You’re not sure whether your partner or family member is transgender, but you’re trying to make an informed choice and want to be certain your partner is a good match for you.
Or maybe you’re worried that you might be at risk of harming yourself, or harming someone else.
In both cases, you might want to know the doctor who will be able to help you navigate this transition.
“There are many things that can go wrong,” says Dr Sarah Williams, a GP in Melbourne, Australia.
“In the UK, people can go to a GP for sex reassignment surgery, or they can have the operation done themselves.
But there is also the possibility that the GP who performs the operation could not be of the right gender.
If that’s the case, then you need to speak to the appropriate doctor.”
For transgender people, this is a daunting prospect.
There are about a million people in the UK who identify as trans, and they are not all recognised as such by the NHS.
Dr Williams says she has seen a lot of transgender people with issues about their health and wellbeing, but not much guidance about what to expect during this transition period.
She advises that anyone considering having the surgery should speak to their GP about the best option for them.
“It’s all about the relationship, so what can we do to help that?” she says.
The NHS guidelines advise that the patient should be able “to understand the risks of the surgery and accept that it is the best choice for them.”
Dr Williams also points out that many transgender people transition in their mid-20s, and if you have a child, you may want to consider whether they would be comfortable with the procedure.
“If they are, then they should be offered counselling and support,” she says, “as they may not be able, or interested, in having surgery themselves.”
A trans woman with a GP GP referral says that many of her patients are afraid of surgery, and often ask if it will affect their ability to marry and have children.
Dr Williams says there is a lot more that needs to be done in terms of educating doctors about transgender people.
She recommends that people are aware of the NHS guidelines for people who wish to have gender reassignment or gender affirmation surgery, as well as the NHS’s guidelines for trans people.
“You need to be informed about what’s being discussed and why,” she adds.
For many trans people, the first step towards finding a new GP can be challenging.
“I have had people tell me that they have already left the NHS because of the issues,” says one trans woman.
“Some of them say they’ve had more difficulties finding a doctor because they were afraid to be openly transgender.”
In the meantime, the NHS offers a lot to help.
“Many of the surgeries offer hormone therapy, and the surgery will be done by a specialist.
There is a huge amount of information about transgender health on NHS websites, but a lot is not really clear about the options,” says Williams.
“So it’s not easy to find the information you need, and that’s why you should always talk to your GP about what is right for you.”