Today is a guest post from one of the other members of our affiliate who also manages a gender studies department at a local university.
In an ideal world, everyone involved in the medical field would understand that “mark one: M/F” doesn’t work for all of their patients. Sadly, we’re far from an ideal world, and especially when you’re approaching a new medical office for issues unconnected to transitioning (getting tested for STIs, getting an annual exam, getting antibiotics for strep throat), there are a few things that you can do to make it a little easier.
1. Ask your friends for a recommendation. This is probably the best way to find someone, since you can follow in their footsteps.
2. Research potential medical offices in advance. Some practitioners aren’t going to be a good fit for you, and it’s best to find that out ahead of time, rather than after an expensive appointment. Some steps to consider:
- Look through lists of LGBTQ-friendly doctors: Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, or T-Vox’s list of physicians who are supportive of transgender people
- Make a list of your questions ahead of time – you don’t want to forget anything!
- Put the most important questions at the top of the list – you may only have a few minutes to talk, and you want to make sure that you cover your priorities.
- The GLMA has a list of the top 10 things trans people may want to discuss with their provider – it’s a great resource.
- Don’t forget to get a feel for the office staff, too – you may be having your appointment with Dr. Jones, but you’ll be interacting with her staff a lot, so make sure you see how they handle things, too.
3. Bring a friend – this can be a stressful experience, and having someone who can be your advocate is a real boon.
4. Plan out what you’ll do if the office is horrible. Sometimes, you need a prescription for antibiotics and you’ll decide to grit your teeth and get through it, but if you know ahead of time what your exit strategies are, you’ll be able to walk out when it’s warranted.
5. Lastly, please go to the doctor when you need medical attention. Depending on finances and insurance, go to a clinic, find a place with sliding-scale fees, make a drive to get to the nearby town with a supportive doctor, but don’t neglect your health. Your body deserves to be cared for and deserves a doctor who will treat you well.