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Sarah, The Bringer of Tea - Drugs and Divorce
22nd December, 2008
08:55 pm

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Drugs and Divorce
Today was rather busy. The first item on the agenda was a trip to the GP to talk about an issue which has been bugging me a lot since my nose op back in September. I have a throat irritation thing which often makes me feel the need to clear my throat and/or cough, and since the surgery it's got considerably worse, to the point where it occasionally makes me want to scream in frustration. I specifically chose to see the doctor at the surgery who I've found to be particularly sympathetic with her bedside manner in the past, and the poor woman was suffering herself with this really bad cold virus thing that everyone seems to have at the moment (it was her first day back at work after being off sick).

I explained about the problem, explained what I'd been doing to try and counter it, and also that, again since the surgery, a problem I thought I'd left behind a long time ago had returned - last week I had an asthma attack for the first time in about ten years.

Sarah is dazed and confused by the unfamiliar inhaler
I'm thinking this is something to do with allergies, and perhaps my nasal polyps were blocking some of what's irritating me from getting further down. The ENT specialist previously confirmed that the polyps were due to allergies, so this seems to make sense.

I walked out of the surgery with a monster prescription. In addition to my regular HRT repeat, which is due, I got a Ventolin inhaler and a steroid inhaler. The former looks just like I remember, but the latter left me dazed and confused by its appearance, which I thought similar to an alien artifact, and left me feeling like the world has moved on in ways I don't entirely understand, similar to when schoolkids these days talk about "year nine" and suchlike. I seem to be turning into an old fart.

A pleasant surprise was a prescription for diazepam (Valium), which I can use on the occasions when it's really bothering me. After being introduced to diazepam back in the Sussex Nuffield hospital nearly two years ago ("I'm really scared, is there anything you can give me to help?"), I must say that I've developed an appreciation for the stuff (I don't have a Valium habit, nor do I crave it at all - thankfully I seem to be blessed with a body which is fairly resistant to getting addicted to things, but I do appreciate the job it does when it's needed, in myself and in others). I'm debating whether to tell my mother or not (if you still read this, Mum, I guess I just did) - I suspect she would not approve.

After the trip to the doctor's surgery, and the follow up trip to Boots to get the drugs (which were all free - prepayment for the win), and a whole bunch of nice scented things to put in the bath (your prescription will take ten minutes, look at the shiny things in the shop while you wait! Buy them! Buy them now! Good consumer! Well done!), it was back home for a cup of tea before embarking on the second major errand of the day - getting divorced.

the_local_echo and I walked to the bank where we withdrew the court fee - £300. While I was waiting, I got to listen to a man on the bank's phone explaining at great length about how he'd lost his credit card down some narrow gap in a petrol pump by spectacular error, and imagined the poor call centre person on the other end thinking, "I don't care, just let me cancel it and get off my line - I want to go for lunch".

The cash acquired (ouch - that's a sizeable fraction of what I paid for my voice), we then walked to the county court, mentioned to the bored security guard that we "are here to see the nice divorce people", and he was kind enough to wave us round the apparently superfluous airport-style metal detector.

We explained to the lady at reception that we were here for an annulment, but we weren't sure if we'd filled the forms in correctly. She said that she'd get the person who dealt with annulments to come and talk to us.

A few minutes later, the two of us found ourselves sat round a table with a very nice lady who was being very helpful in a maternal way. She told us that she does all the IGRC annulments, and that she's done "four or five already".

Hang on - the Gender Recognition Act was passed four years ago. Apparently about 1 in 25 applications is for an interim certificate (i.e. for marriage annulment). Not everyone who transitions applies for a GRC, not all transsexual people are eligible for one either (because they haven't been transitioned long enough, don't meet some obscure criterion, or haven't transitioned yet (and may not intend to), for example), so let's say half of transsexual people in the UK have a GRC. I'd say that's probably an overestimate, at least based on the circles I move in.

That would suggest a transsexual population in South Cambridgeshire of 25 * 5 * 2 = 250. That's out of a population (Cambridge and its commuter belt) of about a quarter of a million.

Which suggests that about 0.1%, or one in a thousand people in this part of the world are transsexual.

Every time this comes up, someone repeats the mantra that there are "five thousand" transsexual people in the UK, out of a population of sixty million. That's less than 0.01% - a tenth of what I just worked out from the above "back of envelope" calculation.

So either there's "something in the water" in these parts, or the "five thousand transsexual people" estimate is complete nonsense, or a mixture of both. I suspect the latter - trans women in general seem drawn to IT careers, and Cambridge has one of the world's largest high tech clusters.

But still - one in a thousand; I was surprised. It would also suggest that about thirty people from this area transition a year - about ten times the number that the Primary Care Trust allocate funding for. Their stubborn insistence on not funding my surgery starts to develop a little more context.

