Dear Homophobic and Transphobic Healthcare Providers,
When I first read this article, I was (to say the very least) appalled. Although, now that I reconsider it, I think that before the “appalled” and “disgusted” reactions came about, my initial reaction was one more of confusion than anything else. I mean, this couldn’t possibly be a real article that was written about something that happened in our society, right? We’re making so much progress with this whole ‘accepting different people’ thing, and our doctors and nurses are way ahead of the rest of us, aren’t they? I recall thinking that this must have been an outdated article that I was just now seeing, and checking the date only to find that it was posted a few days ago. The very concept that a person would be denied healthcare simply because his “biological body did not match his identification on the form” was just nauseating; it was upsetting not only for the “equality when?” side of things, but also because the fact that such an egregious error was able to occur in our medical facilities is just plain terrifying.
The first thing that I noticed about this was that the supposedly “professional” physician who initially found the tumor in Kallio claims that the reasoning behind his profound lack of professionalism was, as noted above, that he was flustered by the difference between the physical body and the identification on Kallio’s form. I have to just call bullshit on that. Why am I jumping so readily to this judgment? I’ll tell you: 1) Paperwork errors happen a lot. The first thing that the physician should have done was consult Kallio about his chosen identification and made sure that he indeed did mark the correct box (which is a stupid concept in and of itself, in my opinion, but that’s for a different post). 2) As a physician in the 2010s, you should certainly be prepared to come across transgendered individuals. It’s something in which the medical profession should be, and in many other cases is, well-versed. 3) The diagnosis was for breast cancer, which (Hello!) can be found in biological men. It’s not as if the physician found ovarian cancer in Kallio. If you’re going to be shocked by finding breast cancer in a man, you really need to hand in your prescription pad, right now!
The second thing that I notice is that this article was not written about just one solitary case. As it reports, this kind of malpractice (Let’s call it what it is, people!) is quite prominent. The chilling example they gave of Tyra Hunter’s experience was particularly unsettling; yet, I know that she was just one of many transgendered individuals who has faced such discrimination in our medical facilities today.
The article closes by pointing out that “the [Affordable Care Act] law stops short of requiring insurance coverage, but does require basic respect.” Words cannot express how disappointed I am that this sentence is valid enough to be written in a published article. The fact that our society is still able to deny people health insurance because they are transgendered is heartbreaking. Perhaps even more heartbreaking is the fact that we needed to write a law to gain basic respect for a group of people. Respect is not something that should need to be written down in legal terms. It’s not something that the judicial system should have to enforce. It’s not a legal right, it’s a human right. And, furthermore, it’s some thing that humans should give willingly; particularly in hospitals and clinics, in situations where the patient is quite literally putting their life in the hands of the medical professionals that work there.
So, to you doctors and nurses out there who think it’s totally okay to play the “they checked the wrong box” card when you screw up, please know that it’s really, really not. It’s not okay to deny health care to people because they confuse you. I know that they’re far deeper people than you are, and that they probably have a much better awareness of themselves and the world, but really they’re just people like you; it’s not that confusing. Trust me, you’ll figure it out! A good carpenter never blames their tools, a good physician never blames their paper-work, and a good person never blames their differences. If you’re going to deny someone healthcare just because you don’t think they identified themselves as the correct gender, then you really should lose yours license and be locked up far, far away from the rest of the world, because quite frankly we’re better off without you. Your behavior in cases like Kallio’s and Hunter’s makes me sick - but if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather get care from a doctor who understands what it is to be human, and not just what it means to be a biological man or woman.