What it's like to go to the gynecologist as a Black trans man: 'It's so dehumanizing'

·3 min read
A headshot of Jaden Fields standing outside in front of a field and tree
Jaden Fields is a trans advocate, writer, and poet. Courtesy of Jaden Fields
  • Jaden Fields, 31, is a trans advocate, poet, and writer based in Los Angeles.

  • He said he went to the gynecologist in 2017 and experienced medical transphobia from his provider.

  • This is his story, as told to the Insider reporter Canela López.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Up until recently, I've had to educate my doctors about gender. I've been gaslit so much by medical providers throughout my life.

For years, I hadn't been to the gynecologist because I didn't want to go through the kinds of experiences I've had with medical providers in the past, like being misgendered, asked invasive questions, and not being given clear answers to concerns I came in with because I'm trans. I'm also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and I haven't had many providers who are trauma informed.

But in 2017, I had pain in my uterus, and I wanted to get it checked out.

The options for doctors available through my insurance were limited. I was hoping the provider I found would be trans competent, but that wasn't the case.

It was uncomfortable in the doctor's office. At the time, I hadn't yet had my legal name or gender marker changed to reflect that I'm a man, but I had called before arriving and said my name was Jaden and that I'm a trans man.

Despite my call, they still used the wrong name and misgendered me.

I disclosed my sexual-abuse survivorship and requested that I be informed about what was happening during the gynecological checkup. Even so, the doctor didn't tell me what she was doing before touching me during the exam. I also asked her not to gender certain parts of my body, like referring to my genitals as "woman parts," which she did.

Doctors rarely get training in trans-specific healthcare

At the time of my appointment, I was working in healthcare advocacy, educating medical providers on how to be trans competent. I heard a lot of horror stories about my community members. But I still wasn't expecting to have such a transphobic experience trying to access healthcare.

The doctor had never worked with trans people or anyone undergoing hormone therapy, so she wasn't informed about how testosterone injections change a person's body.

I couldn't believe the things that were coming out of this provider's mouth. She made comments like, "Trans issues are so confusing. I don't know how people are expected to keep up with that kind of thing."

The doctor also said it's a shame I would never be able to have children because "this kind of thing makes people sterile."

Even though I came in complaining of pain in my uterus and was concerned about fibroids, she didn't believe me and said maybe it wasn't as bad as I claimed.

The fact that I had experienced childhood sexual abuse might increase the risk of fibroids in my uterus. Black female-assigned people have a higher risk in general.

It's so dehumanizing because there's a power dynamic in which the provider has all of the knowledge on what's happening to your body, but in medical school doctors usually get very little LGBT training.

I've continued to do a lot of work around healthcare advocacy, typically for transmasculine people since so many are putting off important preventive care because of horrible experiences with medical providers.

My experience with that gynecologist soured me on even thinking about my reproductive health. But just in the past couple of years, more options have arisen for trans-competent healthcare.

All of the virtual online healthcare plans that exist now for trans people to access care, like Folx Health and Plume, are making it a little bit more possible for folks to find providers who understand trans bodies.

Read the original article on Insider