A parent's story – Val, Luke's mum

Val is Luke's mum. Luke decided to preserve his fertility – read about his experiences in the 'young people' section of this site.

What role did you have in helping Luke consider options around fertility preservation?

Having gone through IVF myself (Luke was an IVF baby), I was able to tell Luke about my experiences and what to expect from the treatment. We talked about the various scenarios when he is older about how the eggs would be used. Whether he has a male or female partner and whether he would have someone else carry the child or do it himself as a male.

How did you go about it?

We have a very understanding GP (explained below). We explained that this was something that Luke wanted to do (he did the talking) and the doctor took it from there. She made an application on his behalf and dealt with all the paperwork.

Did you come across any hurdles?

The doctor originally said she thought there was little chance of it being approved on the NHS as IVF is not covered in our county. However she was willing to put an application in and see what happened. We were extremely surprised and delighted when she rang to say it had been approved. After that it was a very straightforward process.

What did the process involve for you? How much did it cost?

I contacted the school to let them know the treatment he would be undergoing and possible side effects and also that he would need time off to attend appointments. The school were very supportive and discreet. I accompanied him to appointments and helped him with the initial injections, giving tips on how I coped with the side effects like hot flushes.

As the treatment was covered by the NHS it didn’t cost anything for the egg retrieval and the first year of storage. After the first year the storage cost is £100 a year.

What did you find most difficult about it as a parent and how did you overcome this?

At first I was surprised that Luke wanted to do this. Having talked with older trans men at a trans residential camp, they said they would not have their eggs preserved as they felt it was dealing with the feminine part of them. However, Luke was very good at explaining how he had reached his decision and I felt that if he didn’t do it when he had the chance (before blockers and testosterone) that he would always regret it.

It was difficult to see him go through the internal examinations, injections and side effects . It helped that Luke wanted me to be involved with the process from the beginning and that I was able to advise him on what to expect. The whole family were behind him and having a sense of humour helped. Now when we drive past the clinic in the car, we wave to our ”future grandchildren” as we pass.

What advice would you give to other parents who are supporting their child through this process?

Find a good GP. This is so important. The initial doctors we saw when Luke first came out obviously felt uncomfortable dealing with his situation. When we approached our current GP, we were upfront about Luke’s transgender status and said we needed a doctor who would be completely on board with this as this was an ongoing process and in the future we would need letters of referral and someone who could possibly fight our corner. We said we would understand if she didn’t feel comfortable about this or if there was another doctor she could recommend who would be willing to take him on. She assured us that she would be completely supportive and she has been wonderful ever since.

Maintain a good relationship with the school and any other organisation you need support from. They are much more likely to support you if they like you.  Remember that often it is the first time they have dealt with anything like this, and they will take guidance from you. Also you will be asking for time off for appointments etc. so you need them on side.

Discuss all options with your child. Ask them why they want this and go through all the different situations when they are older. What sex of partner they are likely to have and who would carry the child. What if the eggs are not used? (Luke wants to donate them if he doesn’t use them). Make sure they know what is involved and discuss what to do if the NHS will not fund this. We were very lucky with the funding, but be prepared for disappointment.