Tagged: health

In Praise Of Lesbian Doctors

Getting healthcare as a trans person is goddamn difficult. I avoid doctors to my own detriment because it’s so unpleasant. I get caught in health insurance hell as various agencies attempt to determine my sex and thereby decide what healthcare I deserve. I’m one of the lucky ones–indignities aside, I always get the healthcare I need.

Through the ups and downs of appointments and procedures, a few dedicated people have gone out of their way to show me respect, advocate for my rights, and deliver the care I need. Where would I be without lesbian doctors?

  • My step-mom, who prescribes me antibiotics in a pinch, who referred me to the doctor who prescribes my testosterone, who is one of the few doctors in her city who treats trans patients.
  • My primary care doctor, who prescribes my testosterone, who takes a genuine interest in my wellbeing, who makes pelvic exams bearable, who uses the right words for my body, who goes out of her way to help queer patients.
  • The surgeon I’m consulting with for my hysterectomy, who is happy to see transsexual men in her gynecological practice, whose staff is highly informed and respectful.
  • The doctor who takes care of billing for the surgeon, who is also her partner, who personally called my insurance company and insisted they come up with a real solution for trans patients, who is arranging to give me a discount on my consultation so I can afford it without insurance.

All four of these professionals are lesbians who make a point of being allies to other queer people, a commitment they’ve discussed frankly with me. I’ve never a bad experience with a lesbian doctor–and as you can tell, I’ve seen quite a few–nor have I ever had a doctor of a different identity go above and beyond the call of duty like this. (Never had any other queer doctors, as far as I know.) I was referred to each doctor by another on the list, so it’s really my local lesbian doctor community that has done so much for me.

Thank you, thank you, lesbian doctors, for your life-saving solidarity.

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Testosterone: Gel vs Injections

I recently switched up my testosterone prescription. I am now using Androgel, after nearly 4 years of injections. I am really pleased with the change and thought I’d compare and contrast the two experiences.

I initially started with injections for two reasons. First, the cost–it’s generally much cheaper. (If you’re paying for testosterone cypionate out of pocket, you might want to look into Strohecker’s Pharmacy. Affordable and awesome.) Second, my doctor informed me that people usually see faster changes with injections, and fast changes were my no. 1 priority at the time.

I’m a rather anxious person, and over the last few years I developed a very negative relationship with my shots. In the beginning, I was highly motivated to get T into my system, so I didn’t really care. Once hormones changed from a matter of urgency to plain old health maintenance, I found it harder and harder to do the shots. I also found the shots got a lot more painful as I shed fat and gained muscle. Alma dutifully did every single one of my injections, despite my frequent complaining about them. (Thank you!!!) I kept thinking things would improve with time, but in fact, they got worse and worse. A couple months ago, I finally decided I’d had enough.

With some effort, I found an affordable way to get the gel. My insurance covers it at a great price if I get it through a special home delivery pharmacy, and it works out to be only slightly more expensive than the injections ($160/year vs $120/year). I’ll be aging off my dad’s insurance plan in a year; hopefully I will be able to continue to get the gel at a reasonable price after that. We’ll see.

Some things I love about switching to Androgel:

  • No needles!
  • No pain!
  • I can do everything myself (never worked up the nerve to do my own injections)
  • Levels feel more even (used to get breakouts & feel low-energy at the end of my shot cycle)

A few things I don’t like about Androgel:

  • Volume of gel I have to apply. I am on a lower dose (3 pumps/day, similar to 75mg/week in injection terms) and it’s still so. much. gel.
  • Worrying about accidentally exposing someone else to T (namely Alma)
  • Skin is a bit dry and itchy where I apply the gel

The few downsides are minor inconveniences. I’ve switched my showers from morning to night, so that takes care of the accidental exposure issue. Lotion is helping with the skin irritation. I will get my levels checked in a few months to make sure the gel is doing its job. All in all I’m really pleased with the switch.

Readers who take hormones–what method do you use?

Hysterectomy Blues

I’m planning to get a hysterectomy fairly soon. I always knew this would be part of my transition. Now that I’m here, it’s more difficult than I thought it would be.

It makes being trans much more real. I am a man who was born with a uterus and ovaries. What the fuck, God? It feels like a head-on collision with the absurdity of life.

I have always wanted to have a family. I feel a profound longing to be a parent, and I have for my whole life. I don’t feel strongly that I want to be a biological parent specifically, and I don’t want to use what I was born with. Still, there’s something really sad about surgical sterilization at the age of 24. I feel shut out of an important experience that other people take for granted. I know that many people can’t have biological children, but nobody talks about it.

My fiancée and I want to adopt. I am terrified we will face discrimination that will make that impossible. I am not interested in reproductive technologies, for a variety of reasons. I have been fortunate to meet a number of trans people who are parents, but none who have adopted.

There are some major silver linings here, of course. I won’t have to worry about the elevated cancer risk I may have as a transsexual man (the reason my doctor recommends hysterectomy). I won’t have any female-specific health care needs. I will have an excuse to lay around watching movies for a week. And I think I will feel a satisfying peace that my transition is complete.

So it’s not that I don’t want a hysterectomy–it’s that I wish I didn’t need one.