Why Boycott?

CN: SSM plebiscite, politics, homophobia

 

Unless you’re lucky enough to live under a rock, you have heard -something- about the Australian Government’s “brilliant” idea of getting everyone to vote on whether same-sex marriage should be allowed. You probably also heard a bunch of people saying the vote is rigged, that it’s defeatist, that it’s probably illegal but maybe not, and that it’s homophobic and causing real harm to people.

Antony Green points out that voluntary postal votes have lower participation rates, particularly among groups that might be expected to have more people vote yes. Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court, called it ‘unacceptable‘. It’s been reported that the organisation tasked with managing the vote isn’t up to it, but no alternatives exist. And, of course, now we’re being told that if we don’t vote, it’s our fault if the result is no. But it’s also quite possibly illegal, so.

After my experience with last year’s census, and remembering how my vote wasn’t counted since I couldn’t write neatly enough, being disabled and all, I don’t trust the ABS, even if they’re held to AEC rules, to pull this off. A lot of the damage has been done already, while this issue has been dragged out over years, and people are continually treated as ‘different’ and being ‘othered’ for existing.

While I’m writing this, an interlocutory hearing for an injunction against the vote is being held. I’m hoping PFLAG’s application gets upheld, but Kirby isn’t on the High Court any more, so, I don’t know whether it will.

If it doesn’t, and the vote goes ahead, I intend to boycott.

Continue reading Why Boycott?

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A Privileged Position

TW: medical treatment for non-gender-binary and trans people, privilege

 

Side note: rumour has it that one no longer needs to provide ID to get codeine, at least until it goes script-only. Small wins are good, right?

 

So all this medical stuff I’m going through lately, and specifically how people seem unable to see ‘me’ in all this, has made me think about how i fit into the whole thing and how trans* and non-binary people get care. My position is that because i am afab (assigned female at birth), and since that’s generally how people assume when they see me, even if i do my makeup and bind and layer specifically for passing (especially now), i don’t really get put in the position of having to ‘convince’ anyone i was afab for things that is necessary for.

And, it is, unfortunately necessary. Because medical experimentation and treatment outlines and pretty much everything is designated male or female, it’s something that sticks with someone even if they surgically transition and live entirely as their preferred gender identity. (It’s very embarrassing to have to approach FtM relatives, for example, to ask if they had endometriosis, just fyi.) So, because i was afab and because i don’t want to permanently alter how i look, i don’t get the ‘but i was afab so you do need to give me a pap smear’ things.

What i also don’t get is valid and appropriate care for things which should not be gendered but are. Half of my heart is enlarged and i have a family history of heart disease (the rocks fall everyone dies kind of history). Because i don’t present male enough, it isn’t being taken seriously. Nobody knows why my heart is enlarged. Nobody thinks it’s worth looking into, no matter how much noise i make over it. Heart disease is a male illness; the warning signs and treatments are all designed for and tested exclusively on men. The fact that my heart isn’t working how it should, because i do not present male, is not important. The fact that i get dizzy if i move too fast, that my right shoulder doesn’t work, that i get chest pains for no reason – these mean nothing.

Well, i am told that the chest pains are just anxiety, because i have a mental health diagnosis, but then if that was the case it wouldn’t happen exclusively when i’m either sitting doing nothing and being very calm, or in the middle of the most strenuous physical activity i can not fail at doing.

 

Because i present female (even when i don’t mean to), doctors treat me as the stereotypical female. Since i have a mental health diagnosis from when i presented as a female under thirty… every physical thing gets written off as stress. i don’t get second opinions. i don’t get the right scans – just the cheapest. i had an echocardiogram after six months of saying ‘this isn’t right’. The cardiologist sent back a report saying it wasn’t concerning. My family history wasn’t passed on to him. i’m sure my file sits next to my dad’s in their file room, but confidentiality means even if someone noticed, they couldn’t use that as a reason to suspect a connection. Another doctor asked why i hadn’t had an ECG or a stress test, until he saw the report. Then, well…

Because people who present female and still count as ‘young’ are still ‘hysterical’ and ‘its just stress’.

 

And this is before the gynaecologist, where suddenly i’m not dysphoric enough to have a procedure i asked for for medical reasons, and i’m meant to wait until i’m older “in case”.

