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Post-Op Encounters: Public, Legal, & Medical

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Who decides anyone's identity?"  It always feels best to me when I am not the one actively declaring my identity--instead, it is those who meet or interact with me who automatically identify me as just another woman.  There are two types of encounters that generally complicate this new norm I've been happy to have experienced with the general public for nearly a decade.  These encounters have to do with the legal system and the medical system. 


Legal System:

I can best summarize these encounters by inserting a letter I recently sent to the ACLU of Ohio:


"I was always so thankful when it became possible to change the sex marker on an Ohio drivers license.  However, I have had years of bad experiences because of the fact that my old information apparently still pops up instantly for anyone with access to my driving record.


I first realized this when trying to sell a trailer with a years old license that I had never renewed.  As I told the clerk at the BMV that it might still be under a different name, she said she already saw it.  This instance made me aware, but caused no harm.


A couple years later, I tried to fight a speeding ticket in court (Xenia, OH) and the judge did not just pull up my record for the previous 3 years--he cited my driving history from over a decade prior!  Of course that should have been irrelevant to the case being heard at the time.  But he not only found me guilty of the original speeding charge, he also added an additional charge of wreckless driving!


An even more blatant case of injustice occurred when I was a victim of road rage and was being chased by a truck that had already sideswiped my car.  I was on the phone with police trying to get them to meet me so I wouldn't have to stop and be confronted by the madman.  We finally met in a Kroger parking lot and they had me sit and write out a report of what happened as they went back to talk to the crazy man in the truck.  Incredibly, I saw them left him leave before I was even finished writing!  They commented that the damage to my car looked like something from Mad Max, but still filed no charges against the man in the truck!  When I asked if they would be able to at least keep my personal information out of the other drivers hands, they said I had a CCW, as if I was supposed to use my own gun to protect myself if the guy showed up at my house!


A week later, I was in Indiana to see a lawyer about gaining guardianship of my mother so I could have her move in with me and take care of her, my brother's wife grabbed my phone right out of my hand, went out and threw it at a passing pick up truck, then called the police on me after her and two men tried to surround my car and prevent me from leaving!  Instead of driving back home, I tried to find the local police station and ended up flagging down an officer.  In the mean time, my sister-in-law had told the police that I was scaring my mother by being "cross dressed" in front of her since I was really a man!  I was arrested with my legal handgun in my waistband, then I spent most of the night in solitary confinement after being interrogated about whether I was "transformed" into a woman!


I was also fired on the spot in the middle of a week long substitute teaching job, after the principal had my license plate ran to find out who the car belonged to where I was parked.  This same principal, at Waynesville High School, was a known homophobe whose next position was strongly opposed by GLSEN and other organizations.  So while I can't prove his motivations, there is no doubt what triggered my instant firing after he ran my plates.


At my current job, I was called to move my car in the parking lots so they could have spots open for an event.  Of course this leaves me feeling totally 'outed' even at my newest place of employment.


And most recently, after more than 3 years of harassment from my newest neighbor, I requested all the police reports concerning issues with that neighbor and the latest one list both my legal name and my dead name in the same report!  


So is it really necessary for that old information to instantly pop up with a check of my drivers license or licence plates even all these years later?  Will it be this way for the rest of my life?  If so, I will always have good reason to be leary of bigoted police officers or anyone else who has access to my driving records?


Desi B"



Medical System:

I understand and do not disagree with the arguments that it would be best to be able to be totally open during all medical encounters whenever medical history comes up.  And in the beginning, that is what I tried.  But it led to my primary care physician refusing to do a prostate exam and eventually informing me that she could no longer accept me as a patient because I needed a specialist (which did not even exist anywhere nearby).  Being open about my complete medical history just led to confusion when another doctor at the VA sent me for a DEXA scan and included the non-medical term "transgender" in the order.  The lab tech was just totally confused about whether I had already transitioned to female or if I was female getting ready to transition to male . . . It did not help at all.  So they ran the test with both sets of ranges (male and female).  Did it make a difference?  No.  I was within normal ranges on both scales.  So I just decided not to bring it up any more unless I could think of a reason why it would matter.  Since then I've had several medical encounters and have been treated perfectly well as a post-menopausal woman with a complete hysterectomy.  I've had kidney stones and the results of my first abdominal scan reported "evidence of hysterectomy."  So I just went with it and had no problems for many years to follow. 


I've had my gall bladder removed, colonoscopy & endoscopy, lumpectomy in right breast, ureteral stents, etc.  Not once was there ever any trouble with placing a catheter.  Then recently, I had a recurrence of issues from Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD).  I ended up going in for another c-spine surgery and went back to the same surgeon who had performed my previous c-spine surgery pre-transition.  From all my past experiences with surgeries, I knew that I could go pick up a copy of the surgery report.  Between that and the person who drove me to the hospital and waited for me, I learned that there was a delay of over two whole hours for the following reason: 


"History is also significant for gender reassignment surgery which caused OR delays for foley placement by urology. . . . Urology consult was called and foley was placed by Dr. W**** due to difficult anatomy s/p gender reassignment surgery."


Wow!  So today I had my first follow up visit and took in the following note I had typed up:


"Placing a catheter is not a difficult task.  You don't even have to be a registered school nurse to do it (let alone a Medical Doctor).  Many parents do it for their own children with special-needs.  Many adults perform self-catheterization.  And I know that my anatomy has never caused delays or difficulty in any of these recent procedures listed below.  Nothing in my anatomy is out of place or in any way deformed so as to create complications with inserting foley catheters into my urethra.  I have been told that my urethra is larger than average, but this actually makes it easier to access--not more difficult.  If anyone on 1/21/20 claimed to have had any difficulty inserting a catheter after I was unconscious, such difficulty must reflect either a professional incompetence or a personal bigotry."  


The nurse practitioner replied that they would certainly have to do a better job on that issue in the future.  So we'll see.  I just find it so disturbing that for the rest of my life it will be my job to educate any medical personnel I encounter--either that or just go to providers who don't know my complete history and therefore have no reason for being confused about how to treat me.

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Wow you really have had a pile of crap dumped on you by both organizational institutions.  I am truly sorry you experienced any of that.  It sounded horrible.  

I feel luck to live in a state that is very trans friendly and has many protective laws for LBGTQ+++ folks.  

I have had zero issues but I am still early in my transition and my only issue is being mis-gendered.  Which I have been impressed by all the medical professionals I see as they do not miss this part at all once they know your preference.  One nurse called me sir once and turned with a shocked look on her face like she stabbed me accidentally.  I told her it was ok but she felt terrible.  

I still have many of these hardships ahead I am sure.  I knew I was getting into a difficult life when I decided to stop hiding and be myself but the things you have gone through is just wrong.

One would think that since you legally change your identity and all legal documents that your dead name and previous gender identity would be a thing of the past if your information is ever needed by any professionals.  Apparently not.

But I suppose its not a perfect world either.  Not that its an excuse but it is reality.

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I'm sorry that did sound like a huge dump all at once.  And it truly is always lurking in the background.  But the vast majority of face to face encounters I have with people are actually quite nice.  That's what I hold onto and it sustains me.  Negativity can be infectious, but so can positivity. 

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