Being an Ally #BeMoreJill



Pandemic aside it’s been a bit of a year!

Fracturing my arm in the end had some unexpected benefits! Mostly in giving me the opportunity to do a Solution Focused Hypnotherapy course with an in-depth stand alone model on LGBTQ.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SET ME RIGHT IF I HAVE GOT SOME OF THIS WRONG - BE BRUTAL! I’M TRYING & WANT TO BECOME THAT ALLY. HELP ME GET IT RIGHT FROM THE START.

I wore my NHS Rainbow badge like all of my colleagues and really thought I was empathetic. I knew of the guy who started the rainbow badge project Mike Farquhar - a Paediatric Sleep Consultant. Don’t get me wrong - I was and I am. I was however just completely clueless. Probably even worse when you thought you could understand. I thought I just had to be a safe place and try to understand. Sure that’s something - it just isn’t much. It isn’t enough. Not nearly enough.

I’m 50 and I see the generation ahead of me who just can’t seem to understand any of the terminology or even why we need it around the LGBTQ+ community. My own generation feels potentially quite open and perhaps don’t really know how to express it. I envy younger generations who can seem to be so open, who are interested to ask and then use correct pronouns and just accept who people are, rather than questioning whether they are right to think that.

So what changed?

Watching ‘It’s a Sin’ earlier in the year. Initially I was a teenager as the AIDS epidemic started to take hold. I was so shielded from what was going on. I remember the AIDS advert and the day it was first shown. I didn’t know anyone who I knew as gay then. Not until many years later. How hard it must have been for most LBTQ+ people then. How shamefully people with AIDS were treated, and the stigma about testing was massively prohibiting.

So what was different about “It’s a Sin’?

The story & the acting were amazing. The lines…..La!

It was real. It showed the love, the support, the fun. The heartache, the families, the fear, the denial, the shame. Most of all the humanity.

The characters were so well constructed (& were based on real people known to Russell T Davies - some of whom were tragically lost in the last 80s). It was gripping & emotional. I hadn’t known about people being locked away in wards. I do remember the Kaposi’s sarcoma, the tests in false names after extensive counselling.

I was in my late teens - how could I not have known?

My own experiences were a bit different (actually quite silly now looking back. They seem a bit ridiculous now)….

My sister officially became the brainiest woman in Britain (highest IQ ever of a female in Britain - mine is as yet unknown! :) ), & ITV filmed a piece for the news about her. It was knocked off by the first UK surgeon being diagnosed with HIV. That was a big story for days.

I moved to Sydney in 1997 & watched the Gay Pride Mardis Gras. It was absolutely phenomenal!

Honestly at that stage many people (thought they) didn’t know any of the LGBTQ+ community.

My first memory was while doing a Children’s ITU Transport Job, which was an amazing job. I was going on a 6hr trip with one of the nurses who I got on really well with. We were talking about the Mardi Gras and she said she had a certain type of ticket which only organisers could get - I remember asking ‘well how did you get that?’ And then an ‘Oh!’ moment. It was a long ambulance ride! Imagine that experience now - it seems from another age altogether!

The central hospital in Sydney then was full of AIDs patients & they were tragically still dying. Triple therapy was embedded almost as soon as I arrived such that the hospital was almost empty when I left just before the Olympics. I returned in 2005 for a holiday & the hospital was closing.

Amazing. Flabbergasting!

Finding the virus, & developing treatments seemed to go quite quickly., of course painfully slowly for those desperate for treatments & a cure.

Just think though, what if we’d had a vaccine like we do for COVID within a year? Imagine all of those men who offered so much could still be here. What would the country (or the world) look like then?

After that first experience in the ambulance thankfully the world really has moved on. 5 years ago I was taken a little aback when 2 women attended a clinic who were both the mum. Today I wouldn’t even react. Things feel like they’ve changed. A lot.

There’s something though about the term ‘coming out’ & worrying about the reactions that imply that being LBTQ+ is still shameful. Why? Schoolchildren now express much more gender fluidity & orientation fluidity. It’s not a 2D spectrum it’s a 3D matrix and we all have a spot in it somewhere. I love the Dr Seuss quote (allowing for the recent criticisms) that ‘there’s no one alive (today) who’s youer than you’. We are all supposed to be different. That is the beauty of life.

The Course Module

I hadn’t gone looking for this specific course let alone this module. Looking back ‘It’s A Sin’ had really primed me ready. I saw the course on twitter and was trying to see how I could fit it around work when I slipped & fell trying to take my 2 cockapoos out for a walk. A proper cartoon slip up with feet right up in the air landing on my arm. My wrist crumpled & needed a plate.

It did give me time I wouldn’t normally have to really invest in the course during the third coronavirus lockdown. Things really do happen for a reason!

The module was presented in a really sensitive way with inputs from JammiDodger, a video with Trans people talking about some of their difficult medical experiences. It was a real punch to my gut that these segments were filmed around the old Yorkhill Hospital where I first trained & was really happy - now a clinic facility. There was a video of a trans lady from my parent’s generation who had not had opportunities to articulate or express their situation & who bore those scars, talking to a younger trans girl who had had support & treatment. Heartbreaking as the older Trans lady’s story was, the future looks so much brighter - not perfect by a long shot…..definitely brighter.

I knew then that I had to be a doctor who specifically was there for the LBTQ+ community. One who sought to understand & support. To provide non-judgmental treatment for medical issues unrelated to gender or sexuality as well as sensitively provide support, referral where helpful around those issues. To provide talking therapy that feels comfortable & easy.

I went back to JammiDodger’s YouTube channel & followed some rabbit warren leads that YouTube suggested & really got a sense of what is wanted & needed right now. It was also useful to explore the medical issues without pressurising any actual clients. Things are still changing & fast & hopefully clients as well as CPD can keep me up to date.

Please contact me for an appointment for medical issues or therapy (or both together) or referral to specialist services.

In the meantime please check out these support / charitable organisations:

For children & young people & families: Mermaids