 

My point is, i think, that having any kind of non-binary or trans identity not only blocks people from accessing care due to the attitudes and assumptions of physicians, but even without those, we can never escape our birth identity. It still defines us, for them. We can’t avoid their boxes and the traits that go with them. Some of us have privilege that matches enough to get what we need; some of us do not. Some of us have to apply labels we don’t identify with to get what we need; some of us do not. Some of us can fight for what we need; some of us can’t.

It’s not us that need to change.

Lack of Lived Experience

TW: medical stuff, ableism, lack of understanding from medical professionals

 

In this post I am going to list things and what people say and try to explain why it’s totally inadequate and ill-informed that they said it. It’s a processing post, because I can’t separate the hurt from anything rational because this all feels so totally irrational to me.

 

You don’t have many pimples anyway, you can just use pimple cream!

People don’t only get pimples on their face. Pimples on the face can be covered with makeup. Judging acne only from what’s on the fact is therefore flawed. I have pimples down my torso to my waist. Some of them form deeply and last for months.

Pimple creams are acidic and generally carry warnings about not coming into contact with clothes. For pimples generally in areas where there are clothes, pimple cream is not an option if one can’t afford new clothes.

The fact that I have pimples again distresses me because it is a symptom of my body not being the way it is in my head – there are not-mine hormones and not-mine shapes. It isn’t compassionate to say ‘but they’ll go away with time’ because that is measured in years, if at all. It isn’t compassionate to say ‘but pimple cream!’ because that expects me to spend money I don’t have and incorporate a daily/twice-daily thing that is focused specifically on this symptom I should not have. Making it a bigger part of life doesn’t make it less distressing.

 

You can have a Mirena! We’ll just knock you out for it.

I said NO to the Mirena. I am here because I had one forced on me and it has screwed up my body and now it’s not mine. Being unconscious for insertion doesn’t change the fact that once one wakes up, it is in there and has a constant presence and greatly unwanted side effects. Being unconscious for a procedure doesn’t take away the before and after. It doesn’t take away the knowledge that strangers are poking in body parts that one pretends aren’t there. You don’t get to be unconscious for the time when you’re preparing for it.

And, since I was very clear about my history and what I wanted and why, suggesting it at all implies that the doctor isn’t paying attention.

 

But it will go away with time, you just have to wait.

Wait how long? With debilitating anxiety? Exactly? Can you put an end date on this? And what am I meant to do in the meantime? See how I’m explaining how this impacts me? And you expect me to live like this because it might go away later?

 

But you haven’t had a period, that’s great!

Yes, I know it works. That’s why I didn’t want it changed in the first place. But it was. And because you’re refusing me a permanent solution, I have to put up with you suggesting constant non-permanent solutions, which do not work for me and you follow up with but I can’t have them yet because I’m too young (what the hell) and you won’t let me type to you. I have to put up with all of the above.

I also have to put up with a permanent migraine and a bunch of side effects which you’re totally minimising. But, you know, sure. Not being able to see and being constantly terrified is great and I can’t think of a reason to justify that even to be sarcastic. But go ahead. Sure.

 

 

We can’t be sure why you want this.

Well, refer me to someone so you can get a report that says so, since you’re quite happily ignoring the one (two) you already have. Also, you’re the one who decided that it was the only way to get it done and hasn’t bothered listening to the whole ‘I am in a lot of pain’ part. And perhaps if you even let me communicate with you, yeah, that would help.

 

I Can’t Even

TW: gender dysphoria, anxiety, ableism, discrimination, mentions of rape/pregnancy, discussion of reproductive organ stuff

 

I just got home from the gynaecologist. I didn’t make it home before spouting into big ugly tears. I didn’t even make it out of the office, though I fought valiantly to keep them just in my eyes.

 

Let’s recap the situation:

I am genderfluid (they/them), asexual, and very not interested in having children. I very dearly above pretty much everything else in life, including singing with Sir Russell and not having to ever talk to my mother again, want a hysterectomy-oophorectomy.

Continue reading I Can’t Even

Good News!

