Sorry about the long lapse in blogging, I've been having 15 hour days, so extra time is dedicated to sleep. But alas, I'm here and queer, and very angry.
So today I participated in a preliminary research study on asthma and allergies. This visit was about getting my medical history, testing my lung capacity, and testing me for allergies to put my information in a bank to be drawn out for various studies (which pay big money...chachangggg). Now, usually I have decent luck with doctors. But this was not a pleasant visit on multiple accounts. For being public health representatives, these doctors had no sort of empathy or compassion, let alone understanding.
The first offense: Homophobia. So she asked me if I was sexually active, and I said yes. Then she asked me how many men I was having relations with. I told her none. She looked at me oddly and questioned my first affirmative answer. I replied "I'm gay, I sleep with women." She looked me dead in the eyes and said "Oh, that doesn't count."
EXCUSE ME? My sexuality doesn't count? If you only wanted hetero responses you should have asked "Are you sexually active in heterosexual relations?" (not that I wouldn't be offended by that either). I'm sick of society assuming that there are A. No STI's or diseases that can be spread in lesbian sex, B. There is no "real" penetration in lesbian sex, and C. Women want to sleep with men, and if they sleep with women it's not because they actually care about it or it's just an experiment and consequently doesn't count.
The Second Offense: Transphobia. While filling out one of the surveys, I told her that I go by my middle name "Rae" not my legal first name "Sarah." She looked at me and said that she doesn't do nicknames, she does legal names. Cool lady, real cool. Then I got to the dreaded "Circle one of the following... Gender: Male or Female." I looked up and said that when they print off more copies of this sheet they should change "Gender" to "Sex" since that's what they were really asking, and that they should include "Intersex."
She told me they don't include intersexual individuals in the studies. Which, HOLD THE PHONE, 1 in 2,000 newborns are intersex, I think they need asthma treatment too. Not to mention intersexuals have different biology in terms of reproductive systems, not lungs. Then she told me "You would be the type to want to not want it to say gender."
Excuse me? I look the type? What does that even mean? Because I'm gay I automatically want to transgress gender? I should note, she didn't know my gender identity previous to this. When I explained I don't identify as either gender, she said that if I didn't pick female that I wouldn't be used in the study. What did I do? I wrote in "Gender-Fluid" next to the gender. Don't ask for gender if you mean sex, and if you ask for either, you best lay out all the options.
The Third Offense: Lack of Empathy for Medical History. So here's where things get real personal. I have a history of struggling with anorexia, it was a long battle and I've been in remission for a full year and three months now. When I told her about it (part of giving medical history) she looked at me with this disgusted look and judgment in her eyes saying "Which one is that again? The one where you starve yourself?"
As a medical professional, this should never occur. Anorexia is a disease and should be treated as such. You should NEVER judge, blame, or ridicule a patient for such. But unfortunately both society and medical professionals view anorexia as a choice, something crazy people do for attention. Talk to anyone battling anorexia, it's not a choice. It's not nearly that simple, it's a crippling disorder that consumes your life and can lead to death if untreated for too long. This isn't something to scoff about.
I don't plan on ever going back to that place, helping doctors who don't have enough respect for their patients to maintain them. Doctors visits should be relatively pleasant, and shouldn't leave you with disgust, guilt, or shame. We need to rework how the medical world views diseases and social concerns. I understand they are only human, they have their biases like everyone else, but if you work in a place that helps people of every background imaginable, you should have no choice but to put judgements and bigotries on the shelf in the locker room. As far as I'm concerned, bigotry only deteriorates patient's health, never improves it.
Signed a very angry queer,