How Health Care Providers Can Better Serve Non-Binary Patients — My Latest for INTO

When Nessi Hunter Alice was 13, they started experiencing nausea every time they ate, sometimes even to the point of throwing up. Nobody took Alice seriously, though, because they’re a non-binary person who was assigned female at birth. Health care providers wrote Alice off as hysterical.

“I went to an older male doctor for a while for that and other concerns,” Alice tells INTO, “and he basically refused to treat me for anything because I was delusional and he didn’t want to treat me until I got psychological stuff worked out. And he called me delusional partially because I identified myself as non-binary.”

It wasn’t until Alice found a doctor who was non-binary supportive that Alice was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is when stomach acid gets into the esophagus, and got the treatment they needed.

Sadly, Alice’s experience is not an anomaly. “Jasper” (who prefers to be anonymous) tells INTO that they went into a psychologist’s office for a disability evaluation, but left the appointment in tears when the psychologist refused to use their pronouns and asked invasive questions about Jasper’s genitals. Others have health care providers that say they’re supportive, but their actions show otherwise. Jay, for example, was misgendered by their doctor in two referral letters to a gender identity clinic.

Read the rest here.

Will Non-Binary Gender Markers Go Nationwide? — My Latest for INTO

Jessica Porten of Rewire recently wrote: “The future is not female; it’s non-binary.” Perhaps she’s right, given the recent news about non-binary gender markers in Colorado and DC schools adding non-binary gender options on enrollment forms. Non-binary people — people who do not identify as either men or women — are getting more recognition and acknowledgment, both within and outside of the LGBTQ community.

Legal recognition of non-binary and intersex people has surprisingly come a long way since Jamie Shupe became the first legally recognized non-binary person in the U.S. in June 2016. Now there are five states — Arkansas, Oregon, California, Maine, and Minnesota — that offer non-binary gender markers on driver’s licenses and state IDs, along with the District of Columbia.

But there are questions about the future. Will non-binary gender markers go nationwide? What are the legal barriers preventing that from happening? What about people who think there shouldn’t be any gender markers at all?

Read the rest here.

Will The Rainbow Wave Increase Bisexual Visibility? — My Latest for INTO

Last Tuesday’s midterm election was a watershed moment for many LGBTQ+ people running for office. The winners from the so-called Rainbow Wave include Jared Polis of Colorado, the first gay man elected governor; Sharice Davids, Kansas’ first Native American and gay congressperson; and Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, two trans women elected to New Hampshire’s House of Representatives. The midterm election was also favorable to bisexuals such as Katie Hill of California, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, and Harrie Farrow, who was elected Justice of the Peace for Carroll County, AR. And Kyrsten Sinema just eked out a win for Arizona’s open Senate seat.

But will these successes increase bisexual visibility? Even in 2018, bisexual invisibility remains a huge problem among the LGBTQ population, despite bi+ people making up the majority of LGBTQ people. The results of bi invisibility are literally deadly; countless studies show that bi+ people have worse mental health than lesbians and gay men, and are at a high risk of suicide. Will the Rainbow Wave help, even if it’s just a little bit?

Farrow hopes so. “We need more out people to save the bi community from our health and mental health disparities,” she says. “But ironically, the best ways to get more out people is to have more out people. There has to be a sense that when you come out, you won’t be on your own being battered around by a lonely wind totally vulnerable to hate and discrimination; there has to be community and role models to embrace you when biphobes abandon and bully….Just as out and proud gay people shattered stereotypes, the same is desperately needed for bisexuals.”

Read the rest here.

What Fuels Suicidality Among Trans Men? — My First Article for INTO

CW: Suicide, Sexual Assault, Racism, Transphobia

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 40 percent of trans people have attempted suicide at some point during their lives, and 48 percent have seriously considered it. A more recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics confirms this high risk even among transgender adolescents. Nearly half of adolescent trans guys reported having at least one suicide attempt in their lives, with more than 40 percent of non-binary adolescents and about 30 percent of trans girls reporting the same thing.

What’s interesting to note is how much trans boys are at a great risk of suicide — higher than trans girls and non-binary adolescents — but the study doesn’t explain why. Are there unique obstacles young trans men face that other trans-identified people don’t?

Perhaps surprisingly the answer is yes. “I think one of the obvious risk factors that trans men experience is sexual assault and violence,” says trans blogger Sam Dylan Finch of Let’s Queer Things Up. “Not that we don’t see this happening to folks of other genders, but people perceived as girls and women have a categorical risk for sexual violence that makes them vulnerable early on in life.”

Read the rest here.