Reaching Out

On my request for questions last week, Dearlilyjune asked:

Studies show that transgendered patients often avoid going to the doctor when they should. Is there a way you would reach out to/encourage that demographic?

Here is the thing, and I am going to be very open here, I would not know the first thing about specifically reaching transgender patients and recruiting them into my practice. I wish I could write some erudite treatise or share some story of compassion that would wow everyone of you but I cannot. 

I don’t try to recruit any particular types of patients, however I will treat anyone and everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle.

The first time I encountered a transgender patient was in residency and truthfully, I sucked at it. No training, no experience. I had grown up sheltered from anything and everything. And to be honest, I thought that I would never meet anyone who was transgender. What are the odds, you know? What so many forget, and what I did not realize at the time as I was just starting out, is that the world is full of “alternative” lifestyles. Just because you don’t see it does not mean it isn’t happening. I am privileged to know a lot of secrets and I can assure you that the world is not full of just plain vanilla. Oh, no. Very little vanilla, in fact….

What I have figured out over the years is this (and these rules apply across the board for all patients): Be respectful. Make clear you are not judging. Ensure your staff keeps their professionalism. 

Too often transgender men and women are treated as circus freaks. I have witnessed it. That would certainly keep me from seeking help as a patient and it is not the type of medical practice I want to be a part of.

The bottom line is that all people deserve respectful, compassionate medical care. 

Period.

No matter what.

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70 thoughts on “Reaching Out

  1. Well-written, Victo. The bottom line, as you say, is that everyone deserves respectful, compassionate medical care, no matter their race, creed, age, size, sexual orientation, financial status, etc. If I lived in your area, I would definitely want you as my primary.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is a very sensitive answer.

    My best friend’s younger child is trans – F to M. And it seems that many things are difficult for him, so sensitivity is a must.

    I’m guessing that in the not too distant future there will be specialists for transgender patients. There will likely need to be, as the effects of the pharmacological interventions will be significantly different from straight or gay patients. All that testosterone/progesterone …

    Liked by 3 people

    • They DO have a unique set of medical issues to address. That is the other problem. You have to have a physician who is willing to look things up, admit when they don’t know something. In smaller, outlying communities it is very hard to find that. In medicine your only job is to treat, to improve health, not to make moral judgements. That is very difficult for some physicians to do.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. This was a very honest answer. If healthcare providers were to treat all their patients the way they would want themselves or loved ones to be treated it would be obvious to be kind, caring, and compassionate to each one no matter what.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well said…. I think that most professionals treat sexual orientation as a non-issue. I my opinion and experience, however …..fat people….they have no problem discriminating and treating them as crap…. compassion goes out the door.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Even though this is often mistaken taken from the Hippocratic oath and paraphrased from another,..

    “First do no harm”, is relevant for everyone to live up to.. And a theme I see as part of you throughout your blog.. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said, it is trauma enough to visit a doctor under any circumstances, my blood pressure always sky rockets whenever I go. So I can only imagine how difficult it would be for transgender people to need to visit a doctor. Thank you for bringing up a point that I had never really considered.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s not the job of a doctor to judge the lifestyle choices or beliefs of the patient, it’s the job of a doctor to raise and deal with actual health concerns. “First, do no harm” would naturally imply respect, although people who know better respect others anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I cared for a few intersex patients. They were older, but I had to rely on their help during procedures. I never treated a younger person who had no experience. I know it must be difficult if orifices aren’t in usual places and they can’t advise you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m embarrassed and ashamed by my lack of knowledge and respect when it came to transgender patients. It’s only in relatively recent times I’ve stopped having a laugh at their expense. Over three years’ ago, I wrote a blog post in which I poked fun at one of them. I’ve often thought of taking that post down or editing it, but I leave it there because I feel as if by taking it down, I’m pretending I’ve always known better and treated transgender people with utmost respect, and I’d feel that I wasn’t being genuine. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and just take it down, or at least add an addendum to the above effect …

    Like

    • I think adding an addendum to that affect would be brilliant. I know I have some posts that I leave up for the same reasons. Thank goodness we all continue to grow and have the opportunity to become better people, myself included! 🙂

      Like

  10. I thought you would find this interesting.

    Yesterday, I had lunch with my friend with the transgender child (F to M). Here’s a medical question I’d never thought of. They are having trouble because he has polycystic ovaries and needs to have regular exams. Insurance doesn’t pay for gynecological examinations for men! I would never have thought of that as another problem with transgender people.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: To Binary or Not to Binary–On the Occasion that You Have to Use the Bathroom – dearlilyjune

  12. Amen to that. Another train of thought, just read an article about Mormons’ “new” medical system of patient care apparently dealing with a lot of patient information, the patient history becoming key. Made me think about you. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. as a transgender myself, it’s a sad truth that a lot of doctors aren’t very respectful. I’ve never been to one who treated me the way it should be. Not caring about their patient being dysphoric and therefore extremely uncomfortable when it comes to certain examinations, they just do it without warning. Whenever I go to a doctor I feel humiliated. Once I even cried, as I was having a really rough day, and he just said “Now don’t make a drama out of this, I look at bodies all the time!” Of course I never went back to him. Just because he looks at bodies all the time, doesn’t mean it wrong for me, as a patient, to feel uncomfortable.
    It’s good to hear that there are doctors out there, who have more respect

    Liked by 1 person

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