WALKING past Glasgow’s Sandyford Clinic on Saturday morning, you would never have known from the music and dancing outside that the gathering was there not to celebrate but to protect the clinic from violence.

The Scottish Family Party had announced their intent to brick shut the doors of the clinic, which provides abortion and gender services to the citizens of Glasgow and well beyond.

Cabaret has become a staple of recent rallies against hate in Scotland, and counter-protesters showed up in their hundreds on a cold March morning to defend the service from organisers who said they were “willing to do time” to make their feelings known.

While the counter-demo remained cheerful and defiant throughout – easily outnumbering the bigots by a factor of 10 to one – unbeknownst to many in the crowd a line of police vans waited discreetly around the corner, presumably in case those threats against the clinic became something more than a publicity stunt.

The bitter irony, however, is that the Scottish Family Party need not have bothered bringing its bricks and flags to the clinic. The doors are already shut tight against Scotland’s transgender community.

Appointment waiting list data for its gender identity clinic shows that the service has taken well over a year to get through just a month’s worth of referrals from early 2018. At this pace, the wait for a first appointment for an adult referred today would be close to 60 years.

A clinic insider has revealed just how dire the situation is: two psychiatrists, working one day a week, to meet the needs of the entire west of Scotland’s transgender community; one single person working half the week to cover all trans young people in the entire country; a backlog of referrals stretching back years; and the threat of further funding cuts to come.

It’s like throwing a sponge into the ocean and expecting it to absorb the sea in its entirety.

So let’s just call it as it is: trans healthcare on the Scottish NHS does not exist. Not for the overwhelming majority of those who seek it. We are very much on our own. And that’s nothing new, to be honest. Transgender people have been funding each other’s transitions for decades now, ever since the first gender affirming surgeries took place more than a century ago.

Still, though, even with the knowledge the wait would be long and difficult, it was still one that felt like it would come to an end … eventually. Not anymore.

Having already been on the waiting list for years, it’s a heavy notion to contemplate that at this current pace I won’t get my first appointment until I’m in my 80s, if at all; to contemplate that my name might as well be written on a piece of scrap paper discarded in a filing cabinet for all the good that list will do; to contemplate that I have nothing from that wait but wasted time and a false promise.

Without significant government intervention, that leaves two options for Scotland’s transgender community – private healthcare or DIY healthcare. Private healthcare is unaffordable for most without running a crowdfunder. And DIY healthcare – though I support it – still comes with risks, given the lack of diagnostic and monitoring tools available to someone treating themselves outwith the healthcare system.

Some critics will likely say there is a third option; to allow ourselves to be forcibly detransitioned. But that is no option at all. It’s like telling equal marriage advocates that we don’t need to legalise gay marriage because straight marriage is already an option for everyone.

It ignores the basic fact that being transgender is not a choice. It’s a fundamental identity marker, and pretending it can be coerced out of us through violent conversion therapy or by withholding access to healthcare is nothing more than a dystopian fiction.

There will be, in years to come, a reckoning of the young people who have been denied access to healthcare. They will turn to the adults and politicians who created this morass of misinformation and denial and tell them directly of the horrible consequences of their behaviour; to tell them that they did not help or protect them, but burdened them with consequences that they will spend the rest of their lives dealing with.

Because it is this climate of hostility that is destroying health services for trans people in Scotland. An insider at the Sandyford revealed that, with the constant threats and climate of fear over the clinic’s clients, they are unable to fill advertised positions within the service. The aims of the Scottish Family Party had been achieved well before the idea for their latest stunt had even begun to form.

It speaks to the abject failures of the Scottish Government, whose inaction on Gender Recognition Reform has played a central role in letting this toxic environment seep into our healthcare system like an acid that eats away at the core principles of the NHS: That it meet the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery, and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.

There is, however, one aspect of the Scottish Family Party’s pitiful demo that I agree with.

The Gender Identity Clinic at Sandyford should be shut down. Trans healthcare should be more fully absorbed into primary care, not separated and left to rot even with the best intentions of the few trying to keep it moving forward; to keep it from collapsing entirely.

There are alternatives to the current system; better routes to meeting our healthcare needs.

But until they are in place, we’ll have to continue looking after one another. At least now we are dispelled of the notion that we are waiting for anything other than a train that will never arrive at the station.