Monday, January 8, 2018

Transgender Health Care

In response to the Cyrsti's Condo post "Are You", which concerned my conversation on the phone with the VA receptionist who was scheduling my mammogram. She asked if I was male or female, to which I replied "transgender."

Connie wrote about her experience at the doctor:

"When it comes to health care, nothing short of full disclosure should be deemed acceptable - even at the expense of hurt feelings or embarrassment. Still, discreteness should not be sacrificed for the sake of disclosure.

When I first saw my current GP, he had never had a transgender patient. He obviously had received some training on how to talk to a trans woman, but he was very awkward about it. The second time I had an appointment, he had either done some research or asked some questions, which made him even more careful in how he talked to me - worried more about offending me than in dealing with my health issue, it seemed to me. 

Interestingly, I was suffering from a urinary tract infection at the time, and he hadn't known the source of it until all of the lab results had come in. UTIs are more common with women than with men, but the source of mine was my prostate gland - something he neglected to check on my first visit. The antibiotic he prescribed, therefore, was ineffective. I told him that I was totally aware that my biological makeup was male, and that he could not offend me in the least by treating it as such. Although he never admitted it, I believe he avoided doing a prostate exam for fear of offending me.

My very first physical exam, early in my transition, was done by a doctor who is very popular with trans women in my area. I had not yet changed my name or gender marker, but I arrived for my appointment appearing to be all the woman I could muster. As I sat waiting in the exam room, the nurse wheeled in a tray that was covered by a white towel. The doctor, after a discussion with me concerning my general health and trans issues, lifted the towel to reveal a complete set of instruments for a gynecological exam! She held up the speculum and said, "I don't think we need this...yet." We both got a good laugh out of it, and she proceeded with a digital exam of my prostate (talk about killing a laugh...). 

Even if I ever get to experience the need for a gynecological exam one day, I hope to still have to suffer through the prostate exam. The alternative would be to be permanently connected to a colostomy bag, which is not the image of femininity I have for myself."
Thanks for your experience!

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