Yesterday I posted the story of a transgender person and the sort of stories many of us non-trans people do not hear about employment concerns of transgender individuals.
In her homily about “how transgender lives are mostly invisible to the community around us,” Shannon shares the story of the indignities a transgender woman suffered at the hands of medical professionals.
Medical treatment can be a big problem for trans folk. I had just moved to a different area and needed to find a new primary care physician. I found a particular pattern to the interactions with a new doctor. First you would make an appointment with a new doctor. Then you would go to the first appointment. When you were taken back into the exam rooms, the nurse would get your vitals while chit chatting and then the doctor would come in sit down on a stool next to you while the nurse finished the blood pressure or some such.
At some point the doctor would always get to THE QUESTION. The question….when was your last period? At this point you have a choice: lie….or tell the truth. If you try to skirt the issue, they follow up with more questions. I just tell the truth. At that point, the doctor or nurse or both move to the opposite side of the room. They pull back away from you.
After that, the questions if there are any more, are curt and not friendly any more. Then comes the inevitable question about your sexual activity and if you would like them to perform an HIV test. What's that you say? You're doctor doesn't always ask you if you want to be tested for AIDS?
Welcome to our world. Their goal from that point on seems to be just to get you out of their offices as quickly and with as little interaction as possible….well that is for the ones that will treat you. There are always those that tell you that they don't approve of your “lifestyle,” that they cannot treat you, and they think it would be better if you find another doctor.
Of course, that is just the ones that will actually see you. Another incident was just after I had come home after having my surgery. I needed to find a gynecologist and I started calling around to find recommendations. One of my other doctors recommended the local university women's medical center.
Upon calling them and explaining that I needed to see a gynecologist, I was asked a number of questions about why I needed to see a gynecologist. I answered that I was transsexual and needed post-surgical treatment related to healing of my wounds. I was told that I should go back to wherever it was that did the surgery where they treat people like me, at which point she hung up on me.