January 9, 2013
I was still mostly committed to taking a social media break when I saw that #TransDocFail was trending with some people I follow on twitter.
I’m still not sure what the motivation was or how the conversation started (but I can’t help but think that it might be related to the recent UK scandal). It doesn’t really matter at this point.
What matters, was that many trans people were sharing some quite painful and, tbh, horrific stories about how they’ve been treated by medical professionals. The experiences ranged from relatively mild misgendering to outright physical and/or sexual assault. All of the experiences. All of them. Are fucking awful.
Especially awful not just because they are happening at the hands of and being committed by people we grow up being told to trust, but because accessing health services is essential. Especially for a vulnerable and marginalized population. Even more so if you operate with multiple axes of oppression.
Some of us need trans specific health care to live. They are necessary. Even for those of us who may not need it quite so bad, it says something quite awful about the state of things such that calculations have to be maid between how much current mental pain your are in versus the abuse you are likely to receive if you seek medical intervention.
This is the situation we are in.
Later on, some people decided to disrupt this necessary discussion with a feel good ‘positive’ #TransDocWin to present the ‘other side.’ In many ways this is a classic derail of “not all x are y”. Strip away all the false positivity and this is what we are left with. Except… it misses the point. Especially when medical professionals were participating in the conversation and they, more than anyone, needed to hear the stories being told.
As much as I fucking loathe the idea that people’s painful, lived experiences are used as educational fodder for privilege fucks who somehow managed get through all of medical school without obtaining a basic understanding that we are human beings (with bonus human bodies!)… it was one of the values that yesterday’s discussion had to offer.
Diluting it with some bogus feel good shit misses the fucking point and makes it harder for that value to be derived.
Now. I now some people wanted these stories because they (I’m no different) were at the beginning of their process and are afraid. And the stories make it harder. But…
Couldn’t we have had that conversation today? One major value (for us, those who matter most) of yesterday’s conversation is knowing that we aren’t alone. That if we have a terrible experience with a doctor, we will have people to turn to, who will commiserate, and support us, who will encourage us. Another takeaway is seeing just how… powerful and amazing we are to survive despite the outright desire for much of the medical industrial complex to erase our existence.
More importantly, I don’t doubt that some of the people who shared their traumatic stories found some solace, catharsis, and healing from yesterday’s discussion. These are also the people who rightly desired to be front and centre of that discussion. Who deserved some space (fleeting) to speak up and out. And deserved to do with without some bullshit feel good “but both sides of the story” or “positivity”.
May you all heal from your trauma and, going forward, only deal with kind, gentle medical professionals.