My new GP surgery is great, it even has a dispensary that sorts out my T prescriptions for me; awesome!
I have also, however, recently experienced the ugly side of seeking medical care as a trans person. Months ago the Gender Identity Clinic asked that I be referred for a hysterectomy, because I experience severe cramping and am at heightened risk of endometrial thickening and atrophy.
We were all good to go, and I attended a consultation at my local hospital. It was a little awkward to be seen in the women’s clinic and to answer personal questions but as far as I was aware, all was well. Later that evening I received a frustrating phone-call from the surgeon, stating that my funding had been denied.
I wrote a polite but firm complaint letter the next day, outlining the medical reasons for my surgery and asking whether it was perhaps discriminatory to disallow treatment, when it would be offered to any cis person in my situation.
Less than 24 hours later I received a phone-call from the manager to apologise, confirm that funding had now been obtained, and let me know that I was on the waiting list. She explained that the hospital had assumed my surgery was due to ‘mental health’ and that as soon as physical symptoms were mentioned the funding decision was reversed.
Why am I telling you this? Because it isn’t the first time I have had difficulties accessing medical treatment. I have had doctors refusing to prescribe my hormones, nurses grumbling about having to administer my injections, paramedics asking me intrusive and irrelevant questions and physical health problems repeatedly attributed to either my transition or my mental health. I know that my trans friends and colleagues can tell similar stories.
So what are we called to do about it? Paul encourages Christian communities to speak the truth in love throughout his letters, and particularly in Ephesians 4.15. Speaking the truth isn’t about always being kind and gentle; Jesus turned tables in the name of truth, after all. Speaking the truth is about noticing injustice and telling people about it in the hope that something might change.
Medical injustice is a fact of daily life for trans people. Please speak out about it, please help medical professionals to understand our needs. Please point out that we, too, are just human and that our bodies, too, need help sometimes.
If you would like to tell your stories of medical injustice, or you need help to break down a barrier to your treatment, get in touch. Together, we can face the system and, hopefully, be agents of change.