Doctors and Health Care

Catharine posted this comment:

“I rarely have gone to doctors. I’ve always received hormones through ‘other means’ and these days from online sources without prescription. I haven’t been to a doctor in years that know anything about me being WBT and because I’m not willing to open up about my past, it’s doubtful I ever will seek medical attention for anything if it is related to something that would be perceived as “trans”. I’ve heard too many horror stories and with the US doctors being allowed to discriminate based on religion, I wouldn’t even call 911 if I had to in the US.

In Europe I do go to the doctor but not for anything “T” related. In my job, early arthritis is common so I’ve been seeing a doctor about that but my “past” isn’t an issue and there’s no reason for me to bring it up.

I just don’t feel comfortable dealing with doctors who will most likely throw into the transgender category, because of something I did when I was a kid. I am too afraid to ever see a US doctor because of ignorance and hatred and the assumption that I’m like every other transgender person they’ve seen on the tele.”

I am afraid you have a false stereotype of American Doctors.

That aside the biggest barrier many of us have to receiving adequate medical care for any issue is not faith based hostility but rather lack of health insurance.

I’m not afraid to educate doctors when I have to.  If I had been I would have had a far more difficult time in becoming in 1969 when I had to teach doctors what transsexualism was and wasn’t about.  This was particularly true during the period of 1969-70 when I had social workers in the Berkeley welfare office using me as a test case in an attempt to get the federal government & California government’s medical assistance for indigent people to fund both SRS and employment training for me at a time when LBJ’s Great Society/War on Poverty programs were still functioning (although Nixon was already in the process of killing them and turning them into welfare).

They sent me to several psychiatrists who all wrote me what would be excellent surgery recommendation letters.  During our conversations I educated them and came off so articulate that they didn’t see me as disabled.  The Social Services Dept. needed them to see me as disabled.  Finally a psychiatrist wrote the letter before meeting me.

Basically I photocopied chapters on hormones from Benjamin’s book as well as the Green & Money book and taught doctors what to do when it came to prescribing hormones.

Later I lived in cities where there were doctors who saw WBTs as patients and knew which tests were important to occassionaly administer.

Now my partner and I live in a place where we are pretty much disconnected from any other sisters residing locally so we do not have some one to ask. “Who do you see?’

When I had the serious problem of my implant forcing its way out through the skin I looked up a woman who was a board certified reconstructive surgeon who specialized in treating women with breast cancer.  I automatically dismissed going to most of the male doctors because at that piont I just wanted the damned implants out. 35 years of one problem or another with them was enough.

I looked at her web site.  I took Tina with me and asked for her to be with me during the examination.  I made it clear she was my partner and that she could not be excluded.

I did not tell of my history.  It was not relevant in this situation.  Although were I undergoing a complete examination because of concerns for other issues I would tell since taking the hormones can have an impact on the liver as well as other matters such as blood pressure, clots, cholesterol etc.

We were treated with respect and dignity.  I might add that the surgery was performed at Presbyterian Hospital and we were also treated with the utmost respect and dignity there.

Recently Tina had to see a doctor. She had lost a great deal of weight and was experiencing numbness of her feet and hands as well as other symptoms of major concern.  I had to nag her for months.  The Doctors we were referred to by my surgeon (who had removed the implants) did not see Medicare patients(Our government medical insurance for seniors and the disabled) but gave us a referral to a doctor who did.

Tina was open regarding her history.  The doctor respected us as a couple and while he was not fully knowledgeable only asked a couple of unnecessary questions.  Over the course of two visits he spent nearly 3 hours with us taking a history and making a diagnosis of diabetes.  He was very thorough in his explanations of the ramifications and the necessary actions.

Fear or shame has no place in dealing with health issues.  We sometimes have special needs.  So do a lot of people.  Why should we be any more embarassed than anyone else?  We are equal human beings and have a right to be treated with the same expertise and respect as any other human being.  Our transsexualism is just another medical fact and not some sort of shameful short coming.

