A Manchester transgender student has been forced to crowdfund thousands of pounds after waiting three years for a gender clinic appointment.
Chris Meadowcroft created the cabaret club night TOP NOTCH at The Peer Hat in Manchester to raise the final funds to pay for double mastectomy surgery – commonly referred to in the trans community as ‘top surgery’.
Chris has been fundraising online to pay for his surgery since late 2020 after a three year wait to receive a first appointment from the gender identity clinic (GIC) in Nottingham.
Gender-affirming surgery is available on the NHS through GICs across the country, but it is common for trans and nonbinary people to access private healthcare due to long wait times between appointments.
The 21-year-old said: “Even if I did have a first appointment, it would still be another year before a diagnosis was made, and then it could be multiple years before I actually got surgery. It very much felt like I was living my life on hold waiting for something to happen.”
Private gender-affirming surgery in the UK costs several thousands of pounds, and due to the amount of trans people choosing to access it, the waiting lists have grown.
Chris’ GoFundMe page has raised over £6000 towards the cost of his surgery, but he still needs to reach around £9000 before his surgery date in November.
“I’ve seen a massive increase in people that are crowdfunding and going private… It’s great that people are getting their surgery but it’s kind of frustrating because it’s stuff that can be provided on the NHS, but just can’t be in a timely manner.”
New trans-affirming initiatives are starting up around the country, including Indigo Gender Service in Manchester, but due to many trans healthcare procedures being deemed non-essential during the pandemic, there is still a backlog of patients waiting to be seen on the NHS.
When asked what cisgender people can do to help the trans community, Chris said: “listening to trans people around you, listening to what they need from you and what they want from you.
“It’s the same with any group. We’re not a monolith of people that all want the same thing.”
He also called upon cis people to donate their money to trans and nonbinary people.
“For a lot of trans people, [gender-affirming surgery] is something they need.”
Chris came up with the idea for a fundraising event after seeing others in the trans community doing similar things to cover the cost of healthcare. He said that he “wanted to put something on that could raise money, but is also a fun time.”
TOP NOTCH will feature a variety of different performers from the LGBTQ+ community, providing a wide range of poetry, music and drag acts throughout the night.
Some of the featured acts include poet Charles R. Sterling and musician DJ Duckdown. There will also be art prints and poetry on sale throughout the night, as well as tarot readings.
Chris and the organisers of TOP NOTCH have said that they are “really grateful” to all of the performers and volunteers who will be helping on the night for donating their time and talents for free.
The venue is also free to hire on Monday nights, meaning that all funds taken from the event will go towards Chris’ medical fees.
TOP NOTCH will be going ahead on Monday 8th November at The Peer Hat from 6:30pm until midnight. Tickets are currently available on Eventbrite for £7.50, but those on low income can get in touch with TOP NOTCH via Instagram and Facebook (@topnotch.surgery) to enquire about sliding scale pricing.