by Elliott D.
I had a rough week of emergency doctors’ visits and I’d like to try to see it as a learning experience. So I wrote some tips. Some of this is specific to my personal experience as a trans man on T, with top surgery, who has sex with men, with insurance, in Syracuse. But some of it may be helpful to others. The most important thing to remember is that your safety and comfort always come first!
1. Consider whether you need to disclose. If it isn’t relevant to your visit, you may have no need to. It’s your call, but it’s always an option to keep your trans status private.
2. If you decide to disclose: If you’re comfortable, provide as much as information on the form as possible. Personally, I prefer that to being drilled by the doctor. For instance, I wrote, “Transgender, female to male. Female genitalia.” I considered adding, “I use male pronouns: he/him/his.”
3. Bring a friend. Especially if you have trouble under pressure. Ideally, an assertive friend who knows you well and knows trans issues well. Someone you feel safe with. There is no reason they cannot go in to the appointment with you. They can help you remember stuff later. Plus many times doctors will just be on better behavior because someone else is there. If you don’t know someone, try a local LGBT center or group to find someone.
4. You have a right to say no. We are taught all our lives to respect authority, but doctors are just people. You can ask for a new doctor, walk out, refuse an exam, or refuse to answer uncomfortable questions on forms or aloud. A good doctor puts your comfort first.
5. “There is no such thing as an emergency pap smear.” -my doctor at the Mazzoni Center. Your comfort comes first. Don’t allow them to downplay past trauma or bully you into exams that don’t feel right.
Related specifically to STD testing: You can swab most things yourself. Urine tests can find most STDs. Shaming you, lecturing you, or asking invasive questions about your sex life is not cool and you don’t have to tolerate it.
Related specifically to the STD clinic in the Civic Center in Syracuse: I had a good experience with a woman named Tammy and a woman named Towanna. I have had horrible experiences with a couple others whose names I don’t recall. These women mentioned above said they would be happy having other trans people referred to them. I hope they treat others as well as they did me. See my post, An Open Letter to a Nurse on World AIDs Day.
Another option: Come with us on our trips to the Mazzoni Center. CNY for Solidarity offers a free service that transports people to a sliding scale LGBTQ clinic in Philadelphia. For more information on this, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-464-0063.
For more information on this service, and to learn how you can help us keep it running, check out our Fundrazr page, Sponsor a Seat to LGBTQ Healthcare!
Please do not hesitate to contact CNY for Solidarity for questions or referrals. Please also refer to our Syracuse transgender resource guide. General LGBTQ resource guide coming soon!