Gayly published an article talking about trans healthcare which shines a light on a problem I’ve experienced–healthcare providers and insurance companies that reject transgender people for service because they are transgender.
Obviously, the gross level of this is to simply refuse service–I’ve had this happen to me once; I was new in town, and had developed a case of strep. I called a doc, hoping I could set up a regular primary-care thing as well, and the staff made me an appointment.
When I got there, and filled out the paperwork, and paid my co-pay, I was getting strange looks from the front-office staff. They took me to an exam room, and the nurse was taking my blood pressure and said, “so, you’re transgender, right?” “Yes, I am,” I replied. “Well, then I’m going to have to ask you to leave. We don’t serve transgender people.”
For strep? No, they don’t, because the doctor’s Christian faith would not allow it. They had talked to her with their suspicions, and she’d given the order to toss me out on my ear; I never saw her. They even wanted to keep my $60 co-pay–I kicked the gong about that, and refused to leave until they refunded my money.
A few months later, I’d found a seemingly-decent doctor who had treated my strep, and was renewing my hormone prescriptions. I’d given her the address of the clinic where I had started my transition, as I was pretty sure they’d have some good guides on ongoing care that they’re willing to share with other physicians.
But I was stuck in the dumps, and was worried that my hormone levels were not right (they weren’t, I found out a year or so later), and went to talk to her about the depressive episode, and see if we could adjust my dosage, or get a mild anti-depressant just to get me over the hump. She said, “That’s the choice you made. I can’t do anything.”
Clever woman that I am, I glibly responded, “huh?”
The choice to be transgender, you see. That’s what she’s talking about. So I blew my stack at her, pointing out that for me–as with a fair number of us–it’s a choice between transition or dying, and aren’t you glad I made the choice I did, now get off your duff and treat me like a human!
…so I had to find another doctor. Again.
Don’t even get me started on insurance…at one point in my life, I was buying open-market, and was basically uninsurable because I’m transgender. “Pre-existing condition” rejections were still legal, then, and my life is apparently a pre-existing condition. Even as great as my current employer is, our insurance does not cover surgical needs of transgender people.
This stuff happens to transgender people all the time, and it’s not just a rural problem. So much so, that when my current doctor wanted to refer me to a specialist, my first question was, “are they trans-friendly?” We shouldn’t have to worry about that, but there it is. Trans people delay treatment for conditions far too often, and the reason is frequently because they fear harassment or rejection from medical professionals. They fear that because it happens. A lot.
By the way, if you’re in the Houston area, and need a recommendation for a fantastic doctor who works with LGBT patients, drop me a note–she already says she owes me a toaster, I’ve sent so many people her way. The hubs and I are holding out for the fondue pot, I replied.