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Case #6

If I Get Sick With COVID-19, Don’t Tell My Doctor I’m Transgender

If you were hospitalized for a severe illness, would you trust the ICU doctors with access to your complete medical history? In theory, of course, all of us should feel able to answer yes. Doctors need complete, accurate information about a patient’s history to make the best possible decisions about that patient’s care. But what if stigmatizing info in some charts led them to deprioritize the patient because they do not value some aspect of that person’s identity?

For transgender patients, as well as patients with other stigmatizing information in their medical pasts, there’s reason to fear that an accurate medical history could lead to worse treatment, not better. In fact, just this week, the Trump administration’s health department is apparently moving to finalize a rule that would roll back Obama-era protections on LGBTQ discrimination in health care settings. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, this has me thinking dark thoughts about what I would, and would not, want a doctor treating me for COVID-19 to know. As a trans person, I’ve experienced medical discrimination firsthand. After a recent move, I struggled to find a doctor willing to prescribe the hormone treatments I’d already been on, by then, for more than two years. For the first six months, I drove three hours to a Planned Parenthood clinic to find a doctor who’d prescribe my meds. Eventually I found a doctor closer to home, but it’s not ideal: He regularly asks me prurient, nonmedical questions about my transition, including, in one instance, asking what my “cup size” was. There are far worse horror stories than mine. In fact, I’ve found doctor’s appointments go easier if I avoid disclosing my transition history whenever possible. I get quicker, more professional care if we skip the apparent distraction my transition presents. Read the full article on Slate by Evan Urquhart

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