Your Body, Your Health foreword
Enjoy being a woman!
‘Enjoy being a woman!’ the lady psychiatrist purred as I was being discharged after several months as a mental patient. I wasn’t ‘mental’, as we used to say then, just an undiagnosed transsexual. It was 1960 and life looked bleak but ten years later I was enabled to begin my transformation to Mark.
The medical world was waking up to the fact that we weren’t psychotic. From then on, although treatment was patchy I was immensely relieved to be undergoing surgical and medical procedures that enabled me to live a happier life than ever envisaged. We owe much to the specialists who, in spite of the attitudes of some of their conservative colleagues and of course the press, continued with their efforts to ease the mental suffering of a misunderstood minority.
Now, many years later, the press plays little heed to us, even when we want it, and the public seems almost indifferent. Most of my journey, and I am sure contemporaries would agree, I ‘played it by ear’, which could be quite a lonely and confusing path. In all areas it seemed there were hurdles to surmount. It was a challenge and but somehow we got there and perhaps consequently grew stronger.
Isolation and lack of information was then undoubtedly common to nearly everyone, both medics and folk in our situation. It is for that reason that I thoroughly applaud everyone who has been involved in the preparation of this excellent booklet. It will, I am sure, greatly ease and enhance the paths of those who are now setting out to what I hope will be a happy destination.
Mark Rees is a pioneer in gender transition who took the UK to the European Court of Human Rights in the 1980s because of its refusal to recognise his preferred gender in law. He tells his story in the acclaimed autobiography 'Dear Sir or Madam’ (available in hardback from Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or as ebook ISBN 978-0-9562734-1-3)
The Men's Health Forum is a member of the NHS England Information Standard and this new manual is fully compliant. This means it is fully-referenced, has been peer-reviewed by our team of medics led by Dr John Chisholm, the Men's Health Forum's chair of trustees, and also road-tested with men. You can have confidence that this is a reliable source of quality evidence-based health information.
It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.
In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.
It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.
We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.
Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.