TW: female body issues, anxiety

 

I am officially old enough to be taken seriously when I make a decision about my body. You know, the one that is like ‘I do not want kids ever, I will kill myself if I have another period ever, the wacky hormones this body likes not having controlled are making my anxiety worse and I would like them to go away, please take out the thing that makes them’.  It wasn’t the most perfect appointment – despite telling me to make the appointment myself, the GP sent the referral anyway, so the appointment was made for less than two weeks away (which is now today, because I totally abandoned the internet for a week in favour of Final Fantasy XV, and there will be a post on that so if you haven’t finished the main story, get on it), and my psychiatrist didn’t know about it and had two days to send the ‘this is what is needed to facilitate best communication and this is where we are at in diagnosing things as either brain or not-brain’. Naturally, that didn’t arrive, so I got there and had to type on my phone, which means all statements must be Twitter-style brief and concise, which I am terrible at. Luckily, I took a summary of everything-since-I-was-12 and that answered most of the questions, so it wasn’t a disaster.

 

However, despite being old enough to say ‘this is what I want’, I now have to see not only my psychiatrist and return to the GP to get both of them to sign off in writing, I have to see another psychiatrist and another gynaecologist, so they all can sign off. And I can only have half of what I want (a partial hysterectomy, because they won’t take out the ovaries because they make the hormones which are causing the problem), anyway. And you know, it’s the law, so we have to cover our arses, you know “in case you change your mind”.

 

Which, I won’t. Obviously.

 

So now I have to pay for all this.

 

The good news is that I can, kinda. Medicare pay for some, private health pays for some, and the rest comes out of my shiny new disability payment. Turns out, I didn’t have to go to the appointment in the first place, or something, or something else, which I don’t know because I can’t call them and I only know this because I got a response to my third complaint which said “your issue has a resolution, please call if you want to know more”. And then! Money! In my account! Enough to pay down my credit card, pay for the gynaecologist, and buy a Christmas cake. And I can send presents to my family now!

 

And I’m just going to go back to Final Fantasy, because I am being very calm, because my head hurts and I’m terrified this won’t happen before I either need a new Pap smear, need a new Implanon, or get the period-after-the-Implanon-has-been-in-for-a-few-months. I know it’s coming, because my head hates me and I’m bloated rather unevenly and I haven’t even been able to keep my bi-weekly vegan alfredo down. I don’t know when.

 

But apparently, according to the gynaecologist today, I look 21, so. And I’m also meant to stick with my current pain relief regime because it’s good for me. You know, the one I routinely have trouble purchasing.

 

 

 

Yeah.

 

 

 

1996 called…

TW: dysphoria, description of female-bodied hormonal issues and effects, ableism

 

The excitement has officially worn off.

 

I went to the doctor and fought and I now have a referral for a gynaecologist who is trans-friendly. (I don’t feel comfortable being lumped in under the trans* umbrella because I generally tend to be made unwelcome there, but apparently being genderfluid counts because it’s non-binary. Or something. I don’t feel comfortable with that label for me, and I don’t like labels, so.) There are four in the city. I was mentally willing the doctor to send me to the one in the state hospital, since I’ve had good experiences there and it’s easy to get to. Instead, she just kept talking and talking and not letting me get a word in and I ended up with a letter to some other one who’s nearer to me but isn’t quite so accessible. This one travels, so she doesn’t have an office. This means, apparently, that she can’t have an email or postal address. To make an appointment, one either has to ring a mobile number (and I don’t use the relay any more for reasons I have outlined before), or, as indicated in in tiiiiny tiiiiny letters at the bottom of her website, there is a fax number.

 

I can’t go in to an office and hand over the referral and make an appointment.

 

I specifically asked the doctor when she had printed the referral. ‘How do I make the appointment? Does she send a letter with a time?’ The doctor said she could do it for me. I don’t know what ‘it’ was, but. Then the referral was put in an envelope, sealed, and given to me. Apparently, I have to make the appointment myself. With a referral in a sealed envelope. (They don’t like it when you open them – I was in the ER once, and the doctor there wrote a letter to my GP and gave it to me, and when I was back in the ER less than 48 hours later, I handed the envelope back and he told me I was a good girl for not opening it. Demeaning aside, he couldn’t tell I had opened it, scanned the letter, and sealed it back up. But it’s a thing – they don’t like patients seeing their own records.) Which has to be faxed.

 

The last time I had to send a fax it was okay because I had a job with a fax machine and they ignored people sending the occasional personal fax because their fax plan was bulk or something.

