By Morgan Dunlop, CBC News
After years of self-questioning, hormone treatments and surgery, Chase
Ross, 22, is now legally a man.
Ross was born a woman but always felt like something wasn’t quite right.
After finding a network of transgendered people online, Ross figured out
what was wrong.
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“I realized this has to be my life. This has to be me for me to be happy,”
Since coming out as a transgendered person, Ross has discovered that some
of the hardest things to deal with are the most unexpected — like what
happens at a visit to the doctor’s office.
Tips for transgendered people seeking medical treatment
• Prepare what you are willing to talk about.
• Prepare a response for questions you’re not willing to answer. For
example: “If we could focus on only the parts of my medical history that
are relevant to this complaint, I would feel much more comfortable. “
• Come with an open mind. Each medical professional is an individual.
• If you’re denied service, send a letter alerting the medical
“To add on to society’ s hate, you have to deal with the doctor — the people
you’re supposed to trust. It’s not fun,” he says.
Ross says he’s routinely asked irrelevant questions about his sexuality,
name change and genitals.
However, he says one of the worst experiences was being refused treatment
during a recent visit to a psychiatrist.
“She basically just went off on how she doesn’t know how to deal with
anything trans-related, because it’s not her field of expertise. That kind
of hurt because I wanted immediate help,” says Ross.
As an advocacy worker with Concordia University&# 39;s Centre for Gender
Advocacy, Gabrielle Bouchard counsels hundreds of transgendered people in
Montreal. She says Ross’s experience is not unique.
The most common complaints she hears include medical professionals refusing
to address a patient as the gender he or she identifies with, asking
invasive and unnecessary questions, and — in some cases — refusing
“People will say, ‘I would rather die than go back and be misgendered or
feel unsafe. So I will die of pneumonia before I will go back to the
hospital,’ ” says Bouchard.
The head of the Gender Variance Program at the Montreal Children’ s
Hospital, Dr. Shuvo Ghosh, agrees with Ross and Bouchard.
He says transgendered people often face hurdles in accessing services
because health care professionals feel uncomfortable in their presence.
As a member of the McGill University teaching faculty, Dr. Ghosh says there
is little sensitivity training for health care professionals when it comes
to treating transgendered people.
“The trans population is the last really, truly marginalized group that’s
being prevented from getting adequate health care. It’s biases and
prejudices about what a trans person is, and that completely clouds any
proper clinical judgments,” says Dr. Ghosh.
If people in the transgender community refuse to seek medical attention, it
will inevitably burden the system by flooding hospital emergency rooms with
complaints that could have been prevented, Ghosh says.
Ghosh says medical professionals can help improve the situation by making
their patients feel comfortable and explaining why they’re asking relevant
However, he says it will likely be up to transgendered people to advocate
for themselves. He says anyone who is denied service or made to feel
uncomfortable should send an official letter of complaint to the health
Copyright © CBC 2013
http://www.cbc. ca/news/canada/ montreal/ transgendered- people-face- strife-at- the-doctor- s-office- 1.1959100