It's time to go the vampires and have my blood labs checked. Since I actually go to two Veteran's Administration hospitals for care, it seems to always be confusing to new people I meet in the system. Add in the fact I am transgender and confusion often dominates the conversation. My latest example came yesterday when I was trying to set up having my blood checked at the nearest VA clinic to me rather than make the drive (one hour/one way) up to Dayton to get the work done.
Initially I was having a difficult time getting the point across what I wanted. The nurse kept going back to my last results which I already knew. As she was going through the results she paused, and I knew what was coming. She said in a questioning voice what was this estradiol test for. Even though I felt it was really none of her business, I told her the truth. I was transgender. After all of this, I did get an appointment with my doctor to get the bloodwork done locally. The VA has an on-line site where the results are available for the veteran and their health care providers. My other providers finally learned they could access my records also which saved me a trip.
I am aware VA healthcare is not equal for all transgender veterans as is reflected in this archived post I wrote last year:
" Along the way here in Cyrsti's Condo, I enjoy reading other experiences from other transgender women who share a similar age to me. Five (at least) are transgender veterans and it seems I am learning of more trans vets daily. By reading their comments, what the typical person doesn't realize I think is the wide range of care you can receive in various Veterans Administration Hospitals.
|Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabonao|
Also, trans persons in my age range (65-70 plus) go through being an educational experiment. Meaning, we are educating our medical providers about the needs of transgender patients. As it has turned out, I have been on both sides of becoming a self care provider. I do think over the years, more and more medical professionals are being educated to us. When I look back at my experiences mostly at the Dayton, Ohio VA center, they have many residents from nearby universities following around my regular doctors. I always take it as a good sign when a young college aged professional has the opportunity to see a transgender woman such as me be cared for.
Unfortunately I know all haven't been able to have the same beneficial experiences. I know I am mostly speaking to the choir here but imagine if you have to fight through personal and or religious discrimination to even receive quality transgender care such as hormone replacement therapy. Which studies have proven to be mentally helpful to the mental health of so many gender dysphoric individuals. Alternatives such as Equitas Health are proving to be life saving medical providers for the LGBTQ community if you are lucky enough to live near one of their offices in the Midwestern United States.
Now, let's go back to another major service the VA provides for transgender veterans...mental health care. Again, from the comments I receive, the care a vet receives varies widely from VA center to center. As I have previously written my original therapist at the VA has been with me all the way and has been completely sympathetic and proactive to my needs. Of course HRT meds come to mind but there was so much more such as providing paperwork to help with name and gender changes within and out of the system.
Plus, even though I had to educate my initial endocrinologists, my current "Endo" is also a wonderful provider who monitors and takes care of my needs.
Through all of this, I hoped I would be the rule, not the exception. But from many of the comments I receive I am afraid I am not. it is too late to cry over spilled estrogen when you are 72. Sure, such as many of you I wish I had worked my way out of cross dressing and into a transgender life much earlier than I did. It seemed my gender crystal ball was a bit cloudy and the life I so meticulously built and protected as a man was too good to give up.
I hope your journey across the gender frontier has brought you to where you want to be. No matter the years it took you to get there and the experiences you had with your health care."