Basic transgender health is vastly different from our friends in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community.
As a co-founding member of the St. Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group, board member of the LGBT Center of St. Louis, and as a trans man myself, I have firsthand experienced this difference in our community.
For me before transition I generally had the option to disclose whether or not I was lesbian or straight. In most solitary (partner free) healthcare encounters, I was treated with dignity and allowed space to be the patient.
Since coming out as Transgender and choosing medical interventions as part of my transition I have faced not only ignorance and intolerance, but I have had to be the educator and expert instead of the patient. Being in a vulnerable space of needing health care and being forced into an educator role is problematic and inappropriate but a way of life for many transgender individuals.
Transgender individuals need basic health care just like our cisgendered* counterparts but some of our medical needs are very specific to medical transition. Not only do we need general practitioners but some of us will need gynecological care, specialized medicine, and routine health screening that may not match our appearance or presentation. The basic need is to know we will be treated with dignity and respect. I know of countless transgender individuals who will put off routine or emergency care if they are unable to go to physicians they have relationships with. I personally have experienced discrimination in an emergency and during routine health testing.
The St. Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) provides a list of Metro Area healthcare providers who are transgender friendly. We have a vast network of Transgender missourians, who report their findings through personal narrative. These individuals engage MTUG and help us to identify friendly providers, while informing us of unfriendly providers.
There are ways to engage your health provider on Transgender health care. Ask your own medical provider if they consider themselves a welcoming space for trans people seeking health care. If you have had positive or negative trans related health care encounters let MTUG know. Attend one of our monthly Trans town halls where you can gather more information on how to be an advocate and get involved. Use our resource guide and be informed. Connect with MTUG we want your input.
***Cisgender is a word that applies to the vast majority of people, describing a person who is not transgender.