Trans woman Tanya Walker has spoken frankly about the horrible experience she had in the emergency room. Apparently, she was coughing up blood, yet the ER doctors kept asking her questions about her genitals.
Tanya said of experiences, which occured back in 2013 in the US: “It seemed like they weren’t going to treat me unless I told them what genitals I had. I felt cornered.”
She experienced a stigma that is sadly familiar to many transgender people across the world, including harassment and ridicule. While this is unfortunately present in many aspects of society, but it seems even the doctor’s office is not exempt from transphobia.
Transgender rights have very much been thrust into the forefront of things lately, after anti-LGBT activists realised they could not fight against marriage equality, so instead targeted the rights of trans people in the US.
But, as slowly as society has been understanding and coming to accept gender identity, the medical profession is even slower to adapt, according to various leaders in trans medicine and trans advocates and patients.
Back in June, there was a report which stated that about 30% of transgender patients reported either delaying or not seeking care due to discrimination. One in four said they did not experience equal treatment when seeking medical care.
Dr. Aron Janssen, founder and director of the gender and sexuality service at New York University Langone Medical Center, had this to say: “We have a lot to apologize for in the medical community. Our treatment of transgender people has been abhorrent. he medical world is very far behind. It is a conservative organization. Things are slow to move.”
Various trans patients have reported incidents such as routine misgendering and deadnaming, even when their identity documents have been legally changed. For example, trans man Jay Kallio had a lump in his breast checked back in 2008.
Apparently, his main doctor never called back with the biopsy results, and he only became aware that he had breast cancer when a radiologist happened to check up on him a few weeks later.
When Kallio finally heard from the doctor, he was less than warm.
Kallio said: “He immediately said, ‘I have a problem with your transgender status.’ He said, ‘I don’t even know what to call you,’.”
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as things are definitely improving for transgender patients, especially in large centres in big cities. Even so, there is still a huge amount of work to be done with 42% of trans men reporting verbal harassment, physical assault or denial of treatment in a 2015 report.
But, things are improving, especially since some schools are now including LGBT health in it’s curriculum.
If you have any stories of discrimination when trying to seek medical care that you wish to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org