I have read a lot of this genre – medical memoirs. According to Google, I have read literally almost all of them. I have noticed a pattern, and a problem, and I’m going to use this review space to make a request.
80% of these books follow a formula: author becomes a doctor, a bunch of funny/strange anecdotes from patient interactions or unusual cases. Some do it better than others, but if you stitched them all together into one huge book you’d probably barely notice the seams. You either enjoy the genre or you don’t. Reading an isolated book from it and reading nearly everything every written on the subject, you probably have two different perspectives.
The problem is transgender people, and I’m not sure I have the right words to convey how boiling mad I am about it.
As someone in the latter category, here’s the thing. Transgender patients should not be a funny anecdote simply by virtue of being transgender patients. Doctors, your lack of professionalism as you stumble over your words and ask “So, wait, are you a man or a woman?” is not fucking funny. Your lack of education as you try to comprehend what on earth gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy are is not fucking funny. Your snickering about your patient’s genitals is not fucking funny.
Why? Because there are at least 1.4 million transgender people in the United States, and if you are a doctor, or a nurse, or a phlebotomist, or a medical assistant, or a dentist, or a medical receptionist, you will encounter them. They know what you’re probably thinking. They know what you’re probably saying. And if you can’t act like an educated, respectful, professional adult, next time they need care, they may not come in. They may not go to the ER when their chest hurts and their arm goes numb. They may kill themselves rather than talking to someone about their depression. They may ignore a lump or a cough that won’t go away.
And you may never know about it, because maybe you’re the asshole doctor or the immature nurse or the rude receptionist who deliberately misgendered them or laughed at them when you thought they weren’t listening or even just pointedly raised your eyebrows while reading their chart and then changed your attitude toward them. You’re not going to be at their house while they’re deciding to take their chances with a brutal headache that turns out to be an aneurysm because they didn’t want to run into someone like you again. But trust and believe, their blood is absolutely on your hands if it happens. And it does happen.
This is not talked about enough. The discussion is about whether you’re “okay” with transgender people, or whether you “support it.” Keep having that conversation, I guess, if you are not a medical professional. If you are, your opinion does not matter. Leave it at home. Medical settings are vulnerable for absolutely everyone. You’re in a powerless position, you’re often sick or injured, you’re scared and uncertain, the lights are bright, you’re often barely dressed in an unflattering and revealing hospital gown, you’re engaging in a complex decision making process and determining whether to trust a stranger’s assessment or advice. Now imagine all of that, knowing that your body is a joke to be laughed at or scorned by the people you need medical care from.
So I’m asking you, begging you, if you are in any way in the medical profession, get your shit together if it’s not already. Don’t be responsible for someone being too intimidated to seek care in the future. Stop it. I have a transgender person in my life that I love very much, and I refuse to in any way validate a doctor who would seek to dehumanize him in a book. If I could walk into every medical setting on the planet to say this to everyone who works there and prevent him or someone else from being taken from my life due to this, I would. It has to stop.