Just Another Fat, Maladjusted Transguy? Seriously?

I recently saw a gynecological oncologist for a consultation. I had a full hysterectomy three years ago for severe, recurrent endometriosis and adenomyosis, but I still have some pelvic pain and bowel symptoms, so I needed to make sure I wasn’t overlooking anything, especially since my mom has a rare cancer closely related to ovarian cancer.  I also wanted to know if it would be safe for me to take testosterone should I decide to do so.

I picked this doctor in particular when I found her website aimed at FTM patients. She’s a lesbian herself, and she deals with gynecological cancers and does hysterectomies for transmen. When I got her new-patient intake form in the mail, it included five gender options (F, M, MTF, FTM, and I [intersexed]).

Perfect, right?

The short answer is yes, testosterone would be safe and possibly even beneficial for me with respect to my endometriosis, and it could improve my bone density, since I’m technically “menopausal” (no ovaries and not on hormone replacement.) As far as my risk for ovarian cancer, I’ve already done what I can to minimize that threat by having the hysterectomy-oophrectomy, and the symptoms I’ve been experiencing are very likely to be from scarring and active endometriosis. This doctor doesn’t manage transguys’ hormones, but I wasn’t asking her to — I’ve already got an awesome endocrinologist who’ll be happy to manage hormonal transition for me if I decide to go that route. So I thought, great, I’ve got the answers I came for. But then…

Then she looked me in the eye and said, “You need to join Overeaters Anonymous and lose that weight. Let’s be honest. You have never quite fit in. I know that. It’s easy for us to turn to food for comfort. I’ve struggled with it, you struggle with it. It’s difficult and lonely to be queer. So you overeat. It’s an addiction and you can only get better with a program.”

I started to shut down, rolling my eyes inside and thinking, great, a lecture about being fat from a skinny doctor who is trying to tell me she’s just like me — we’re both “big old dykes” (her phrasing) — so obviously she knows and understands. I think I nodded and agreed that I was exercising regularly and would like to be slimmer, which is usually the best defense when confronted with unasked for medical advice about being fat.

That was when she dropped this bomb: “You don’t want to be seen as just another fat, maladjusted transguy.”

What?

Seriously?

Seriously?!?

I went home feeling vaguely irked, but as the days have passed, I’ve gotten more and more annoyed. What a judgmental, transphobic, fat-phobic, horrible thing to say!

Obviously I’m not going back to her, and I’m still glad there is a lesbian gynecological oncologist who has five genders on her intake form and has a sub-practice doing hysterectomies for transguys, but…

But what the fuck? Seriously! What. The. Fuck?

The whole thing makes me a little incoherent. And a little — no, a lot — self-conscious. Is that how other people see me? Fat and maladjusted? Is it my “maladjustment” that makes me fat? Or trans? Or is it the other way around?

And then I get angry. Because, you know? Fuck that. Yes, I am fat. I’m a big damn guy, but that doesn’t mean I’m an addict or socially maladjusted or psychologically damaged. And I’m trans. Ditto. I’m far better adjusted now than I ever was when I was trying to pretend to be a woman I wasn’t, and I was fat then, too.

It pisses me off that that doctor’s comment is there in my headspace now whenever I catch sight of myself in the mirror. Whenever I eat a meal. Fat, maladjusted loser, I hear, in the most condemning of tones. And I have to fight it off, and I seethe a little, and I stumble over this new landmine of self-doubt.

Just another fat, maladjusted transguy.

Funny, but I don’t really know any fat, maladjusted transguys. I know a skinny-as-a rail, hyperactive transguy, a tall-and-husky, deeply introspective transguy, and a short-and-athletic, steady-as-stone transguy. And there’s me, fat, to be sure, and certainly some flavor of transguy, but maladjusted?

Maladjust this! by nenenezuko
Maladjust this!
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~ by Nezu on 16 April 2011.

14 Responses to “Just Another Fat, Maladjusted Transguy? Seriously?”

  1. I’m reading this out to my girlfriend, and almost in time with your own words, she’s saying “What the fuck? What?!?”

    I guess that this doctor may have considered very carefully her attitude towards gender and sexuality pretty thoroughly, but still carries a big old whack of body hate that she’s inflicting on her patients. I’m always really ashamed when any health professional lets their own prejudice interfere with the well-being of their patients. I’m sorry she treated you that way – good on you for making the decision to see someone else.

