As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Philadelphia, preparing to wrap up my attendance at the 2008 Trans-health Conference. It was awesome to be here–and even awesomer that I got to pay for it with my continuing education money. Woohoo, professional career!
But seriously, this was a conference that I have been waiting months to go to. I got to be surrounded by my trans and queer brethren, take 2 days off of work–thank god!–and get educated about the shit that no one is teaching in school. (Also, as an added benefit I got to scope out all of the hot conference attendees)
As I sat in the Provider Day workshops, I was overcome by an unexpected wave of loneliness. I listened to other people talk about their work with the LGBTQ community and their trans health programs, and I realized how totally isolated I am at my job. Yes, I do have an awesome collaborating physician to back me up on the necessity of providing LGBTQ health care in our community. But in my day-to-day work life, I am so far removed from the queer community. Just as an example, here is a conversation that I had with one of our clinic nurses shortly before I left (her father-in-law is female-to-male and transitioned 2 years ago):
Me, to nurse: “Hey, tell your husband that I’m going to a national Trans Health Conference next week and I can bring him back some information for his parent if he wants it.”
Nurse: “I’ll tell him. I’m sure he won’t want anything.”
Me: “Ok, but it’s going to be good. Lots of good info.” (admittedly, at this point I was just goading her, but I couldn’t help myself)
Nurse: “I’ll tell her [the FTM parent]”
Me: “You mean HIM”
Nurse: “Whatever. I don’t have a problem with it. I just won’t call her him. And I won’t use her new name.”
Me: “So you have a problem with it.”
Nurse: “No, I don’t.”
Me: “So call him him, then.”
Nurse, shrugging and preparing to walk away: “whatever”
Me, under my breath: “fucking kill me”
So yeah, it was great to come here. I talked to my collaborating physician before I left about doing a lunchtime presentation for the residents on the topic of trans health. We’ll have to see how it goes.