Three quick updates.
In March I posted the letter I sent UCSF about my experience in the ER last September. After a few emails and an hour long phone conversation with the head of patient relations, I found myself pacing around outside the School of Nursing waiting for 8am to roll around. I had been invited to sit on a panel of transgender patients at a training aimed at front of the house staff on transgender health. I hadn’t realized how nervous I was until I was sitting outside watching streams of young doctors and professionals file into an otherwise quiet building clutching their morning coffee. [Aside: I always assumed that my docs who wore scrubs were clean, but I saw so many scrub-wearing folks wandering around outdoors. Normal?]
The lecture hall was packed. I sat down in the second row inconspicuously until the woman in the row ahead turned around and recognized me. It helped that I was a grad student too, but when I mentioned that I studied sea slugs, we had to figure out where else we may have crossed paths. She asked if it was from the Lexington. Being recognized from lesbian spaces by strangers is still complicated. It’s one of the few times I find myself questioning my continued navigation within these spaces – it’s a different experience questioning if I’m “man enough” when I embrace the safety and community of a lesbian bar while fearful of being “she-ed”.
The workshop had three parts.
Part one was a mini trans-101 lead by a transgender UCSF doctor, and she completely nailed it with the crowd – folks were comfortable asking very vulnerable questions. Sitting (almost) anonymously in the audience gave me the chance to figure out what I was going to talk about during my initial 10 mins. Part two was a role play demonstrating scenarios that may happen at the front of the house with trans patients that go wrong, and then how to turn them around. Part three was the trans patient panel. I was disappointed that I was the only person color on the panel, and framed my identities, spoke of my privilege, and the need for recognition that other communities may have different priorities for what safe and accessible health care looks like. Being in a room full of medical staff, students and faculty at the first of what looks to be many of these types of trainings with folks who genuinely care about making trans health better, was incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the negative experience I had last fall. Also SF folks who go to UCSF, get ready for some exciting changes.
In most of this video, I give an update on my testosterone contamination. It’s hard for me to report on the disappointment I’ve felt from my own community, and even harder to announce that for now, I’m not following this one through. Today I received a form email from the Transgender Law Center in regards to my initial request for advice that said they’ve had too many requests and to please see their website for advice. If I still needed assistance after that, they asked me to re-submit a request. I want to look at this as an example of how stretched thin transgender resources are. It feels horrible to admit defeat. I feel disappointed in myself for accepting that I deserve this. This really allowed me to experience one aspect of the powerlessness trans individuals experience in circumstances like these – where trans-friends, trans-medical provides, cis-medical providers, and now trans-legal providers all either don’t have the bandwidth to help, or tell me that I should be happy that it wasn’t worse or stood up for the pharmacy that made this mistake because they’re the only affordable option for many trans individuals to get hormones. To the people responsible for this mistake and the incredibly poor response to it, I hope you appreciate the emotional, physical and psychological damage you inflicted on me and countless other transmen, and the fact that many of us are between a rock and hard place when it comes to healthcare, so we will continue to rely on you for our hormone treatments. I do. This mistake was a big deal. I’m angry it happened, and I feel a lot of hate towards you, for acting like the damage it caused us is only worth a replacement prescription with no apology, but more for creating a situation where others who I rely on for emotional support and health care also let me down. Hopefully you’ll learn to do better.
The Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference came and went. It was incredible being back there almost a year now post-op, and seeing old friends, reconnecting with even older friends, and meeting new ones. It wasn’t without its issues of course. Of particular note to my concerns is that they rejected the STEM workshop this year, a workshop that was attended by over 100 trans folks in all areas of STEM education and research. It reconfirms the desperate need for trans science education, activism, and community. (I’m writing this post from yet another conference right now on Advancing LGBTQ Initiatives Across Higher Education thanks to a friend who also believes in this).
That’s it for now. Over and out.