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Tuesday, 25 March 2008

I arrived 8 or 9 minutes late

Ok, I wasn't exactly on top of things. So I waited until I was about to run out of T to call. What do I do if they say no? And then I waited to come in with my passport. How long am I willing to go off of T? And I arrived a few minutes late for my appointment. How many months am I willing to wait again?

I showed up before the cutoff time, but I wasn't fully registered with the office for some reason because they needed to see my passport. Which I had with me when I came to register initially, but which they hadn't asked to see then. The front desk woman scolded me. I'll have to make another appointment. She was the same person who took my registration originally. Who acted uncomfortable when I asked if the doctor could refill my T prescription or if I would be referred out of office. What is the process in this country? "I don't know. You need to talk to the doctor." This is the closest office to the school. Could I really be the only transitioning student in my entire university?

She took my passport and disappeared into the back room for several minutes. I chatted a bit with the other, friendlier woman behind the counter. "Maybe you should try to make afternoon appointments," she wisely suggested. Finally, her more dour colleague returned and handed me my passport. "I've had to register you as a female." she said, as if I had been trying to pull something. I shrugged. I know I still require pelvic exams and whatnot. "Fair enough." I said. She was annoyed. "You tried to put down both." What I put down was "ftm." Can somebody in a doctors office really not know what ftm means? There are thousands of students at my uni. Percentage wise, trans people are only a few per thousand, but there should be a half a dozen of us at the very least. "Ftm" is not both, it's a specific designation relating to what health services that I require and the identity I need respected. No, I did not just put on my paperwork "I am a freaky person trying to make your life difficult" but thanks for treating me that way.

She went on, still dour. "You'll have to re-book. We have nothing for the next week. Call up every morning at 8:45 to see if we have anything for that day." Oh shit. "Ok" I said. What the hell else am I going to say? The other, friendlier desk person finished her phone call and suddenly noticed I was leaving. "Wait, do you want to schedule a new appointment?" she called after me. I looked back questioningly. Her dour colleague answered, "No, I've just told her to call in the mornings."


Is the doctor going to be like this too? Is it the whole office? Is it just this one person? Can I find another office? When I run out of T on thursday, when will I be able to get more? Am I going to be able to get an appointment in the next two weeks? Are they going to make me go get a therapist letter? Will I have to wait to get on the calendar of an endocrinologist? Is there a way to scam more T without going through the proper legal channels?

But, I have to be fair. I'm prepared to concede that it's my fault that I was turned away from the doctor's office this morning. They phoned me a week ago to say that they needed to see my passport and I didn't bring it until I arrived a few minutes late this morning. (I did try to bring it on Good Friday, but they were closed until this morning.)

I have no love for the medical profession. I can recall every single time that a doctor treated me like a full person. It works out to about five of them. Maybe 6. I want to go on to make a claim about how I'm in a special class in this regard and how the very job description of a doctor is a promotion of normativity in bodies - to force them to conform to a state we call "health," (which is a system that can work well for the promotion of well-being in already normative bodies and uses of said bodies). I want to say that doctors abhor queers because queerness - a non-normative use of the body - is uncomfortably close to ill health. It's something to be diagnosed, treated and stamped out. But, alas, I don't think I'm in a special class. The perfect patient is one who is already well, already normal. If you can't or won't have the ideal weight, if you won't conform in that regard, then you've already spurred part of what the doctor is offering you. If you don't want this part of the normativity, why should ze offer you any of it? I've seen how doctors treated my mom while she was dying. I overheard them, years earlier, driving her towards an eating disorder while they obsessed about her weight. I've heard the stories of people with disabilities. I'm not special. If your doctor treats you like a full person, then you are the one in the special class. Everybody else here is just somehow refusing doctor's orders. Not skinny. Not physically able. Not young. Not physically male. Abnormal and untreatably so.

Forced by circumstance, they're willing to concede very specific circumstances in which one may escape portions of normativity, in exchange for more fully conforming to other ones. There's a set drama that is required to unfold in the treatment of transsexuality. It usually starts with a GP and then is referred on from there. Sometimes, like in the US, GPs will prescribe hormones. If their office allows it. If they feel like it. They might just say it's against policy when it's not and then act really uncomfortable and shoo you out. If your GP won't do it, if you are less fortunate that I was, you get sent through a set of people who are supposed to talk you out of it. It's a really lovely system. I hope to see it more widely introduced. "Oh, um, well, what makes you so certain you need eyeglasses? Have you always had trouble seeing? How do you know this isn't just a phase? Sorry, if you were serious about needing glasses, you wouldn't have arrived dressed that way."

I've had enough doctors act visibly repulsed by my sexual orientation and gender non-conformity that I'm still surprised when they treat me like a person. It's not what I expect. If I need to come in to get a hormone prescription refill in a new country, of course they're going to look for a reason to say no. And what then? What do I do then?


Adam said...

If life were easy, everyone would do it. Good luck navigating the medical industry.

Les said...