A less negative Trans NHS experience

I have been asked to pass this on anonymously about experiences with the NHS-run Havens service in Paddington, largely to reassure people that they know what they’re doing if they find themselves in the unfortunate position of needing their services. I won’t say it sounds like a positive experience because of the reasons one might go there in the first place, but it is at least not negative.

The content below deals with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Some readers may find this triggering. The text below is precisely as I received it and has not been edited or censored in any way.

I’m a trans man. I’ve been on testosterone over a year, pass completely, but have not had surgery.

I’ve written this account and asked for it to be shared anonymously, about my experiences at the Haven Paddington. For people who don’t know, the Havens are three clinics in London that deal with the aftermath of rape and sexual assault, and help collect forensic evidence. I was seen at the Haven Paddington the day after Boxing Day. This was about 80 hours after the rape that required it. I didn’t do anything about reporting it until Boxing Day, when I went to our local hospital with two friends. There, I was given a hep B jab, no PEP (it was high risk for HIV transmission) or morning after pill due to other medical conditions that precluded me taking them. They gave me a phone number for the Havens, who told me to dial the non-emergency police number. Eventually, about 10pm, the police arrived and wrote down exactly what happened. About midnight I was sent home, awaiting a phone call from the Met Police sexual offenses team.

They rang and it was arranged that I’d be phoned on the Monday morning to go to the Haven Paddington. They were willing to take me there and back. They came to collect me, and one friend, and we headed there. I was pretty terrified, and when we got there, I went outside to smoke straight away. The idea of being what felt like violated again so soon after the original rape was unbearably painful, and the fact that they would need to do transvaginal and cervical swabs terrified me – I have a lot of dysphoria, and also following the rape, I really didn’t want to.

The first thing I had to do was paperwork. The first form had a sex box, and the options were []male or [] female. I chose to check male. The second form had gender, and if I recall correctly it was []male []female []trans male []trans female []other []prefer not to say. I chose male again. I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing, wondering what boxes they’d expect me to check, but was reassured that I’d marked the correct boxes if that was how I identified.

I then had to go through a check box form of things that had happened to me, and read over the initial statement I’d given the police. I made a couple of changes to that, and the doctor noted the language I was using, and used that when we went over the form, avoiding saying words like “breasts” or “vagina”. This was very reassuring, she clearly understood my gender identity. It had been explained by the police that I was a trans man, they knew from the initial statement, and I didn’t have to, she understood what that meant, how to be sensitive with words, and made a point of using male pronouns for me.

The examination was difficult. She gave me a gown, which she assured me was unisex, and I had to expose various parts of my body while she noted down marks. I couldn’t expose my chest, and she was fine with that, let me get away with keeping that covered, though it was upsetting when I got home and showered to see the bruising there, which would have been good evidence. They did take a swab there however, and when taking it, used the word “chest”, rather than “breasts”, which reassured me.
I then had to have an internal exam. For all of this, my friend was the other side of the curtain, I trusted him more than them to stop them if I needed to. The internal exam was painful, my vaginal walls were quite torn up and damaged, and I was having a lot of flashbacks and panicking, but they continued and stopped as and when I asked them to, and offered me a shower afterwards, but understood when I said I just wanted clothes.

At the end of my five hour shift there, they sent me for a psych assessment (which I felt was pointless, ultimately was, but I was offered the option of going voluntarily or being dragged), but this isn’t a necessary part of the process. Before I left, I was given the “adult male” information pack, and offered the “adult female” one as well if I wanted, which I didn’t.

I know the trans bits in here sound small, but having people use words I could handle, and the correct pronouns, made something that horrible and close to unbearable surviveable, and there wasn’t anything more they could have done. I wrote this to both alert people as to what might happen, and also reassure people that my experience, as a trans man, was as good as it could have been.

1 comment

  1. I’m so sorry that the person in this post had to go through this horrible experience. I can only imagine how painful it is, on multiple levels. How wonderful that the police and the clinic staff handled him so well.

    A lot of trans people are very mistrusting of the police and the medical community (I know that my experiences have left me that way) and it’s immensely valuable to share the good experiences interacting with them, too. First of all, there are the good ones out there and secondly, things are changing for the better in some areas and these changes need to be shown.

    I can only send my heartfelt wishes that the subject of your post finds his way through this terrible event with the least possible long-term trauma and to thank him for sharing his story so that other trans people can see that the police and the medical community can treat us properly.

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