 

This can’t wait until I can get back into the doctor and ask for a referral to someone more accessible. That doesn’t look good for me, either, but in the meantime my entire torso is ballooning out, so none of my corsets fit properly to provide back support. I can no longer pass as male because even the boatiest shirt and corset and binder cannot suppress the shape underneath. I ended up in tears before the doctors because I was sitting on the car, waiting for the people in the park next to me to finish up so I could get in, and one of them was like “hurry up the lady is waiting to get into her car”. Tears. I was wearing my favourite “masculine” outfit, which still makes me androgyne at best. But.

The pimples are back. Nobody knew why I didn’t grow out of them until they disappeared when the periods stopped. I had enough pimples to get a PCOS diagnosis without imaging. They were gone. They’re back. That’s the most minor thing.

The real reason I had to fight so hard to have my periods suppressed in the first place was because I had them every 3-4 months. I had one week migraine-free, from the last day of bleeding, and then it came back, and it just got worse, and worse, and worse, and when it was so bad I couldn’t eat and was taking 2 ibuprofen an hour just to get through work, I knew that maybe the bleeding would start soon. Then, the week before through to the day before the bleeding stopped, I had dizziness and nausea, and would throw up anything. (I used to just throw up once, on the third day, but it, too, got worse with time.) To even get access to the Implanon, I had to get a boyfriend and parade him in front of the doctor and say we were having unprotected sex. This was at the clinic specially catering to gender minorities and people with disabilities. (They don’t see me now, because I can’t ring to make an appointment. Which is fine by me, really, but it’s still annoying.) You know, people who might have very important other reasons to be suppressing periods.

 

All this I have again, but now? Now, after having had no periods for four years, and then bleeding so long, and now going through this again, things that I didn’t even know were off then are bugging me. The bloating, for one. The fact that my breasts are stretched out and bubbly, going up a size every two days. My knee, which used to only hurt the week before, and only after a knee injury at 16, now hurts all the time. I used to not sleep for the last few days before the bleeding, and now, I’m not sleeping for ever. Some of this took years to wear off before, so gradually I didn’t notice until like, I was shopping and was handed an XS instead of an XL. Some things I put down to other things, until this go-round highlighted how tied in they are, like the random vomiting with dizziness (as opposed to the vomiting with pain from the paracetamol).

 

So it’s important that this is fast-tracked, for me, because even if I didn’t cover the bathroom mirror with angel tarot cards and makeup guides so I don’t have to see all this, it’s impacting my ability to minimise my pain. Which means I’m trawling through the internet, being like ‘how do I send a fax?’. I sure as hell do not want to be sending a referral for a hysterectomy through the post office, either. Although I have just had a look at the post office website and you can’t even search for locations which have a fax, so maybe they don’t do that any more. The library does not offer faxing any more, either.

 

But seriously, I know it’s meant to be cheaper to have an online receptionist, but seriously?  Kinda out of options here.

 

Things The Internet Says I Have

  • Rheumatic fever
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Inflamed kidneys
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Social dysphoria
  • Rejection-sensitive dysphoria
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Autism (well, I was diagnosed in school, but DECS aren’t great about handing out proof so it goes here and not there)

 

The doctors say “It’s probably neurological,” even though I asked for tests for neurological and auto-immune disorders and was told that because I had seen a neurologist once, they weren’t necessary.

 

And remember, everything can be fixed with physio! Even if you can’t get there and home again. And just because one doctor said something it’s not actually true if it’s not convenient (like how I was diagnosed as allergic to paracetamol, paracetamol makes me throw up and get a fever and prolonged dosing gives me a rash, but because paracetamol comes in stronger doses than ibuprofen…)

/sarcasm

 

Things I have actually been diagnosed with (that other doctors do or do not believe):

 

  • conversion disorder (mutism)
  • PTSD
  • PCOS
  • DSPS
  • sliding hiatal hernia
  • cardiomegaly
  • gender dysphoria
  • scoliosis and spondylosis at T7-8
  • migraines

 

Things I am allergic to (that doctors do or do not believe even though I have documented allergic reactions to all of these):

  • Milk and milk products (inc. lactose, whey)
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Apples
  • Citrus
  • Pumpkin
  • Paracetamol
  • Paroxetine
  • Latex
  • Bee stings
  • Avocado
  • Cashew nuts

This list has actually grown in the last few years, but increasing sensitivity to things that weren’t sensitivities before isn’t actually a symptom of anything or worth looking into.

