By Miriam Genao
I am a huge supporter of the LGBT community. I feel that people should be their true selves without having to worry about what others may think or how they will be treated. Sadly, many who come out to their family, friends, or peers get disowned, disrespected, kicked out, humiliated, abused, and even killed.
When I first moved to Orlando, Florida, I was working at the University of Central Florida (UCF). I was a medical assistant in the Women’s Health Center. There is a huge LGBT community at that school, which I thought was awesome!
At work, they sent an email about a workshop to become an “Ally”. An Ally is a person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, and fair treatment of the LGBT community. The email piqued my interest so I decided to attend the workshop and discovered it was very interesting. It taught those in attendance how to use the correct pronouns like he or she, his or hers, theirs, etc. Also, how, if you didn’t know how to address someone in the LGBT community, to just ask the person. I learned that it’s best to ask immediately rather than to get it wrong and offend the person. It also discussed certain negative statistics about the community as far as crimes committed against them. Then and there, at that workshop, I decided that I would do my hardest to treat everyone with the respect they deserve regardless of their sexual orientation. I had never judged people for it and I wouldn’t start now.
After working for UCF for about a year, I decided to take advantage of another job opportunity offered to me elsewhere. That opportunity led me to a pediatric endocrinologist office. Little did I know that my experience with the LGBT community would get even broader. Here is where I was able to work more in depth with transgender youth and an organization built to help them.
I was so excited to have met my first trans patient who was just initiating their transition. That excitement quickly turned into sadness once we entered the exam room. This person looked so depressed. They walked looking down to the floor, barely talked, and never smiled. It broke my heart to see them this way. According to their mother, it was because other family members wouldn’t accept that the patient was transgender. Those family members thought it was a choice rather than a person being born that way. Unfortunately, the longer I worked at this office, the more I saw that this was a normal occurrence for these patients.
The procedure for patients in the pre-transition stage was to get evaluated by a psychologist to rule out any mental disorders like disassociative personality disorder . These mental conditions had to be well under control prior to starting the medicines that would aid in their transition. This all needed to be done before the medical insurance would even approve of the medications like estrogen and testosterone.
The organization the doctor referred the patients to, if they hadn’t yet been evaluated, was The Zebra Coalition. They have psychologists that are experts in diagnosing gender dysphoria. The organization also provides shelter and any necessary support needed for LGBT youth. I absolutely love what The Zebra Coalition does for the community.
Once the patient passed their evaluation, the doctor prescribed testosterone for female to male (FTM) trans patients and estrogen for male to female (MTF) trans patients. The next step was to wait and see if the insurance approved coverage of the medication once the insurance paperwork was filed. That was another hurdle my poor patients had to deal with because if the right diagnosis codes or correct wording wasn’t used in the office notes, it meant that the medical insurance would deny coverage of the medications.
Once the insurance approved coverage of the medicines, you could see the happiness in the patient’s eyes. They were just dying to initiate they’re transition. This is where the patient takes their medication and truly starts living their life in the body they were always meant to have all along.
When my patients were in full transition, you could see a complete change in their demeanor. They were smiling, talking way more, and just a completely different person. That was the best part of my job and I miss it so much.
Working at the pediatric endocrinologist office taught me that not everything in life is black and white. My job there showed me that life could be a rainbow of colors that everyone needs acceptance regardless of gender or sexuality.
Miriam Genao is a mother of 3 beautiful children and a blogger on Miriam Knows….