“Recently when I went to West Jefferson hospital, I had something happen. I gave the woman my ID. She scanned it and pulled it up big. I could see the reflection of her screen in the window behind her and she didn’t know. She then pointed to my gender marker to show a guy and they made a face. So, I made a big fuss, “I see what you are doing!” It put me in a weird position.
I left and went to another hospital.”
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect in a health care setting! There is a common knowledge that there is a history of trans people suffering mistreatment in medical settings. Care settings are improving as more doctors, mental health providers, and educators become more aware of the specific needs of trans individuals. You can ask medical professionals if they have had training on how to care for trans people. You are the person who best knows what you need, and it is important that you are able to communicate your medical needs to health professionals. Here are a few tips and links that can help you:
- Know your rights! There are websites and documents like this one that can help you learn about the rights you have to non-discrimination.
- Every medical facility and agency are required to have a “patients’ rights and responsibilities”. If you feel as though you are being treated unfairly, ask for a copy and seek immediate action based on the standards they have set for themselves in the document. This is an example of a local hospital, UMC, and their patient rights and responsibilities: https://www.umcno.org/patients-visitors/i-m-a-patient/patient-rights-and-responsibilities/
- You should not have to train your provider about gender identity. Seek culturally competent (people who know how to work with and for trans people) providers who have training in trans care.
- How can you AND doctor achieve your goals? It is important to work together.
- If you have the option of a medical setting with case management services, like a gender clinic, this can help you with having more information and other individuals with knowledge on care systems that will work better for your needs.
- Know what your insurance covers and also that insurances will look at all requests for services cases on a “needed” basis. Insurance is often a negotiation or deal-making. This is how you and your doctor can work together for your needs.
- If you have Medicare, this is the coverage information for trans people: https://transequality.org/know-your-rights/medicare
- If you have access to the internet, look up the coverage specific to gender care by your insurance: This is an example of one of many insurance companies: http://www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/600_699/0615.html
- If you are denied coverage you can file appeals, all insurance plans have a way to file appeals. This process is mostly the same, no matter what insurance you have. Here is an example of the process: https://www.medicare.gov/claims-appeals/how-do-i-file-an-appeal
- You can also consult with a lawyer about appeals to help: https://transequality.org/issues/resources/trans-legal-services-network-directory
- Ask around, find out about agencies and providers who other trans people recommend and have had experience with. Know the agencies like Louisiana Trans Advocates who are always compiling information to share. https://ltadraft2018.squarespace.com/health-care-providers
Key points to bring up with your doctor or nurse:
- I have had unprotected sex.
- The gender(s) of my sex partners.
- The parts of the body I use for sex.
- The number of sex partners I have had.
- I think or know my partner(s) may have had other sex partners while with me.
- The last time I was tested was over a year ago or the last time I was tested was before I had unprotected sex.
- I know I have a right by law to get these tests as part of my wellness visit.
- I know I have a right by law to get these tests if I’ve had unprotected sex.
- Even if I don’t have symptoms, I want to know if I carry any of these infections, because I don’t want to pass infections on to other people.
- AND if you have ANY discomfort during sex, let your doctor or nurse know. Sex should not be uncomfortable.