2 Responses to “Doctors and Health Care”

  1. Catherine Says:

    Dear Suzan,

    You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t feel embarrassed and I am deserving of good medical care. Everyone should be.

    I honestly did have a nightmare with medical practitioners in South Carolina where, I believe, a lot of my fear of the medical system in the US stems from. Being from California, I know all places in the US aren’t like what I endured there, and I probably shouldn’t be so fearful. However, I would also, most likely, lose my job if anyone in my company found out anything about my past as well which keeps me from being too open, normally, about any issue I may have over my past with medical practitioners as I haven’t seen much adherence to HIPA regulations in certain areas of the country.

    While in South Carolina, I ended up seeing a psychologist there over the treatment I received from a MUSC doctor and after six months of therapy, when I decided to switch therapists, she told the following therapist I was a “hermaphrodite” and that she thought it important that I accept Jesus Christ in my life. The doctor I had seen before her refused to even prescribe me hormones until talking to a therapist though I transitioned over 20 years ago because, according to him, I had to be ‘lying’. He wanted me to bring in “proof” that I was “transgendered”. He told my therapist that he thought I was a woman that wanted to be a transsexual. That was a first for me and it sort of spun me. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation.

    After a bought of serious depression which I sought help for while I was there, I was put in a “male” clinic where I was raped and beaten. I think my treatment was even worse when they found out I didn’t have a penis. I was the only one in the ward that also had not arrived in handcuffs. I found out later it was a ‘violent offender’ ward where I was told that ‘something like me’ would be safer. My mother was told by my psychologist (over the phone) that there was “no place in the US that treated people like me”. My mother said, “You mean depressed women?”

    It was made up of mostly military people. Many of which were there for beating their wives. One guy, who had spent some time in Thailand with the Navy, was kind enough to keep people away but only if I answered his incredibly insulting and embarrassing questions. Many, at first, couldn’t understand what a woman was doing there but word got around rapidly. I was not treated for depression; instead, I was treated for lack of belief in Christ. Before the attorney could get me out, and I’m not exaggerating, I had to admit to believing in a “Loving God”. (I do not believe in any God) It was right there on the yellow outpatient sheet. 12. Do you believe in God? and 13. Do you believe God is A) Loving B) Vengeful or C) Other.

    I’m not sure I’ll ever completely recover from my experiences there. So, I’m understandably a little nervous about saying anything about being WBT in certain parts of the US.

    That said, I know you are right. I shouldn’t be frightened about US health care necessarily and if I had it on good advice, I probably would go to a doctor in an emergency if I was visiting California since I know the area. However, I’d rather die before going to a doctor in the bible belt of the US without knowing where I was going first. I found you can’t demand fair treatment there. You can only hope for it.

    Part of what happened to me was my fault to a certain degree perhaps. I should have known better. Previously, I had been living in a very religious part of the Balkans and I knew better than to bring up anything about being WBT there and really, in most cases, it’s irrelevant anyway. It’s only been an issue I’ve been given serious thought to since my experience in South Carolina.

    Actually, other than with the APA, is anyone out there doing work trying to change how WBT and TG people are treated in the US medical community? It still boggles my mind that everything that happened to me in South Carolina stemmed from just trying to get a prescription for hormone medication I’ve been taking since I was fifteen.

    Many thanks,


  2. Suzan Says:

    When we needed to find some place cheaper to live than New York or California one criteria was that it wasn’t really cold another was that it wasn’t in the deep south.

    We chose Dallas because it is one of the two most liberal areas in Texas and because it is more western than southern.

    We also checked and learned it had an active LGBT/T Community and had anti discrimination laws that protected not only L/G folks but included Transgender (I know, I know).

    I’m a stone Atheist. There is no god and like the Patty Smith song “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.

    Is anybody doing anything to remove the Christo-Fascist from power. We elected Obama and now control about 60% of the Congress. Athiests like me are vocal against the Religious-Nazis be they Christo-Fascists or Islamo-Fascists.

    All religion is based on misogyny and the control of the masses by an elite.

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