When a doctor hears that you’re transsexual.

This week I had to attend an emergency appointment in the hospital with my gastrologist. I won’t go into the gory details of why, but suffice to say that over the past fortnight I have spent an inordinate amount of time either in bed, or lying on my side on the couch wishing I was dead. It’s been a very rough period of my life.

If you have any experience in hospitals then you know that most of the time, when you attend a clinic of some kind you will be seen by a different doctor each time. You may, or may not see the specialist in charge. But you will see someone, and because of the speed with which the other doctors rotate through various clinics it’s unlikely you’ll meet the same doctor twice. Ordinarily this is a good thing. Ordinarily this gives you the chance for fresh eyes to see your case, the chance for someone with the potential for a new insight to attend to your case. This isn’t such a good thing if you’re transsexual.


Well let me tell you a little about my experience over the past decade with doctors not attached to my gender clinic. In those ten years precisely two doctors have understood that my gender has zero to do with my stomach problems. My GP, and the specialist in charge of the tummy clinic. That’s it.

So you wander in to an exam room from the waiting area. They ask (for the umpteenth time) for a list of your symptoms, how your medication is working out for you, things like that. Then they ask you for a complete list of the medications you’re taking. This goes fine until you mention being on both Goserelin, and oestrogen.

“Why are you on those?”

At this point my brain usually derails for a few moments. Yes, of course I know I’m transgendered. But I’m so comfortable in my own skin these days that I often forget for hours, or occasionally, even days at a time. It’s jarring to have to bring it back into mental focus. It’s also stressful when you have to bring someone new into the loop on your physical nature.

“Because I’m being treated for being transsexual.”

That’s the point when one of two things happens. Either they move on with your interview, and try their hardest to help you. Or they simply switch off, because obviously if you have gender issues it’s all in your head. Nevermind that you have had these symptoms since you were four years old, long before you even realised there was a difference between boys, and girls. Nevermind that if it actually was all in your head, you would have surely had some kind of improvement when you became comfortable in your own skin. And most of all nevermind that the doctor sitting in front of you is honour, and duty bound to treat you to the best of their ability, regardless of their own biases.

There are many things I love about being transsexual, I’ve written about them twice. But I loathe telling medical professionals about my true nature. Nothing else in my life makes me feel so vulnerable, so powerless. They after all hold in their hands my potential to become physically well, (for the first time in my life) and the power to blatantly, or subtly refuse to help me.

Luckily this week I got a wonderful doctor who was genuinely, and very obviously upset by her inability to explain what was wrong with me. Sometimes you just get lucky that way, and end up with a gentle human being caring for you, rather than a tin god on a power trip.

3 Comments to “When a doctor hears that you’re transsexual.”

  1. I feel your pain, your discomfort. I haven’t been aware of my transsexuality as long as you obviously have I just knew all my life that something was not quite right with my world. I have been fortunate with doctors so far and whenever I’ve gone to the hospital they have been very respectfully and professional. I did have one incident with a technician who referred to me as him, I’m mtf, and I had been living as a woman almost a year when I encountered her. My legal documents still listed me as male and had my male name, but I had informed them prior to treatment that I was transsexual and wished to be referred to in feminine terms. When she made her little slip I let her know in no uncertain terms what I thought of what she said but in a very polite and civil manner. She did apologize and said she meant no disrespect., I thanked her. My biggest problem has been with using public women’s rooms. Usually it has not been a problem but twice I was confronted by security guards after some woman reported that there was a man in the women’s room. Fortunately I had a Safe Passage letter the first time and the next time I had updated my State ID so that it showed my gender as female and had my new female name. It irks me when this happens because I don’t understand why some women are afraid or upset by transsexuals in the restroom. From my experience we are the least threatening to them of anyone, because we identify with them, yet they identify us with this unfortunate shelf we were born with. Trust me I understand that most men can’t be trusted and a lot of them are dangerous. I’ve had my share of bad experiences with men. I would love to see the day when all restrooms were identified as either “female identified” or “male identified”. That would solve the problem. Here in Chicago there are only two places which label their restrooms in this fashion and they are both places for the LGBTQ community. During the course of this year which I’ve been out it has been a struggle becoming comfortable in my own skin, but I am much more confident than I have ever been and feel that people will either accept me or they won’t. If they can’t I see it as their loss, because I am a wonderful person and would be a plus in anyone’s life.

    • I was forced out of a female restroom in a gaybar in Cork at one stage. Because there was a “guy in one of the stalls.”

      I think this mostly happens due to certain spaces being seen as safe for women, and some women not seeing us as equals.

      Wrong bits = boy.

      I’m not sure what can be done about it directly, I kind of feel that it will be something that can only change over time as society changes. And in the mean time transwomen will have to do the heavy liftng by making sure they have their ID up to date etc.

      • I agreed. But you know what? How can anyone who hasn’t been intimate with you say that you are not a “real woman”? Is there some criteria that screams boy or girl? I say no. You can’t say well you’re too tall to be a girl. I have two daughters who are taller than me and they are both six feet or six one. Facial features aren’t always a telltale sign either because I’ve seen women who look manlier than me and ciswomen sometimes have obvious facial hair. Body structure isn’t a sure thing either. As I have told some this body is only a shell and is in no way an indication of what the person truly is. But we will have to bear up under the attempts at oppression until society matures to where we are not viewed as some kind of threat.

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