Many transgender people nationwide battle hatred, ostracization and discrimination in their interactions with random people and even with their friends and families. Hate is a nearly unavoidable part of life for the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. today. Unfortunately, achieving tolerance and acceptance is a process that takes time and education.
However, neither a person’s gender identity nor sexual orientation should impact their healthcare experience. The UF College of Health and Human Performance, along with the Office of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, recently hosted Transparency: Physiology, Wellness & Beyond in the Trans Community, an event to promote awareness about general wellness among the transgender community. The event educated me on disparities in healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community and on the transitions some transgender people experience. Americans need to spread awareness of this process to increase tolerance and acceptance nationwide.
Transitioning is a different process for each trans person. Some trans people require hormonal treatments, some require surgery and some require both treatments. Only the person who is transitioning can determine what treatment they need to feel comfortable and at peace. It is the job of doctors and the medical community to support people who are in the process of transitioning.
However, insurance companies create unwarranted obstacles for medical providers and their patients, making an already challenging process even more difficult. Some insurance companies refuse to cover any kind of surgical transition surgeries. Other medical impediments trans people sometimes face include a required consultation with a psychiatrist or a letter of approval from a psychiatrist, even though the evidence suggests the patient’s judgment is sound. Very few surgeries require approval from anyone other than the patient, and it is demeaning to imply that seeking gender transition surgery should cast doubt on your decision-making capabilities.
UF Health Shands Hospital recently updated its medical paperwork to make patients’ preferred names more visible for doctors. Measures like this, and steps like highlighting preferred pronouns, are important for creating a welcoming and supportive environment in doctors offices. Patients shouldn’t need to correct their doctor on their name or gender, as that makes doctors seem less credible and could make patients uncomfortable. Reforming general intake paperwork to ensure doctors know how to address their patients will create a more seamless experience for trans people visiting medical providers.
It’s only common sense that an individual’s healthcare should be a top priority, but the healthcare options for the LGBTQ+ community are limited and inconsistent in our country. It’s natural to sometimes disagree with the way people live their lives, as our country’s allure resides in our diverse cultures and our freedom of expression. We as a society need to open our ears and minds to our faults, especially in our handling of LGBTQ+ healthcare.
I know it will take time for society to treat trans people with the respect they deserve, but we must vigilantly combat the prejudices plaguing our healthcare system. We need to listen and respond to the mistreatment of the trans community with reforms that create a more inclusive, supportive and accommodating healthcare system.
Chasity Maynard is a UF journalism freshman. Her column appears on Fridays.