First and foremost I must apologize for being absent for the last two days. Things have been busy and there really was no time for anything but chores. However now that I can stop for a brief moment, I thought it would be an excellent time to talk about Medical care in the L.G.B.T.T.Q Tennessee community.
Everyone has heard in the news about the “Don’t say gay” bill that currently sits at a stand still in the House of Rep’s and the recently passed “Discrimination bill” that forbids any cities from adding protections to their citizens by including Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to their cities own Anti-Discrimination bill. The State of Tennessee would like to remind you that if your LGBTTQ, we don’t want you working here. No official has said that but that certainly is what it implies. It has been a harsh month on the community, so today I thought I would hare with you a positive story from the same state.
When I knew I had to transition and I just couldn’t wait any longer to do it, I had a problem. I had NO clue where I was going to go for my medical needs. I went to an Endocrinologist that was actually recommended by some other LGBT friendly site. He wouldn’t give me care. Even after talking to the receptionist on the phone and ensuring they saw “Transgender” patients, I was still refused. Its hard as someone being TS who is nervous, scared and feeling very exposed to start their journey with rejections.
Living in the South can be hard when you’re gay and, in my opinion, even harder if you’re Transsexual. But this is where I grew up and mostly spent my years until about 27. I had a Family doctor, Dr. Tracy Osborne from Middle Tennessee Internal Medicine Associates. I had seen her for years, as my family had before me. I had sent several friends(Whom will remain nameless) there to become patients and seek out care when they we’re ill because in my experiences, she not only is a brilliant Doctor but she did the one thing most Doctors don’t do anymore…She listens. I won’t go into too much about her other then to say her career specializing in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases’ speaks for itself.
The last thing I wanted was to go to my family doctor who had know me for a good while and knew my family. I couldn’t imagine the crushing devastation if I was rejected or if some how my family came to know that I was TS. I was terrified. But I was more terrified of postponing my journey any longer. I made my appointment, and arrived early. My heart was racing the whole time. When she came in I explained everything, on the verge of tears for most of the conversation. She sat and she listened.
When I was done she assured me nothing had changed; Not her opinion of me or her desire to keep me as a patient. She admitted she didn’t know much about it from the prescribing aspect but she would look into it and learn. I brought my letter okaying my HRT and she wrote the scripts…perfectly. I didn’t realize how perfectly her care of me was till I moved to my current home in Seattle and saw an actual TS specialist. I never told Dr. Osborne but I was proud of her that day. She went above and beyond for her Patient and that makes a Great Doctor. It would have been so easy to tell me she didn’t feel comfortable prescribing me the meds and sending me else where. She didn’t and I’m grateful.
The staff there is fantastic, caring, non-judgmental and very understanding. When I lost my insurance I couldn’t afford to see Dr. Osborne anymore but she had hired a Nurse Practitioner, Jacob Page. I had to go through the hell of doing the “coming out” thing with him as well. He did exactly as Dr. Osborne had done…he listened and then reassured me everything would be okay. He has been nothing but amazing to me all through out. He’s like a mixture of a brilliant medical practitioner and one of those personal trainers who always tries to keep you positive and encouraging(On a somewhat off topic note on my part, he’s not bad looking either, lol).
This place has seen me go from a very unhappy and scared guy who wanted nothing more then to shed the “mask” I was wearing to the Woman I am today. I know I could not have taken those first important steps without them.
In closing, I would like to add that they do not specialize in Transgender care, but they will work with you as best they can. They DO follow WPATH’s Standards of Care v6(SoCv6). Don’t go there looking to skip that all important first step of Therapy. Once you have your letter, I am sure they will treat you with the utmost respect as they have me. They do not have a “Gatekeeper” mentality, they just follow the guidelines. Frankly I don’t blame them. Changing your body from one gender to another is serious business and often times there is no going back if you change your mind. I would hope my Doctor cared enough about my health to ensure that I had discussed this with a professional and we agreed this is what is right for me.
Middle Tennessee Internal Medicine Associates may not be a specialist in the Field of TS care, but I have no regrets and anytime I’m in town for a yearly visit, I usually stop in for a check up and blood work updates. I doubt I will ever find another Medical facility that has treated me with the respect and dignity I didn’t think I deserved back then, but by their initial understanding and professionalism to look beyond stereotypes and see me for ME, they helped me learn that I, like any other person, was deserving of that Respect they gave so freely from the very beginning.
To all of you there, from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul, thank you.