(also /sarcasm)

 

I don’t know how to make people listen to me. I can’t yell at them. I can’t show much weakness, like bursting into tears, because all that would get me is committed, and the reason I’m not allowed prescription painkillers is apparently “[I] wouldn’t like being committed”, so apparently, that isn’t an option.

(more /sarcasm)

 

Symptoms I have that haven’t been addressed, tested, or looked at:

  • pain on physical activity in both wrists (so like, typing and knitting)
  • pain in both knees
  • sciatica-like/stress fracture-like pain in both lower legs
  • right shoulder weakness with frequent dislocations
  • Lhermitte’s sign in cervical spine
  • skin hypersensitivity
  • white shiny patches on my tongue

 

Symptoms I have that have been looked at but don’t have a cause (and therefore shouldn’t be there or it’s just because of the conversion disorder)

  • repetitive pain under ribs (present with no change after gall bladder removal, i was not given a choice about that or given any assistance about changing my diet, which is fine because i can barely eat anyway) – my ribs actually crunch if i take a deep breath, which is a thing
  • tenderness in lower stomach area (below navel, to the point where I can’t tie a dressing gown, rest anything on my tummy, or wear heavy clothes, or sleep with a doona)
  •  constant, repetitve pain below that on both sides, mirror image (not endometriosis, apparently, because we had that entirely unnecessary procedure), which is worse if I sit, have my right leg anything but straight out, or have to urinate
  • related, urination is either more frequent or significantly difficult, is often red- or green- tinged
  • extreme fatigue (i went to a concert, i sat on the floor, i slept for fourteen hours because i sat on the floor somewhere for a few hours and it made me tired)
  • i’m still losing weight and it’s been four years since the pain started

 

But, you know, not important. It doesn’t matter that the transvaginal ultrasounds and pap smears hurt (they’re not meant to, but I can assure you that they did, and psychologically having someone up in that area was not great either), because the fact that they found nothing means that nothing at all is wrong, because everything can be diagnosed from sticking a wand up a part of anatomy I try very hard to pretend isn’t there. Everything. Ever.I’ve never seen my kidneys on any scan I’ve had, so if something’s wrong with them, well, blah. If the entire inside of my pancreas is a skeletonised black hole of doom, well, we don’t know that either. (I don’t know that it could be, but it hasn’t been shown to be normal). The one blood test I have had in this entire time (I KNOW RIGHT) couldn’t rule out anything but proved that I am actually still capable of feeding myself because despite being, apparently, underweight (because the BMI is everything, as we all know it isn’t), I was completely nourished but could have lupus or arthritis or something. Thyroid issues can affect talking because that’s where the thyroid is, but the test showing altered thyroid-related numbers was, you know, not important. I was promised a further test in twelve weeks to check, but, you know, doctor was on leave again. Or something.

 

Part of my most recent doctor’s visit was sublimated because, after promising that he wouldn’t send a letter to my GP until I had seen and approved it, my GP had a letter from my psychiatrist, and she randomly decided that was more important than listening to me about why I was actually there. She decided that she would get my records and explain things to me better so I understood it. Never mind that the letter says I have things I don’t have (for example, the psychiatrist decided, with no tests, and being a psychiatrist, that I have a duodenum. Everyone has a duodenum, or is supposed to, but him saying I have one means that he tells everyone that I need reflux medication, because he’s a psychiatrist. The reason for my hernia? Throwing up at old-work seven to ten times a day for three months. The reason the weight loss didn’t stop when the throwing up did? No idea.) Never mind I was there to ask for a referral to a new psychiatrist because he was on leave again and I am in crisis and need help now.

 

The point?

 

If I listened to the internet, I would probably have a lot of things I don’t, but I would know what the things I do are.

 

If I listened to my doctors, I would have a few sessions of physio and would magically not have a brain disorder and the pain would be both neurological and not neurological but the physio would have fixed that too, because physio fixes everything.

/sarcasm

 

In other news, the Roman Catholic Church has started releasing and supporting the releasing of articles encouraging acceptance and treatment for gender dysphoria because transitioning, however people choose to do it or not, is part of that individual’s journey to spiritual wholeness.

The Roman Catholic Church is more progressive than what I have for a medical team.

Chew on that. (If they could put out a thing telling people that existing is not consent for them to touch me at Mass, then maybe I’d even go.)