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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Soul canceled out

I had an appointment with the only endocrinologist in town yesterday morning.

Not really -- it had been canceled back in November.

But I didn't know that.

So I bathe, put on fresh clothes and a fresh face, drive to work, open up the doors to our department in the Library, take my umbrella, walk over to the medical complex a few blocks away, find the doctor's suite, enter the waiting room, and wait among the other women for my turn with the receptionist.

She appears to be agitated about my being there.

I am called over, and in hushed tones, told that there has to have been some mistake. She looks over my papers, says, "Mm hmm," disapprovingly it seems to me, and points to the acronym "MTF" in my notes.

"He doesn't do that kind of work."

Our eyes lock. I am being dismissed. As nicely as she can manage it, but still...

The only endocrinologist that will touch me within a two-hundred mile radius is in Portland.

I leave meekly enough, but as I step out into the rain, I do cry a little. No enough so's anybody would notice.

I walk back to campus, and I walk to another world entirely, a place where I'm welcomed, appreciated for who I am and what I do, and where, by policy, I can use the restroom and even locker room of my choice, if I so desire. I cross an invisible line: it all looks the same, and yet nobody here (at least officially) thinks I'm not a person or don't have the right to exist. And, sure enough, I don't seem to be doing any harm ... here.

A fellow worker asks me to lunch. As we pass by the front desk, she says to the librarian on duty, "I'm taking this girl for a walk!" And it is a lovely walk, and a great lunch. She has made a five-course Chinese dinner in containers, and has them all with her in a print-fabric carryall, and zaps each container in the student-union microwave, then fills my plate with amazing things of which I do not know the name, but thoroughly enjoy. "Eat, eat! All this is good! Good for your whole body. Good for your soul."

But, still ... only if I have one.

I went to bed at 6:30 pm.

"He doesn't do that kind of work."

Tried reading a book by Carl Larsson. No help.

"He doesn't do that kind of work."

National Geographic. Nope.

"He doesn't do that kind of work."

Little Women. No.

"He doesn't do that kind of work."

I moved the pillows around, rearranged blankets, got up, got water, sorted some clothes, went back to bed, put a pillow under the backs of my knees, looked at the ceiling, and moped.

See, if he's a specialist and I'm not his specialty, OK. But it didn't sound like that was it. I felt a little bit disapproved of. Not really by her, very nice lady. But him. At one very safe remove. I felt as though someone I had never met, and likely would never meet, had judged me as a person, and voted the other way than the three hundred or so that do know me.

As in, not worthy of his medical assistance for some reason.

Religion? We covered the answer to that a few weeks ago (Luke 10:25-37).

Perhaps a misunderstanding as to who we are? Whether or not we're driven by necessity rather than choice? There is plenty of evidence there, too -- as witness our fifteen to twenty percent attempted suicide rate, which is directly attributable to transphobia. People tell us, in little ways and big, that we shouldn't exist -- and after being told this enough times, we tend to become a little too obliging.

But even if he does feel that way -- not saying he does, I'm only speculating -- if he does -- and this is about withholding treatment from the unworthy ... or even if he were right about us ...

Well, then, when someone who has smoked for thirty years comes in with cancer, does the receptionist point to SMOKER on the papers and say, "I'm sorry, he only does people who didn't give themselves this disease?"

No treatment for cirrhosis?

Skiing accidents?

At the scene of the auto accident, does an EMT say, "No, don't do that one, she wasn't wearing her seat belt?"

Assuming the refusal to treat is, in this case, anything whatever other than that this is outside his area of expertise or he's just got a full schedule, then what we have here is a violation of the oath of Hippocrates.

-- risa b


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