Anyway, we went through the form - I think the nice lady enjoyed talking to two people who were not only getting divorced in an amicable manner, but possibly even looking forward to it. She was really, really helpful, reassured us that it should be done in time for the civil partnership ceremony in April, and said that we were welcome to keep ringing up to ask about progress, and that we should ask for her specifically. Working in the divorce department of a county court must be a soul destroying job at times, dealing with people whose lives are being dismantled around them, so perhaps it was nice for all three of us.

After she'd gone through the forms with us, Sylvia and I handed over the forms, our marriage certificate, my interim gender recognition certificate (we'd had it for just 48 hours), and the money, while holding hands, and then went and did some last minute Christmas shopping in the nearby Grafton Centre before parting company.

So far today I'd managed to get myself back on asthma medication after being symptom-free for ten years, got a prescription for Valium, had a walk in town, initiated divorce proceedings without the use of a solicitor, and done a load of Christmas shopping. That was before lunch. I think the Chai Latte and mince pie I had in Starbucks after that was well earned!

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[User Picture]
From:parmonster
Date:23rd December, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
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That would suggest a transsexual population in South Cambridgeshire of 25 * 5 * 2 = 2500. That's out of a population (Cambridge and its commuter belt) of about a quarter of a million.

Which suggests that about 0.1%, or one in a thousand people in this part of the world are transsexual.


I know math is hard sweetie... but 2500/250000 == 0.01, or 1%, not 0.1%

We're EVERYWHERE!
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 12:18 am (UTC)
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Other mistake - an extra zero snuck in. 25 * 5 * 2 is 250, not 2500.

I'll fix the article now.
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From:the_local_echo
Date:23rd December, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
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Then some bureaucrat has the job of tweaking the estimates upwards, I guess.

The really tricky things for governments to estimate are things like illegal immigration numbers - you can count how many people you're deporting, but it's harder to make a stab at how many you haven't found.
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From:the_local_echo
Date:23rd December, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
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So either there's "something in the water" in these parts, or the "five thousand transsexual people" estimate is complete nonsense, or a mixture of both

Nah, it's not evidence for the 5000 being nonsense, because you're essentially extrapolating the total number of GRCs based on the numbers in Cambridge. But we already know the total number of GRCs....

Another way of looking at it is that, according to the leaflet we got, there are about 160 divorce courts in England and Wales. About 80 IGRCs have been issued in England and Wales since the law came in, so an average divorce court would expect to see less than one IGRC annulment. If they've seen five, then the prevalence of transsexualism in South Cambridgeshire is ten times the average.

2200 GRCs have been issued so far in the UK, so divide that by the population of 48 million adults. It's very late here and I am tired, but I do believe that's one in 20000. Then if you want lifetime prevalence of TSism you need to chuck in a monster fudge factor for those transsexuals who have decided not to apply for a GRC, aren't eligible, or haven't been diagnosed yet.

So maybe, as a low-end estimate, at least one in 10000 country-wide, and one in a thousand in Cambridge.

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From:maellenkleth
Date:23rd December, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
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1 in 10,000 seems about right for westernmost Canada, as well, based on similar statistical inference.

and congratulations on making progress with the marital paperwork!
From:mon462
Date:23rd December, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)
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So sorry to hear of the divorce.
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
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We're not! We were starting to worry that we might have to go with "plan B" and make the ceremony in April a "renewal of vows" ceremony, and then do the legal stuff afterwards, because the annulment might not come through in time. Now it looks like it will.

We did ask if they could serve the papers on Sylvia there and then, but apparently there's bureaucracy they have to do first.
From:scorpionflail
Date:23rd December, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
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I never thought I'd congratulate any friends who were still together on a divorce but .. congratulations, I'm glad things are further along.

It's good to know the person handling these in Cambridge is so friendly as we're still taking copious notes for our own try. Thank you for the update :).

(and I maintain it's something in the water in Cambridge simply because that's funnier)
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
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It's good to know the person handling these in Cambridge is so friendly as we're still taking copious notes for our own try. Thank you for the update :).

You're welcome!

Something which would have helped us a lot if we'd knew - the 6 month window for an IGRC only applies to starting the divorce process. The IGRC does not need to be valid for the decree nici or decree absolute. If we'd looked sufficiently carefully at the smallprint before hand, this would have made the timing rather less scary.
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From:zoefruitcake
Date:23rd December, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
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Yes, I'm a bit fond of valium ;0)

Glad it all went so smoothly with the forms
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 10:45 am (UTC)
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Yes, I'm a bit fond of valium ;0)

I do often wonder what the point of technological society is if not to be able to produce things like Valium.

So much better for one than using alcohol to produce the same effect too.
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[User Picture]
From:notinventedhere
Date:23rd December, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)

WTF?

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OK - I'm with you on the inhaler - what is that? I have a steroid inhaler, and it doesn't look like that - it looks just like my Ventolin inhaler, but it's a different colour.

It's not a breath-activated one, is it? If so, major cool points!

