I was going to post a piece I wrote on Thursday about gender identity, health, and hospital visits as someone with a loved one in the hospital, but it was written through half-mast eyelids and repetitive. The gist was this:
I am exhausted. I was and remain bone tired from worry, care, and hospital visits, but my family and I are all better than we would have been had my father received lower quality and less compassionate healthcare. We are exhausted from this sudden journey into the serious side of the healthcare system, but one thing that has lowered our stress levels is the way my dad has been treated. When we waited in the surgical waiting room with our noses in books or eyes on the still-bare deciduous trees in the courtyard, we were at the mercy of the surgeons working on his heart in the operating room. When we stood in my dad’s critical care or general cardiological unit rooms lacking any medical expertise of our own and deferring to every single doctor, nurse, physical therapist, and dietary ambassador who came in, we were at their mercy. We were, it seemed, at the mercy of everyone helping my heavily wired and IV-clad dad. And thankfully, they were excellent.
We felt powerless, but knowing my dad was in good hands made us all healthier.
What if my dad was trans? FtM, MtF, or genderqueer? Would he have received the same level of care? I think we live in one of the best cities for trans individuals, but even if hospital workers meant well, I’m sure he would have had to deal with some uncomfortable looks and questions. A stressor that does someone with a serious heart problem no favors. If he were trans, would my dad have even visited a doctor in January or February? Would anyone have caught the aneurysm before it burst? From what I understand, aortas are normally as wide as a garden hose. The morning of surgery, surgery he was scheduled for as a priority patient, his aorta was the size of a large fist. A time bomb defused how long before detonation?
Les, I think about how your life could have been longer if you’d had access to gender-inclusive medical care. How early your tick bit could have been caught and treated before you developed Lyme Disease. How even if it hadn’t been caught in time, you probably still would have been able to achieve a higher quality of life had you been able to reach out to a physician knowing they wouldn’t mistreat you because of your gender identity and presentation.
I want to live in a world where every individual, regardless of their identity, receives healthcare as compassionate, competent, and respectful as the care my dad received this week.
My dad’s life was saved on Tuesday. I am thankful.