Because we are not surgeons, nurses, or even hospital social workers, we have no interest in telling anybody how to perform brain surgery, take blood, or even file an insurance claim. We appreciate the dedication, hard work, and long hours that folx in the medical field put into their jobs, and while there is room for improvement within the field as a whole, we want to acknowledge the good things first. Pat yourselves on the back (unless you’re not very good at your jobs, in which case, we’d recommend looking for work elsewhere).
THAT BEING SAID…
Going to the doctor can be anxiety-inducing for a number of folx for a number of reasons, but for transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) individuals, it’s a whole other level of stressful. Trans and GNC folx have reported being misgendered frequently, multitudes of microaggressions, and an overwhelming lack of knowledge about trans and GNC bodies from medical providers. To avoid having these experiences (and for a myriad of other intersecting factors), many queer folx skip out on annual physicals, visits to their OBGYN, sick visits, and even teeth cleanings—it just isn’t worth the balderdash.
While medical professionals are tasked with taking care of all of the run-of-the-mill body stuff that most folx have to worry about, in addition, they are tasked with gatekeeping gender change letters, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Gender Confirmation Surgeries (GCS).
Unfortunately, many medical professionals didn’t receive any education about LGBTQIA+ issues in school, so when it comes to prescribing HRT, writing letters, or even having conversations that affirm a patient’s gender, many folx are clueless. We’ve heard countless stories about patients having to educate their doctors or nurses about pronouns, how much HRT to prescribe, and even what it means to be trans or GNC. While many folx can seek medical care elsewhere, some can’t (due to a plethora of possible circumstances), and therefore are tasked with bringing their doctor up to snuff.
In an effort to avoid any trans or GNC person ever having to educate their medical professionals about their bodies ever again, here’s a list of recommendations to make medical businesses and hospitals more inclusive to our kids:
Small changes can make massive impacts. While it would be amazing to have queer flags soaring majestically in every optometry office in America, we realize that it’s not always practical (but totally get one if you can). However, changing an intake form is something anybody could do to be more inclusive. For example, instead of asking for “Sex,” ask for “Gender Identity,” then leave a fill in the blank box for clients to self-identify. When you meet with them you can mark if they are AMAB (assigned-male-at-birth), AFAB (assigned-female-at-birth), or intersex in your notes (if it’s necessary to know)). Having a blank section for clients to list their pronouns is also crucial (check out our Pronouns tab for more information) for building relationships. Click here for further information and examples of how to make your intake forms more inclusive.
Gender Neutral Restrooms
When you think about what happens in a bathroom, it seems silly that they’ve caused so much political discord recently. When we’re in our own homes, we don’t segregate bathrooms, so why do we do it in public? Taking gendered signs off your restrooms not only creates an inclusive environment for gender non-conforming patients, it also removes a potential area for conflict. We recommend this approach for single stall and multi-stall restrooms, because at the end of the day, everybody poops, so why are we separating people into different rooms based on their perceived genitalia?
Train your staff. Everybody in medical offices should have up-to-date training about LGBTQIA+ issues. If having a physical trainer come into your space is cost prohibitive or not possible for whatever reason, encourage your staff to thoroughly read through our website. It may not be fancy curriculum, but at least it’ll help them empathize with what trans and GNC kids are going through.
First and foremost, if a patient comes in wanting HRT, it doesn’t matter how they present, it’s not your job to decide if they’re “trans enough” to qualify. They’ve thought long and hard about starting hormone replacement therapy—whether it be for mental health or physical changes—and withholding that prescription would be cruel. Current research, conducted by medical professionals who work exclusively with trans and GNC patients, recommends supporting the transition process because the psychological effects of denying a person the right to transition could be life-threatening.
Soapbox soliloquies aside, science isn’t our thing, so click here for a guide on prescribing HRT. Generally speaking, unless the person has already had GCS, you should prescribe some combination of blockers and testosterone or estrogen. Some transfeminine folx may ask about Progesterone, which generally speaking, has very little research to back up its effects. The goal of Progesterone is to make the breasts grow rounder, for a less cone-shaped look. Like any other medication, side effects are possible. If clients want more information about Progesterone, you can refer them to YouTube or Reddit.
Listing somebody on your website as an ‘LGBTQIA+ Liaison,’ or whatever title feels appropriate, can be a huge step toward making queer folx feel welcome; it shows that you’ve thought about our care and are prepared to provide excellent medical services. This person would need to be adequately trained, and could provide medical staff with culturally competent suggestions for talking about queer healthcare with patients.
Regardless of who’s president, protections within the healthcare system for LGBTQIA+ folx are fairly volatile. For whatever reason, some people who say they got into medicine to ‘help people’ have a built-in asterisk that excludes queer folx and other marginalized communities because they feel like our sub-human community is undeserving of compassionate medical care. We are very obviously unbiased on this issue.
An inclusivity statement, more than any rainbow flag swag, is an indication that a medical establishment is safe for folx in the LGBTQIA+ community (as long as the medical professionals follow through with it). Knowing that we will be cared for and that our gender identities will be affirmed is critical to feeling safe in any space. An inclusivity statement is a demonstration of basic human decency, and should be visible in every medical office, department store, Starbucks, and grocery store across the country (literally everywhere).
For more information about making your office or hospital more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ individuals, please feel free to contact us.