As illustrated here, a lot of my blog pieces come from recent personal experiences. Sometimes it’s about new entertainment I learned about, negative allyship experiences, or just new identities I learned more about. Some of these are good, but I also think it’s important to highlighting bad experiences and giving advice on how to handle them. This is what I’m going to do here, regarding medical visits as a queer person. My visit comes from the gynecologist but I am talking about medical professionals in all areas.
- Do consider coming out to your medical professional
Well I would never tell you anyone to come out, I would suggest to consider doing so when dealing with your medical professionals. This can certainly be scary, but it definitely becomes essential at some point like gynecologists and urologists. When talking about sexual health, such as birth control or other safe sex methods, it is helpful for these professionals to know who and how you may be having sex with.
However, while this helpful, I can totally relate to how scary this can be by explaining my experience at the gynecologists. Basically the doctor was equating experience with knowing my sexual orientation. See, I’m a “virgin.” A couple weeks ago at my first visit to the gynecologist I was asked how I know I’m a lesbian if I’ve never had sex with a man. Now, I’m not going to rant about inappropriate that was. I just wanted to give this example to demonstrate that I understand that it is scary to come out to a medical professional. Despite this, no matter what experiences you’ve had with sex, your biological sex, and gender identity is, it can really help to share this information.
- Don’t let your medical professional(s) make assumptions about you
There are a lot of assumptions and stereotypes that come with being part of the LGBTQ+ Community. A big example of this is birth control. As a person who identifies within the LGBTQ+ Community, birth control to prevent pregnancy is not always something that one needs to worry about. However, if you do come out to your medical professional, don’t let them assume this. You may seek out the same birth control methods that prevent pregnancy for other reasons such as acne treatment, painful periods, or irregular periods. (ASRM). It’s important that you speak up and ask for this if your medical professional(s) assume you don’t need it because of your sexual orientation. Additionally, birth control also includes safe sex supplies which they should be able to advise you are if need be. Other assumptions include things regarding gender identity and hormones. Don’t let medical professionals assume your gender identity or things about it, like a desire/need to go on hormones
- Do remember to ask questions
Health classes, especially those surrounding sexual health are typically extremely heteronormative, or education based only on those who are heterosexual. This leaves out a lot of information for those who are not, such as how to practice safe sex. Remember that your medical professionals should know this information and to use them as a reliable source to ask questions.
- Don’t forget how important this is
Whether you decide to come out to your health professional or not, don’t forget how important your health is. All different health topics, whether just the flu or in regards to sexual health all deal with things that effect your well being. You should try your best to take care of yourself as best you can, despite how scary it can be to share information about your LGBTQ+ identity with medical professionals.
- Do be as open as you feel comfortable
It is scary to share information about yourself with others, especially when you are part of a marginalized oppressed community. While being open about your identity would be great in terms of gender identity and pronouns, if you really don’t feel comfortable and you are okay with the repercussions that come with not sharing your identity (such as not learning more about safe sex and letting them possibly misgender you) don’t feel like you are obligated to do so.
- Don’t accept less than you deserve
In a 2015 study, “medical learners reported being less comfortable with taking a sexual history and discussing safe sexual practices with LGBTQ patients than they are with other patients” (Hayes). The most common reason for this was inadequate training. Similar to the quote in The Perks Of Being a Wallflower quote, don’t accept less than you deserve. If you feel like your medical profession(s) is not trained well enough to help you as an LGBTQ+ individual, consider changing them to someone who can help you better, where you are comfortable.
Hayes, V., Blondeau, W., & Bing-You, R. G. (2015). Assessment of Medical Student and Resident/Fellow Knowledge, Comfort, and Training With Sexual History Taking in LGBTQ Patients. Family Medicine, 47(5), 383-387.
“Noncontraceptive Benefits of Birth Control Pills.” (2011). American Society for Reproductive Medicine.