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Special lectures turn the spotlight on gender issues
18/06/2015

People will be given the chance to learn more about gender identity, sexual development and the impact which gender dysphoria can have on mental health at two special lectures taking place in Ipswich and Norwich.

The gender, sex and mental health events have been arranged by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) with the aim of increasing understanding, changing perceptions and busting myths around gender issues.

They will be presented by transgender writer, activist and occasional stand-up comic Katy Jon Went alongside consultant psychiatrist and former trust Medical Director Dr Hadrian Ball, and have been arranged following the success of a similar lecture held last year.

The lectures will look at biological issues which can lead to gender dysphoria, which is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. They will also explore gender incongruence, hormonal-surgical transition and the effects on mental wellbeing, while giving people an opportunity to engage with the speakers.

"We hope that anyone with an interest in gender issues will come along to the lectures, which aim to bust myths, increase acceptance and give people the chance to ask any questions they may have," said Katy, 48, who lives near Norwich.

"I firmly believe that you cannot expect people to understand issues unless you are willing to educate them. I hope that these events will help us to do just that in a relaxed and welcoming environment.

"There is more acceptance of gender dysphoria and transgender issues now than ever before, which is a step in the right direction. But there is still more which needs to be done to change perceptions and stereotypes, both among the public and the wider medical profession.

"Personally, I buried gender dysphoria for most of my life and would try and do anything to 'cure' myself of it. In the end I learnt to be myself and embrace it, and that made me the happiest I have ever been.

"I hope that by talking about some of those experiences during the lectures, I will be able to help the audience to a greater understanding of the issues faced by trans people from across East Anglia."

Dr Ball provides a weekly assessment clinic for transgender patients at the Julian Hospital, in Norwich, and can accept referrals from GPs from across Norfolk, with the exception of the Great Yarmouth area.

He is then able to refer onto a specialist gender identity clinic in Nottingham, where patients can receive a full range of services, including hormone treatment, psychiatric and psychological assessment, endocrine assessment and treatment and supportive psychotherapy.

"I have seen around 70 patients since NSFT launched the Norfolk clinic a year ago, and will carry out an initial assessment and answer any questions they may have," said Dr Ball. "When appropriate, this allows me to then make a detailed onward referral which includes information about the patient's medical history.

"Our informal links with the clinic in Nottingham also mean I am able to get expert advice over the phone on a case by case basis, which is incredibly helpful.

"The last lecture we gave was a real success and everyone who came along was extremely supportive and sympathetic. I hope we can enjoy similar success with the two events planned for Ipswich and Norwich."

The lectures take place on:

• Tuesday 23 June, 2pm – 4.30pm, Lecture Theatre, Ipswich Library, Northgate Street, Ipswich, IP1 3DE

• Wednesday 15 July, 6.30pm – 9pm, Curve Auditorium, the Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF

Anyone who would like to attend should email membership@nsft.nhs.uk, ring 01603 421468 or visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/MemberLectureSum2015  

For more information about Katy, visit www.katyjon.com  ​