(But you're right - I still feel old...)
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 10:43 am (UTC)

Re: WTF?

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It's not a breath-activated one, is it? If so, major cool points!

It totally is! Being a geek, not long after I first used it I had it half dismantled to work out how it works (and it still does after I put it back together). The lever on the top depresses the aerosol inside, but there's a second valve inside the mouthpiece which prevents it firing. Also at the bottom are a series of vents behind a sort of sliding plastic thing. So far as I can tell, when you start breathing in, a pressure differential is created which causes the sliding thing to move forwards, and as it does so it trips a switch which opens the secondary valve, dispensing the steroid.
From:maia_of_amenti
Date:23rd December, 2008 11:03 am (UTC)

Number of transsexuals to go up

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With HRT in the water and things, the feminization of Men - leading to transsexualism is likely to increase I suspect, it's something the western world is going to have to learn to accept.
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)

Re: Number of transsexuals to go up

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the feminization of Men

Everyone should have a hobby.

Now where did I put that French Maid's uniform and those waxing strips?
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From:cyberspice
Date:23rd December, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
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I always assumed it was about 1 in 1000 just from anecdotal evidence. You can't walk around Leeds city centre without running in to one of us. Hell go to any of the more alternative night clubs are there are several.
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 11:41 am (UTC)
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IME, it's very common to share a tube carriage at least once if one spends the day in London too. Most people don't seem to notice us.

What was the line from Transamerica? "We walk amongst you!"
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[User Picture]
From:cyberspice
Date:23rd December, 2008 11:47 am (UTC)
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Something in the water may be the cause. Exeter is a hot spot and the Ex is one of the most heavily estrogenised rivers in the country. I personally don't think it is feminising *us* I think its during our gestation that our mothers are affected. Of course in your case since you're not a Cambridge native that will not be the case. But it is interesting that you do get hot spots...
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From:snakey
Date:23rd December, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)
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Wonder what the explanation for trans man hot spots is....
From:cjp39
Date:23rd December, 2008 01:10 pm (UTC)
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"I seem to be turning into an old fart."

Better than a fresh one!


"Trans women in general seem drawn to IT careers"

People in IT careers are also more likely to have found the kind of support community (via teh interwebs) that they would need to get over the huge hurdles life throws at those who transition, I assume?
From:bethybabes
Date:23rd December, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
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I have asthma too and I love getting new inhalers. Some of them are like something from Doctor Who and I once had to ask the pharmacist for a demonstration as I just couldn't work it out!

Congrats on the divorce too :-)
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
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I once had to ask the pharmacist for a demonstration as I just couldn't work it out!

Did the pharmacist know?
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From:lnr
Date:23rd December, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
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My mum had a steroid inhaler once a day for a while when her asthma was particularly bad, though it didn't look like that one (it was brown, and less barbie space age). It was amazing what a cough it made her give when she took it. Hope yours helps anyway.

And congrats on getting the divorce paperwork underway, hope it all goes smoothly.
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From:cillygirl
Date:23rd December, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
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Haha, sounds like an awesome productive day.

Urgh, asthma. Mine is fine at the moment but I'm sure I'm due for a flare-up before winter is out.

The "5000" figure is utter nonsense. I guess that trans people do tend to congregate in certain areas, but at one point a friend and me put together had supposedly met over half the transwomen in Scotland. This seemed to us pretty unlikely, given that there were lots of people out there who we knew of but hadn't met, lots of people in different social circles and stealth and so on and so forth...

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From:katsmeat
Date:23rd December, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
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Most cool! It sounds like you've got yourself a demand valve, out of diving regulator.

What is interesting is that economics make it worthwhile for Pharma companies to pay for a little (I assume) assembled-in-China plastic mechanism that cuts down on the waste of the product.

Technically, they probably like waste of the product the way HP likes incontinent ink-jet printers. But the healthcare professionals they sell to don't like it so I guess it's a good marketing ploy to appeal to their wishes.

BTW - Didn't Lynn Conway come up with 1 in 5000? One in 1000 seem quite spot on for a population that's wealthier, significantly more educated, geekier and more open-minded then the people of Averageburough in Randomshire.

Actually, I came across some reference a while back that claimed about 1/3 of the women who were significantly involved in SF fandom were trans. I think the writer was making a point about both the prevalence of transgenderism amongst geeks and the paucity of women in general within SF. Unfortunately, I can't remember the figures, the criteria or the URL. Which kind've makes that a meaningless, useless anecdote. But hey...
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd December, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
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Most cool! It sounds like you've got yourself a demand valve

I guess that's exactly what it is, yeah.

What is interesting is that economics make it worthwhile for Pharma companies to pay for a little (I assume) assembled-in-China plastic mechanism that cuts down on the waste of the product.

The sad fact is that while the aerosol cartridge is clearly trivially replaceable, I know that next time I'll get a whole new unit. That just feels wrong.
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