So yesterday, I finally had my appointment with the VA endocrinology department to get them to cover my hormones. To say it went poorly would be an understatement. So today, let’s talk about my experience, and how I worked to prevent it from being worse, and how you can do the same with your own medical providers. Because sadly, mine was not an isolated incident, and even when going to your regular doctor, you can run into issues.
I showed up half an hour early for the appointment, and the front desk clerk wasn’t there, so the nurses began to check me in. My name still hasn’t been changed in their system, so it was constantly “Sir,” “Mr.,” and “he” from the nurses, even after I kept saying that it’s “Ma’am,” “Ms.,” and “she.” Then I got to see the doctor, or I should say the med school intern there for training, who also proceeded to refer to me as a male the whole time, even going so far as to say that I’m “still a guy, always have been a guy, always will be a guy” as his basis for telling me to get things regarding male anatomy (e.g. the prostate) checked. He also asked me numerous questions about the effects I’ve noticed from hormones, most of them generic and standard, but the one that stood out was his question about the size of my genitals and whether or not they’ve shrunk. Within five minutes, he had me pulling down my pants so he could check, and before even doing a check for cancer or hernias or anything else typical down there, he was feeling them and said “yup, they’re small all right.”
We then began discussing my hormones, and he wanted to completely take me off of the progesterone because he didn’t feel it did anything. I corrected him, mentioning that it helps with breast development, and he went to confer with his supervisor who agreed with me, but changed it from constant dosage to cycling. Since endocrinologists can’t agree on the pros or cons of either method, or of even taking them, this was a frustration but I at least kept on the hormone as a just in case. They did also talk about lowering my estrogen, which is within safe levels of dosage. The problem here is that they didn’t have any results from bloodwork they were basing this on, they just wanted to lower my dosage. I don’t go to the lab for bloodwork until the end of the month, so this was clearly just their opinions, which again I fought.
After dealing with them, I went to the admin desk to check on why my name hasn’t been changed in the system yet and was told it would take another week. The same line they’ve been telling me for two weeks. Finally, I went to the pharmacy, waited for an hour for my prescriptions, only to be told that they only had two of the three filled and that I had to wait and they would call my name. About five or so minutes later, they called my no longer legal male name, in front of everyone, and told me that the third prescription would have to be mailed to me. I then ran into the med student intern again so he could hand me some paperwork for the labs that he forgot before I left, and he proved just how incompetent he is by failing to print out a doctor’s note for me to take to school, and in the process of trying to find the phone number for the clinic, managed to drop and break the phone’s handset (this is a cord-phone).
I was at the VA hospital in Dallas for three and a half hours yesterday, and did not have one person refer to me as female. And had I not known as much as I do about my own hormone levels and about why I’m taking the hormones I do and the effects I have, it would have been much worse. I’ve been on hormones almost 16 months now, I’ve been to the doctor to fill prescriptions six times, and I have yet to see the same person twice for any of my appointments. Five of those six visits were to civilian doctors. So make sure you know as much as possible about what you’re going in for, because you may just know more than the person seeing you and you may have to educate them. It’s a sad fact of life for the trans community, especially when we have to educate those who say they’ve worked with other trans patients in the past, as I had to with this instance.
How about you, readers? Do you have any experiences you care to share? Advice for others?