going to the doctorPosted: September 13, 2011
I read this article: Do Medical School Curricula Hypersexualize the LGBT Population? and started thinking about all of the stuff I’ve had to deal with at the doctor’s office with homophobic and underinformed providers and how I would like to see that change.
My experience is that when I go to the doctor especially for a yearly exam but really anytime they are all like BIRTH CONTROL BIRTH CONTROL BIRTH CONTROL and I basically have to come out just to get them to quit trying to give me oral contraceptives or whatever it is they’re going to push. I don’t really know what they’re going to go on about because I always kill the conversation at this point: what kind of birth control am I using? N/A. Somehow that’s not one of the little boxes you can check on the form.
And this has meant that I’ve had to deal with a lot of bullshit, because doctors are frequently not okay with my lack of interest in birth control and the related activity. I’ve had a couple of doctors tell me I was confused and would get over it and a rather horrible incident with a psychiatrist who insisted I was a virgin when I said I had sex with women. Usually I get more minor discomfort, like the doctor is trying to be cool but doesn’t really know how, and on the more extreme end there’s a palpable temperature drop: providers who have been friendly become distant. Instead of being a font of information, they have nothing to say at all.
This is especially uncomfortable if there’s a speculum involved.
I worry in this situation about being able to get real care, effective care, rather than essentially having them follow what looks like real procedure but in substance declining to treat me. I’ve had a couple providers who were cool, but only one who had any knowledge that there might be different health issues involved for lesbians and other queer women than for straight women beyond the difference in risk for cervical cancer.
I’d like to say more about this, but I really know next to nothing because my doctors never tell me anything about it.
Instead, I’m going to talk about what I’d like to see.
I’d like to see a doctor’s office as a safe space. I’m relieved that they ask me if I’m being beaten and I hope doctors will expand on this toward a more comprehensive safety evaluation. What I would like to see in this direction is better assessment of whether people are out, and what kind of pressures we’re under. Is it safe for us to be out in the world? Are there supportive people in our lives, or are we isolated? Especially for teens and people who are financially dependent on relatives due to disability or student status or just the current crappy economy, would being out to our families be safe for us? What would happen if we were outed? Are we being harassed at school or at work? Are there other religious or cultural issues having an impact here?
Are we having issues with a family member who is uninsured because our families aren’t recognized? What about other issues around lack of official status?
Are we being abused by a partner we can’t out?
These are questions I can’t imagine being asked at my doctor’s office, and as a white cis woman with a professional job I know there are a ton of other things I am missing. I am really interested in what other LGBT folks’ experiences of going to the doctor are like, and what improvements in care you would like to see.