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Mar 19 2014

What “Religious Freedom” Looks Like

So-called “religious freedom” bills are springing up like maggots on corpses. Some of you may wonder what such freedom looks like. Zinnia can tell you: she knows just what that freedom looks like to a trans person.

Before this, I actually didn’t have a regular physician, largely because I just didn’t want to deal with doctors. It’s not due to some arbitrary aversion – it’s because receiving appropriate and sensitive healthcare when you’re trans, even healthcare completely unrelated to transitioning, is a minefield.

Trans people have often found that when they seek care for any sort of illness, their doctors advise them to discontinue HRT regardless of whether their current health problem has any connection to this. Some of us don’t even get that far – one of my friends was unable to receive any medical attention for her asthma simply because her doctor refused to treat trans people at all [emphasis added].

This issue is more than anecdotal: in a national survey of over 6,000 trans people, 19% reported they had been denied service by a healthcare provider due to being trans. 28% had been harassed in a medical setting because they’re trans. And 28% also reported that because of disrespect and discrimination from providers, they delayed or avoided treatment when they were ill.

That may not be wise, but when cis people go to a clinic for a flu or a broken toe, they generally don’t have to worry about being turned away just because of who they are. We do, so seeking care can be a difficult thing to contemplate. When going to a new and unfamiliar doctor, we never know what kind of ignorance or hostility we’re going to face. It’s an alarming unknown.

Think about that, the next time you blithely make an appointment, never once worrying that your doctor will refuse to treat you because you’re gay or a trans person or someone who makes their shitty little god angry.

Think about that the next time you see people legislating hate.

Image shows Morpheus from the Matrix. Caption reads, "What if I told you bigots are using freedom of religion to hide their bigotry in this issue."

 

1 comment

  1. 1
    besomyka

    I’ve personally been lucky so far. The worse I’ve had is the use of my old name when called (without title qualifier), and my old name is gender ambigious on the masculine side. There are women who have it, some famous, but it’s rare.

    My primary care physician was empathetic and very supportive. She’s always used the correct name and pronouns. New nurses don’t know, but the last person asked for my preferred name (my legal one is still on the charts), and made sure it was in the paperwork.

    So I’m in the 80%., but of my trans friends, a good number of them don’t have a doctor of any sort, even though they are well-employed and insured. They do HRT on their own, sometimes ordering medication from overseas or from the black market, without blood-tests and monitoring because they’ve been turned away in the past.

    One person even had the clerk or nurse, call out “Mr. ?” And when prompted for a correction, stood there in the lobby arguing over the title in front of everyone. Mortifying.

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