Monday, July 26, 2010

Bad Medicine

One of the things that continues to be an issue in the trans community is the negative treatment that trans people receive at the hands of people in the medical establishment.

While some doctors, nurses, EMT's and other medical personnel are caring, compassionate and professional, we have some nekulturny fools in the bunch as well.

We have doctors who fail to live up to the Hippocratic Oath and nurses, EMT's and other medical personnel who are more concerned with maintaining their faith based bigotry of trans people than providing the quality medical care their trans patients need and deserve.

Even at the expense of that trans person's life.

The nightmare scenario for many transpeople took place almost 15 years ago on August 7, 1995.

Tyra Hunter was on her way to work in Washington DC when the car she was riding in was involved in an accident. She was refused timely treatment by DC Fire Department EMT Adrian Williams and later at DC General Hospital that would have saved her life.

Worse, while Williams was NOT treating Tyra, he took the time to disrespectfully mock her. And what was his punishment? A promotion by the DCFD.

Sadly, the less than stellar treatment trans people receive in medical facilities still happens. Had a transwoman recently e-mail me about her needing to call in her congressmember to get her Medicaid application approved she filed in April 2007.

They glacially dragged their feet on a process that normally takes only 90 days for kidney patients. She heard nothing about her status until July 2008. Once the congressmember's staff started making phone calls on her behalf it was approved two weeks later.

To add insult to her injury, she endured a jacked up transphobic medical experience while getting needed kidney dialysis treatment.

Less than 24 hours after reading her e-mail, I heard the story about a transwoman getting disrespectfully treated July 18 at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, IN.

Her life partner took her there because she was coughing up a large volume of blood.

The patient showed emergency room intake staff her Indiana state ID which had her FEMALE name and FEMALE gender marker in clear print on it.

So what did the Ball Memorial ER staff do? Logged her into their system as a MALE.

The fun and games continue. They proceeded to ridicule the patient and loudly refer to her as "it" while the patient's partner was disrespectfully asked by these infantile health care "professionals" if she was a 'he/she'. To add even more insult to injury, the patient was quizzed about her length of time as a 'transvestite'.

That incident was so jacked up a protest is going to take place there on August 17, and a petition is already circulating on the Net condemning it.

Medical disrespect and poor service happens to our transbrothers as well. Just as Tyra Hunter is our nightmare scenario, Robert Eads has the same significance to many transmen.

They will sadly recall how he was refused medical treatment by two dozen doctors for the cancer that took his life in 1999. His story is detailed in the 2001 documentary 'Southern Comfort'.

And that's before we even get started with pharmacists who refuse to fill hormone prescriptions on specious faith based grounds or if they grudgingly have to do so, disrespect the trans person availing themselves of their services.

So yes, there's a lot of work we must do to ensure that no transperson is denied care or mistreated while receiving it.

But at the same time the medical profession needs to look inward, do the right thing and come down on those people in its ranks who presume their religious beliefs and transphobic attitudes outweigh their solemn oaths to do no harm and take care of all patients who seek their services.

And the point also needs to be driven home to the medical profession that 'all patients' includes trans people as well.

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