This blog is about gender and all its intricacies… I will be blogging about latest research, reflections from my work with gender non-conforming and transgender clients, as well as information about resources.
I finally watched the documentary “Southern Comfort”; it’s one I’ve been meaning to watch for years. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone trying to find out more about the trans community, but it addresses a VERY important topic. It’s the story of a Female to Male transgender individual named Robert Eads, who died from ovarian/cervical cancer after being refused medical treatment and Home Care Assistance. It shocks and saddens me that anyone in the medical field would refuse to treat someone in need of help, regardless of their race, gender identity, social status, anything… and as recently as 1999!
The main reason the doctors cited not wanting to treat him was that it might make the other patients in the waiting room uncomfortable or that treating him would damage their reputation. As a result, over the course of the movie you see a very vibrant and loving person diminish and then pass away.
However, I’m not necessarily writing this blog about the outrage of refusing to treat a trans individual medically. The main reason I chose to write this is to remind trans men: if you still have a cervix, ovaries, or a uterus, you are at risk for cancer in these areas! I know reading this, thinking about this, or talking about this is just about the last thing you want to do, and many trans men avoid the tests for these cancers like the PLAGUE. Having a pap smear is an uncomfortable experience at best for most women. For trans men, I can only begin to imagine how awkward/humiliating/discouraging having to go to one of these appointments must be. PLEASE GO ANYWAY. It’s better to feel like you’re going to die of embarrassment then to actually die of cancer. Yes, I am trying to scare you into going. To quote Mr. Eads himself, “The last part of me that is female is killing me.”
I have a couple of practitioners in San Diego to whom some of my trans male clients have gone for these types of exams, and have had nothing but nice things to say about the doctors. In addition to this, I have called both of these doctors’ offices and asked if they are open to having their names on my resource list for my trans male clients. They both said yes! Please see the bottom of this post for their names and contact information.
If you don’t have medical insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket for these providers, there are some low-cost clinics in San Diego that could perform these tests. If you don’t live in San Diego and you need help finding a place to go, email me and I will help you research this. Or, if you are too shy or scared to call a doctor’s office to find out if they would be trans-friendly, let me know! I will call for you. Client or not…even if I’ve never met you.
Once you have an appointment, one thing you can do to make the experience more comfortable is call the doctor’s office or clinic the morning of your appointment. If you are too nervous to do so, have a partner, family member, or trusted friend do it for you. You or they can let the front desk staff know who you are, what you will be seen for, and how you present so there is no confusion when you arrive. You may need to gently remind them they are to use male pronouns and your chosen name (if not yet legally changed).
One important point made in the documentary is that since Robert transitioned later in life, he was close to menopause. Because of this, he was advised he did not need to have his uterus and other female reproductive organs taken out. I believe the loose guideline for getting a hysterectomy after taking Testosterone is 5 years. If you are an existing client of mine and need a letter to have the hysterectomy performed, let me know.
The most important thing is that you don’t ignore this.
Come on, be a man… go get a pelvic exam!
For more information go to:
San Diego Providers:
Dr. Alisa Williams*
4060 Fourth Ave Ste 640
San Diego, CA 92103
*Dr. Williams also does hysterectomies
Dr. Laura Norton Petrovich
1224 10th St Ste 200
Coronado, CA 92118