Healthcare Experiences of People with a Diverse Gender and Sexuality


(gentle guitar music) – I think that’s gotta go higher. – I’m gonna try those, what do you think? Better or worse? – All right, okay, well see how it goes. – When I’ve seen health
care providers in the past, I’ve always felt really
uncomfortable going in because I wouldn’t
really have the same GP. I’d just go into a clinic and see whoever I could at the time that was about billing and when I’d go in and they’d just ask the general questions like your age. And then it would get
to your sexual health and things like that and they’d be like, do you have a boyfriend? Just straight up, they would be like, do you have a boyfriend? They wouldn’t ask partner
or anything else like that. That would make me feel
really uncomfortable and like they were generalizing me and making assumptions of me. A lot of the times I wouldn’t
want to answer that question. For a long time I wouldn’t
go to the doctor’s because of things like that, because I didn’t feel welcome or accepted. – One of my more negative experiences with a healthcare provider
was the psychiatrist because one of the questions he asked me was about my, whether I
had any sexual fantasies. He didn’t believe it when
I said I didn’t have any. He recommended that I
watch some pornography and I thought that to be a fairly odd recommendation to give. – In my experience with
healthcare providers, recently about the last
say, two-three weeks I disclosed to a healthcare worker that I was intersex and
her facial expression sort of dropped and I’m not quite sure whether it was because they were surprised or if they actually
knew what intersex was. Also, I’ve had a bit
of an issue with my GP, explaining my sexuality. As I think he’s more
ignorant and just chooses not to acknowledge there’s other genders other than male and female. I don’t really go and see him unless I’m dying or I have to. (laughing) So that’s pretty much it. – My experiences with
healthcare providers have been a bit mixed, a lot of assumptions, a lot of misunderstandings. I don’t feel safe, I don’t
feel safe to be myself. I feel like I’m required
to give an answer, I feel like I’m required to be female. The spikes on my back go up a little bit and I get quite conscious of where I am and that I’m not generally in a space that has an understanding
of being gender fluid, being queer, of being non-binary. Yeah, it doesn’t inspire me
to go back that often, so. Lucky I’m healthy.
(laughing) – So I’ve had some pretty bad experiences with healthcare providers
as both a queer woman and a trans woman. In fact I can probably count on one hand the good experiences I’ve had. The most common experiences,
generally what we call, trans broken arm syndrome. Where you go into hospital to
go see a doctor or whatever for a broken arm and it becomes
all about your hormones, your trans status, things that are utterly unrelated to the issue at hand and that’s frustrating as
I’m sure you can imagine. – There’s this one medical
center that I go to and every time I go, I try a different GP because none of them have kind
of made me feel comfortable. When I got my new Medicaid
card, when I had my name changed I went up there and I was like,
this isn’t my name anymore. I’m here to update my
details and I sat down and waited in line for a
doctor and when the staff called me up again,
they said my dead name. They said my old name. You don’t want to get up
when someone says a name that doesn’t look like
it should belong to you and it was really awkward so, just felt like I was in
a zoo and these people had never seen a trans person before. So it was quite uncomfortable. – 10, 12 years ago, I
started kind of presenting with abnormal pap smears. When we’re in the waiting
room, waiting to maybe the professor to get the results, my mother made a comment
about using sex toys was probably the reason
why I was having these abnormalities which was completely absurd and totally hetero sexist and homophobic. Anyway, and I thought, fuck you. – So some of those experiences include being mis-gendered, being
told to remove binders when they were not imminently
affecting my health. Being asked to elaborate
on my gender identity or hormone treatments
that are not relevant to the illness that I was inquiring. For example, being on both
estrogen and testosterone and having a hysterectomy. – So when I came to Australia, and I accessed health services, I’d never felt that there was
any form of discrimination until I had discussions
with people outside of the clinic. I presented with an STI and the person, the doctor asked me how I identified, my sexual orientation. Before that, he sort of
assumed that I was straight. So I told him that I had sex with men and I could see his body
language had completely changed. – I went along to an appointment and the nurse that I encountered there not only was she rude, I
mean, it could have put my own health at risk. She looked me up and
down in an obvious way that made me feel uncomfortable and asked me if I was a woman or a tranny. Well, I mean hello? I’m here because I have breasts, wouldn’t matter what I was. I’m here with breasts and I have to say, even though I perceive
myself as a strong person I felt so uncomfortable I nearly left. – I was the lead in a musical,
it was very high stress environment and I was starting
to get sores on my body. My doctor, which was our
family doctor at the time questioned me about my sexual history and then come to the immediate conclusion that because I was
getting sores on my body, I was HIV positive and
that I had contracted AIDS. And so this was an assumption
that our family doctor had made that he disclosed the diagnosis over the phone when my father was on the
other end of the phone without any confidentiality. The assumption between being gay and AIDS, especially
using a term like AIDS in I guess it would have
been around 2001, 2002 to be totally discriminatory. – There was one time I was, I had a spinal injury
so I was laying inside the bed with the curtain over the top because I had a severe headache and I could hear the nurse
and the doctor talking behind the curtains saying that you know, they’re really confused about their gender so they don’t know what they are. So we just need to do a
medical exam to figure out what they are and that petrified me. I thought I was gonna
be assaulted, so I ran. – My experiences with
the healthcare providers have been mostly positive in my history. When my partner and I decided
we wanted to try for a baby, my GP found us a fertility specialist who she knew had done work
with LGBTIQ people in the past and our whole experiences
with that process has been fantastic and very positive and non-discriminatory. – I have great times
accessing healthcare services from it being at ACON where
I’ve gone to AIDS test and had my sexual health
checkups recently. That was just a great time, good laughs, good (mumbles), or every
time I go into the local Redfern AMS which is always a good time. I see mob, I see cousins, my auntie works behind the counter, it’s always a good time. – (vocalizing) – [Aid] I’ve had fantastic
experiences with healthcare providers, there’s never been any problem. Any doctor I’ve seen, any
nurse, they’ve really embraced that I’m deaf actually
and some of them have wanted to have a little
bit of a joke with me. A little bit of a tease with
me, now here’s a troublemaker you know, he’s deaf he’s up to no good. So we always have a little bit of a laugh, I feel quite a strong
bond with my experiences within the medical and
healthcare community. My access to prep for
example, has been really easy. Has been very clear communication. I’ve known exactly what’s been involved, the doctors and the nurses have all been on the same page as me. – Lately I’ve been seeing
some nurse they have down at ACON, which I
thought a bit more freely and able to talk about particular issues that I may need to discuss
other than a common cold or flu. – I have always made
sure that I told doctors and anyone else, look I’m a gay man and if you’re unhappy with that, you’re the wrong sort of
person to be treating with me and I’d like you to find
someone who can cope with a gay man. Next question, please. – There’s a lot of GP’s out there that they really don’t know much about the type of sex people are having. Especially within the LGBTIQ+ community. For example, just thinking a urine test and a throat swab was enough when obviously you know,
if I’m having sex with men I’m having anal sex so, just not asking if I need an anal swab for example. – So it would be really great, one of the things I’d really love to see is if, when I actually
went into the doctor there was a welcome here
sticker that I could, I would know there was at least some level of understanding there. – Really they should just listen. Listen to what you have to say, leave any prejudices at home. Act professionally, don’t ask questions that don’t need to be asked. Unless it’s absolutely
necessary for the treatment that you’re providing. – In terms of healthcare,
the best practice for inclusivity is non-judgment. (cheery mid-tempo music)

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