Coming out isn’t an easy thing to do, especially to the medical clinic you’ve been going to all your life, or the health care center at your school. Even though I came out almost three years ago, I still get called by my birth name and misgendered. Over those past three years I have changed my name preference in my charts, verbally explained how I identify, and made sure my diagnosis and pronouns are clear in my chart.
For school-based social workers, counselors, and psychologists, or really any adult in school, using a student’s chosen pronouns is so beneficial. If you are unsure whether someone is female, male, or nonconforming, it is a lot better to politely ask what pronouns they identify with than assume and risk being incorrect. From personal experience, getting misgendered in front of others makes me want to disappear. It makes me feel like less of the human I am and more of a different person that I don’t identify with. This isn’t the same for everyone though, and I can’t be the voice for the whole trans community, but truly believe that being referred to in a way that makes you feel the most comfortable should be a basic human right. It may not be easy to use everyone’s correct pronouns, but it isn’t hard to try.
There was a doctor I saw at the time I came out as transgender, he was not the most accepting doctor I’ve come across. He told me that my transition was an obsession and told my mom the same. This didn’t help me whatsoever; it just belittled me and made me feel bad for trying to find myself. After seeing him a few different times, I realized that I needed to find a doctor who better suited my needs.
Recently, all of my healthcare providers have been exceeding my expectations. The providers I’ve most recently seen have been kind, accepting, and have been able to give me the care I need without making me uncomfortable. They are able to do this by using my pronouns and name, talking to me as if I am just a boy, being respectful, and building trust.
Even though I’ve recently had good providers, a medical assistant I’ve seen didn’t make me feel the best. They did their job and acted nice enough, but outside of the door referred to me as my birth name to others and misgendered me several times. It was very unprofessional and disrespectful to me and made me very distrustful of that person. Caregiving professionals should be more sensitive to others feelings, whether or not they are in the same room. They should be more aware that the patient may be able to hear them.
All the people who provide medical and mental health support should be educated on how to treat trans youth. They can go to www.glsen.org/trans to watch videos, read blogs, and find tools like GLSEN’s Pronoun Resource. Then they can begin to treat every patient with equality and respect.
-Student Blogger, Age 16, Eugene, Oregon
Find more information on School-Based Mental Health Providers in our latest report, “Supporting Safe and Healthy Schools for LGBTQ Students.”