12.10.2013

My New Invisible M


I am at least as happy as this little pup because it's official: I got another 'M'. Only this one is invisible.

I spent a lot of time over the past few years talking to the Health Administration department. I have spoken to a number of people who work there and described my situation to them on more than one occasion. I have been transparent about my transition and have even had my doctor and surgeon talk to them on my behalf. I requested a change to the gender marker on my health care card after a number of disturbing incidents at the hospital and clinic. On at least one occassion I was left in a curtained area in the emergency room for over four hours without the doctor even stopping in to look at me once. Every time I had to go give blood at the lab there was an issue, sometimes resulting in embarrassing or uncomfortable experiences. As if getting a needle jabbed in your arm wasn't uncomfortable enough.

After my hysterectomy in February I tried again, and was told that I had to change my birth certificate in order to have my health care card changed. It seemed ridiculous to me to have to change my birth certificate to get the gender marker changed on my health care card. To change my birth certificate I would require proof of gender reassignment surgery from the surgeon and confirmation from my GP...all of which had been paid for by Health and Social Services! I was stuck in another briar patch of red tape and needed to find a way to get myself out. Like Brer Rabbit, I would have to be clever.

I learned a lot of helpful hints when I started my new job. I learned how to research case law and where to look for precedents. I learned that BC was in the process of changing their policy on gender markers and that Alberta had already established a trans-friendly way to have the health care marker changed. I compiled all my evidence and wrote another letter explaining my situation, describing my experiences at the hospital and sent it off to the Director of Health Administration.

And I copied the Minister of Health, the Deputy Minister of Health, and the Director and Deputy Directors of Health Care Policy Legislation and Communication and my GP.

It took just over a month but I received an email that stated that in light of this new information my gender marker would be changed immediately and they apologized for the delay and any inconvenience that it had caused me.

Pretty much a total win. Even though there is no gender marker on my health care card, my gender is visible to any person who has access to my health care information from admitting clerks to lab techs to the ophthalmologist. Since my gender is irrelevant for all of those people, it will be nice not to have to explain why my appearance doesn't match what they see on their screens.

I will be writing them one last time to thank them for being open to change and for being accommodating, right before I ask to see the revised policy.

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