Finding euphoria at the intersection of physical health, reproductive paths, and gender identity
By: Anonymous / Trans Headlines
Although progress seems slow, I do believe that healthcare is changing the way it recognizes LGBTQ patients. As an AFAB person who identifies as non-binary, going to the gynecologist’s office is literally the last place I want to be. After suffering severe abdominal pain and discomfort for three long months, it was time to face my fears. I had so many visions of how my first visit would go. It would be a demeaningly feminizing and humiliating experience–I was sure of it.
I walked into the exam room and sat on the table. You know, the table with the extendable leg rests and long metal stirrups. The one you’ve come across at annual physicals you thought would just be annual physicals–but to your surprise were a lot more invasive–kind of table. My new gynecologist came in and introduced herself. I was already sweating as I sat in nothing but a medical gown on the horribly uncomfortable (especially at a gyno visit) crinkly paper.
What came next was nothing short of pure euphoria. SHE ASKED FOR MY PRONOUNS. Maybe you’d like to hear this again and, to be honest, I’d like to say it again. My gynecologist actually asked for my chosen pronouns. At this point, I thought maybe my anxiety had caused me to hallucinate.
She wrote a note to have my gender marker updated on my file and asked me what my preferred name was. I couldn’t believe it. I had prepared myself for every worst-case scenario I could possibly imagine, but I hadn’t prepared myself for this.
Now, keep in mind, all the forms that I had to fill out were still indicative of our cis-gendered, heteronormative healthcare system. However, at that moment, those two simple questions gave me incredible relief–not just for me, but to know that my doctor is doing her part to change the system for others like me. She was kind, informed, and genuinely concerned about my health. I had never felt so well-listened to by a healthcare provider.
My exam was still nothing short of uncomfortable and included a transvaginal ultrasound (0/10 do not recommend), followed by a lengthy conversation about my situation and my treatment options. I left with an answer for my abdominal pain, which turned out to be hemorrhagic cysts on both of my ovaries, and I felt (somewhat ironically) a huge amount of relief. My gender identity had been recognized and respected for the first time in a healthcare setting. I felt silly that I’d waited so long and put myself through prolonged pain, but I recognized that my fear was not ungrounded.
Healthcare providers are too often caught (or not caught) mistreating or misdiagnosing people in our community because they either don’t accept us or they haven’t educated themselves. It takes courage to go to the doctor knowing the experience could be humiliating and invalidating.
My gynecologist alleviated more than my anxiety about the intersection of my physical health and my gender identity. She changed my outlook on what’s possible for me and my partner, who is a trans man, when it comes to starting a family.
I had believed that being non-binary meant pregnancy was not in the cards for me. The thought of being pregnant for nine months sounded like putting myself through literal dysphoric hell and would subject me to feminizing rituals deeply rooted in our society’s warped expectations of gender roles. Most of all, I thought I’d never find a doctor who would support a non-binary pregnancy until I met this one.
I thought that by identifying as non-binary I had to give up the idea of having a baby, even though it’s something I have always wanted. Now that I have seen how healthcare is changing, I’m rethinking my future, and I’m taking better care of my body. An introduction that might have seemed simple for my doctor and my ally made me feel like I can exist exactly the way I am whether or not I still have the anatomy I was born with.
Maybe I will get pregnant someday, or maybe I’ll decide to get a hysterectomy. I have options now that I didn’t think I would ever have, and it feels empowering to take back the future that has always belonged to me.