Voices of Transgender Adolescents in Healthcare


I mean there are so many journeys that exist, I mean we all have a different path and you know, and trans identity is only one, and no one is wrong for how they understand themselves. My name’s Danny. I work at the University of Michigan for
a couple different programs. On this project I’m working with the Adolescent Health Initiative to get information about what it’s like
for transgender young adults to navigate the healthcare system in the hope that we can work to make it
better. As a transgender person myself I care a lot about educating people on
this issue and improving our healthcare services especially because many trans youth are at high risk for depression and suicide. For this project, we met with transgender young adults in the Ann Arbor and Detroit areas to hear their experiences with healthcare. We recognize there are many other
viewpoints not represented here, and do not intend to speak for the entire
transgender community. This video was created as a companion to trainings by the Adolescent Health Initiative for healthcare providers and staff. It’s our
hope that sharing these perspectives will help you better understand some of the challenges
faced by transgender youth so we can work to improve the healthcare system. I would like to be asked what pronouns to use, because for me when
somebody says “he,” it really really upsets me and almost like breaks me down, and then it’s
like, Oh, you know, I might as well just leave because I’m sure I can handle this on my own, you
know, I came to you for help and you just, you know, ruined my entire, you know, week. Jordon, when would that happen to — like when when it feel best for that to happen? Is that, like, over the phone? Is that on the form? I think on the form because I mean that would be a little bit weird
to be you know, you know, “What pronouns do you use?”
you know making your appointment. I feel like that would be a little bit too
in your face. Have you ever encountered problems filling out forms or frustrations with having to, like, check certain boxes? Yes. That male-female box. Because I wanna mark female and legally I can’t and that irritates me. Or I might be on the phone with them
they will say “What is your gender?” you know, and I have to tell them what my legal gender is. But that really frustrates me. It does. Do other folks have similar
experiences with that or different experiences that you would want to talk
about? They actually asked for your, like,
“preferred name” and I put it down and I was, like, yeah, they’re gonna use it and they didn’t and I was, like, so what was
the point to of me putting it down if you’re not gonna… So, like, yeah I get that there’s the good
intention, but like [if] you’re not gonna implement it there’s no point of putting
it there. If you could list off just five words or terms that you would like your healthcare providers to know or be comfortable with and, like, do some education on their own about, what would those words be? Um, those would probably be… cisgender, transgender, gender non-conforming, cissexism, transphobia. So just learning those things would be good. Yeah, oh my goodness, please learn them. So, “cis” or “cisgender” is someone who identifies as the sex and gender that they were assigned at birth. So
that’s when the doctor, like, sees the baby and they’re like, “Oh! It’s a boy!” or “Oh! It’s a girl!”, they still identify as
whatever the doctor said at the time. I’m not big on terms. I just like for people to be respectful. As far as like, if you don’t know pull me to the
side and ask me. Or if you think you know and may have a idea still pull me to the side and ask me. Don’t be like all, “Well, she looks like a ‘she’ or is she a ‘he’?” Don’t try to guess it. Like, like I said, I’m not really big on using terms, I just use female. And I may ask you, or I’d rather just use your name. People don’t know what we’re going through and a lot goes in our heads, because we have to deal with the world accepting us being transgender. And health is something that is a big
concern with us. I think for me one of the biggest problems I
encounter is that whenever I go to the doctor I end up telling the doctor more about my
body than the doctor tells me, because they just
don’t really understand stuff, or understand how things work which I get, but also it’s kind of their job to know and I feel like, I mean, I know that, like, hospitals are supposed to provide training for them, and stuff like that, but they don’t, and, so it ends up being, you know, because trans people’s bodies and what they’re experiencing, and what cis people go through are totally
different in a lot of ways but in a lot of ways, they’re not, and they don’t really know where that is and what kinda boundaries those things
have and it just gets really weird sometimes. Can you just talk a little bit about what it feels like to sit in the lobby? You know, after getting signed in, especially like me, I don’t have my name changed legally done just yet, and my gender marker is not legally changed either so it’s kinda hard for me to have to sign in
and, you know, give up all my documents and stuff like that and whatnot, and I retrieve them back, and then wait patiently for the doctor or somebody to call you out, and then you’re just waiting on that door to open, and you’re just like, “Oh God. What are they gonna say? What are they gonna say? How are you gonna do this?” You know, and then when they call your
name out, I mean, you kinda don’t want to just sit there ’cause then, they’re gonna look at you and be like, “Hey. They just called you.” No, they didn’t. No, they didn’t. No, they didn’t. Wrong person. I just wish that their kindness like, extended to trying to find a
level of understanding with their trans patients that I just
don’t think exists for a lot of doctors. Because, it’s so, it’s like, it’s so amazing and frustrating to see those wonderful intentions and then just
still leave really upset. Yeah, a trans-friendly doctors’ office would be people who are culturally competent, people who actually — I feel if you don’t have a desire to be affirming of different identities, then don’t be a
health care worker. Statistically, you’re going to have quite a few trans people entering into your office, so that’s a lot more
common than your very very rare disease that you might spend a month studying at your medical school, so it’s not just
this, you know one tiny segment. If you can learn and study about a very rare
disease, you can also learn and study how to be respectful and polite to trans
people when they come in. Now is more of a time than anything to want
to get on the bandwagon of trans healthcare You know, because, it is happening, it is
out there and more and more folks are coming out, not
necessarily at you know, 30, 40, years old even 20, consensually, you know, people are coming out younger and younger, you know, “I am Jazz” is seven years old. I mean when you actually take
the time out to really focus on, you know, what your client or what your patient’s needs are, and you really have
that, “Oh, okay, I can do this,” you know what I’m saying, ’cause it’s not
really that hard, it’s not that difficult or even if it is something difficult,
challenge yourself! Challenge the medical system. Challenge the healthcare field. Do it. You know what I’m saying, because what’s the worst they’re going to tell you? No? ok

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