding of trans peoples’ experiences, GP Dr Sam Hall shares his journey of coming out as a trans man while working in the NHS
In 2015, I left my role as a hospital consultant to retrain as a GP. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my career, even though I’m no stranger to undertaking big life changes.
I was AFAB (assigned female at birth) but struggled desperately with my assigned gender from early childhood. It took a full-scale breakdown, the first of several, for me to transition to living as male. Of course, it’s one thing to make the decision, but quite another to actually put it into action.
But a broken marriage and three children later, I finally made the leap. Although it was tough, it was preferable to the other leap that I’d often been tempted to make – the one off the pier, or the train platform. Like many trans and queer people before me, I recognised that the way out of my predicament was to ‘come out’. So I did.
At the time, I was working as a hospital consultant and I realise now that I was naive in how I expected my colleagues to respond. I had no concept of transphobia within the medical profession and it came as a shock to find myself ostracised and ridiculed. I was shown hate in ways that are unimaginable, and it has taken me years to understand their reasons.
The discrimination was awful, but I had set my path. I knew I was doing the right thing for myself and for my young family, and I never regretted my choice. To put it simply: to transition meant to choose life.
All the same, the experiences with my consultant colleagues had left me wounded. Although I had a few allies, I could not reach a place of peace and remain among them. It became clear that something had to change. My life had changed beyond recognition, and the choices I had made whilst living as a woman were no longer right for me. My own lived experience of the dire state of trans-affirming healthcare in the UK helped point me in a new direction – general practice.
Just as I set my course to masculinising, so I set my sights on becoming a GP. My two journeys – from living as a woman to living as a man and from consultant to GP – were intertwined. I had learned about the right treatment for gender incongruence through my own pain and I wanted to help other individuals as well as support understanding within the health service.
My experience of starting hormones was sublime. It’s what my patients call ‘gender euphoria’ – an unmistakable feeling of complete relief that is truly life-changing. The first moment I took testosterone, I knew I had made the right decision. I had felt ashamed of needing to do this, but my flesh was crying out for those hormones and, when I took them, my brain felt rested for the first time in years.
If a patient is being crippled by gender incongruence then hormones are the right treatment. The physical changes are, by comparison, far less important in the end. As I say to my patients, what matters is that the ‘hormone soup’ is right. When you achieve that, you reinstate functionality and good mental health. Best of all, you restore hope.
I experienced that for myself. I now have hope that I can live my life openly as a trans person and learn to be proud rather than ashamed. After all, there is nothing wrong with me. I am just a trans GP.
Dr Sam Hall is a GP partner in Brighton
Read more of Dr Hall’s blogs:
Feeling visible for the first time – my trans story