“White lies are minor lies which could be considered to be harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term. White lies are also considered to be used for greater good. A common version of a white lie is to tell only part of the truth, therefore not be suspected of lying, yet also conceal something else, to avoid awkward questions.” (Wikipedia)
A heavily pregnant lady stumbles in to an Accident and Emergency department one rainy evening. She is obviously in pain, bent over with her face contorted she shouts for help, falling to her knees. Two doctors run over to her and help her onto a wheel chair and hurriedly push her through the door towards the treatment rooms, they ask her name and date of birth and she starts to feel like things will be OK. The next few questions make her feel uneasy though.
“Have you seen a psychiatrist about being pregnant? Have they certified you mentally able to give birth? Have you managed to keep a job to prove that you can function in society as a mother? You do know that pregnant people should act in a certain manner, and for you to act any other way will result in your treatment being withdrawn? Oh, and we can’t give you any help for a few months because our workload is so high, and even then there is a high chance your appointment will be cancelled at short notice.”
Doesn’t sound right does it? Yet this is how many trans people are treated today.
The recent hashtag, #TransDocFail on Twitter started out as a way of pointing out how the recent media coverage of Dr. Richard Curtis is so warped. The media couldn’t care less about the hundreds of stories from trans people being mistreated, degraded and humiliated by members of the medical profession, but as soon as a doctor who has helped thousands of transsexuals appears to be in trouble before the GMC, all over the newspapers and internet transphobic journalists jump on the story.
One of the things #TransDocFail eventually succeeded in doing though, is showing how trans folk are scared of their doctors. Scared that if they tell the doctors certain things their treatment will be withheld, scared that if they present as anything other than a non-binary male or female the ‘experts’ will judge them and hold up the process of getting hormones or surgery. Scared of having to out themselves in any medical situation and having the ‘professionals’ mistreat or even refuse to treat them.
I lied to the specialist at the Gender Identity Clinic. It was only a white lie though and it wasn’t anything major, does that make it OK? I had spent 18 months living as female, on the waiting list for a first appointment for a large amount of that time, my life felt like it was in limbo, waiting for a doctor to tell me what I already knew, waiting for for the Gatekeepers of the Hormones to catch up with me. I wasn’t going to make the process any more complicated than it needed to be. I’d heard firsthand the stories about trans people being refused treatment because they hadn’t jumped through the hoops required. I wasn’t going to risk that.
Bottom line is, I didn’t trust my doctor to help me unless I mislead him.
It goes deeper than Gender Specialists though, reading through the #TransDocFail conversation shows that GP’s, A+E doctors and virtually every other member of the medical community are just as likely to discriminate against trans folk.
So come on then, journalists and members of the media, I challenge you to publish a story about how a trans person has been badly treated by a doctor, I want to open up my favourite news site and read about a trans someone fighting for the treatment they need, I want you to expose how a person who happens to be transsexual is being mistreated by the medical community. If you see fit to pillory a doctor for failing to live up to standards, why not pick one who hasn’t been an asset to our community?
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