Day in the Life: Hospitals

This is going to be the first post tagged “MyStories.” These posts are going to deal with personal experiences of mine, stories of things I have gone through. I will be posting these to give the readers an idea of what it is like being trans. I’d love any feedback you guys would like to offer, if I can make this section somehow easier to relate to.

As some of you know, I was admitted to the Emergency Room a few nights ago. It took my significant other three hours to convince me to go, despite the fact I was in severe pain the entire time. The reason for my reluctance had nothing to do with the diagnosis or prognosis I would receive. It had nothing to do with a fear of pain, of needing surgery, or of risk to my life. No, the reason I refused emergency care that I really needed was fear of discrimination. I knew for being transsexual  I could be hurt, insulted, mocked, stared at, and mistreated for being who I am; just for being who I am, for being different.

There are numerous stories out there of paramedics letting transsexual people die rather than treat them, just because of their gender variance. Stories of doctors allowing these patients suffer, refusing medicine, and so forth. I know things have been improving, that there has already been a lot of progress, and that there were decent chances I would be safe. But I knew there would still be some forms of discrimination and discomfort.

There are also numerous complications to my visit. I am pre-op, as in, I haven’t had any sort of surgery. I also have not had a legal name change. My gender marker on my license though says Female.

My partner and I walked (limped) to the front desk of the emergency desk. I gave them my old name, the male name on my insurance information. I waited to see their confusion, but I was shocked they did not seem too disturbed. They mentioned specifically they would not call out my name, which was reassuring, as I did not have to worry about the awkward, disturbed, confused glances of others in the waiting room when that name is called and I stood up. The nurse who did my entrance exam was even more amazing. She asked the problem, so I said I was transsexual, then explained the problem quickly. Usually when people hear me come out, there is a pause; confusion as they try to rectify their preconceptions of transsexuals with the woman who is standing before them. This nurse though had no pause. She did not even blink when I came out, and promptly went on to asking about my conditions. I was amazed, and felt so welcomed.

I was sent back to the waiting room, though now I was far more comfortable . I was called up again and a nurse led my partner and I to the room I would be staying with. The male nurse was very obviously and stereotypically gay. Some would use the phrase “flamboyant.” He was very friendly, and I felt relaxed to have someone who obviously would have been at least tolerant. He even had a rainbow pin on his name tag. Seeing these familiar things set me at ease.

I became suddenly uncomfortable as the nurse used male pronouns and my legal name. My significant other very politely, but sternly told the nurse and later the doctor that I was a woman, my name was Ashley, and I prefer female pronouns. The staff from then on tried to be sympathetic about the name, but in almost every case they would use male pronouns. Each time they did, I would be hurt, and make me uncomfortable. Even if it is not intended to hurt, people insisting I am male attacks who I am. It tells me “You are not a real girl.” “I will put up with you pretending to be a woman, but you’re still a he.” In many cases, they will say she to my face, then turn around and insist he to their coworkers.

Luckily, the pain medication soon dulled my senses. Things after that point are rather blurry. I remember many confused expressions and glances, but at least the doctor and the nurse who saw me were kind, and my significant other was there, so I was able to cope. Had I been alone, and had I been given a homophobic nurse, the experience would have been difficult, and extremely dangerous. I probably would not have gone. In this case, that might not have been terrible, but if I had needed stitches, needed emergency care, not going would have made everything much worse. Fear that keeps people from seeking help that should have nothing to do with who they are is just wrong, and it’s something we all need to work on.

If there are any staff of Lancaster General Hospital reading this blog, thank you for your awesomeness

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1 Comment

  1. Dee

     /  April 6, 2011

    Hi Ashley… clearly people like myself (straight) need to to be educated about these sort of things , as many choose not to ask questions or know anyone personally living as you do. It’s difficult to realize the predictaments that arise, in a simple
    emergency room visit, or for that matter any dr.’s office visit. I commend you for taking it upon yourself to educate, people like me, who are educated in many ways, but not in everything. I have a question for you though, and I ‘m not necessarily meaning you, but in general, do most trans-sexuals eventually get the sex changing surgery, or do they prefer to be both? again, please do not take my question wrong, as I just feel like I do not know much about this. Thanks and I hope you are feeling better soon.
    Dee OConnor


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