    • Knowing I have allies sharing my outrage from the other side of the world (and hearing the phrase “good on you” which my grandmother who lived many years in Australia used to say) really makes me smile. Thanks.

      Good observation about the doctor’s motives. I guess it’s a reminder for me that enlightened about some things doesn’t mean enlightened about everything.

      Are you a health professional, too? Don’t worry, I don’t think this one doctor’s behavior tars all health professionals with the same brush.

  2. That? That right there is some bullshit. That is fate hate, and completely inappropriate but too damn common in medical professionals, who should bloody well know better. I’m sorry you had to encounter that, and I’m glad you’re planning on not going back.

    • Thanks, FSP. It is surprisingly awesome to hear you calling this bullshit for what it is. It’s like – well, FSP sees it, too, so it must be true. Makes me feel really supported and validated. ❤

  3. Wow. Just… wow.

    *hugs*

  4. That behavior is totally unacceptable. I would report her to the BBB, and leave her a scathing review on yelp. Other people deserve to know what they may be getting into when they go to her for care. I am sorry you have experienced this type of disrespect, hopefully you can rid yourself of her voice and know that other are unlikely to see you as maladjusted. I certainly do not. However, after a visit like you described I may need therapy just to get over going to the doctor…trusting someone to help heal you, who then harms you….now THAT is likely to make a person maladjusted…

    • I hadn’t thought of that, but yeah, maybe I should leave a review for her, not out of vindictiveness, but because it could be a kindness to any other fat potential patients of hers.

      Thanks for not seeing me as maladjusted, too. *shakes head* You’re right, maybe I should send her a bill from my psychologist, to whom I have already ranted a bit about this situation.

  5. I have never thought “maladjusted” – I’ve thought surprising well adjusted… creative, loving, generous… all those things I have thought. I know you, she doesn’t, and, the Doc is a medical doc not a psych. doc so – well – I’m going to start praying that she finds her anger and faces her own ‘maladjustment’ so that she will stop reflecting her own self-judgement on others.

    • Thanks, Rev T. It’s amazingly affirming to see all these responses that say, dude, you’re not the maladjusted one, she is. Thanks for being in my corner.

  6. Just no.

  7. I had a similarly unsettling doctor’s visit a few yeas ago, when I went in to be tested for a learning disability and walked out with an evaluation that mentioned the possibility of schizotypal personality disorder. That doctor kept trying to pressure me into taking assertiveness classes, because she thought I was pathologically shy and passive. She did not see the irony when I said that I was asserting myself right then by saying that I didn’t need an assertiveness class!

    Doctors are trained to recognize and treat pathological symptoms. Sometimes they get a little bit carried away with this and start seeing disease and disorder in everything. I am sorry that you had to deal with that. I think that doctor’s assessment says way more about her than it says about you.

    You are certainly not “just” another trans guy, much less a maladjusted one. You are delightfully unique, and if she cannot see that, it is her loss.

  8. I remember when you told me what happened and how totally idiotic this doctor sounded. Clearly someone who has body issues and projects that onto patients.

    I still cannot figure out her bit about overeating. I have known you LOTS of years and have NEVER seen you binge or overeat in response to the stuff you have dealt with. My poor practical brain still cannot figure out how that comment had anything to do with you – which tells me it had NOTHING to do with you.

    And for the record, you deal with the health issues in your life. (Unlike other folks I know who are in denial.) When you see yourself in the mirror, see someone who knows how deal with life, who is strong and healthy despite the bucket of stuff you got handed at birth, and who is handling the changes in his life amazingly well.

    Because that is who I see. 🙂

  9. That doctor sucks, and I’m sorry they said that to you, but it happens all the time. I can’t speak to the trans issues, but I can speak to the fat shaming. I once had a doctor tell me I was too fat for her to feel my ovaries during a gynecological exam. That’s complete bullshit — she was just a lazy, incompetent doctor. She also told me she couldn’t ask for me to have better blood work, but that I still needed to lose weight.

    And this is why I go to the doctor as little as possible, because no matter why you’re there, they have to talk to me about morbid obesity, as if losing weight will cure everything that is wrong. I must say though, my experience at Howard Brown, an LGBT clinic in Chicago, has been mostly positive, but I’ve learned to be very assertive about what I need and don’t need when receiving medical care.

    Hopefully, you can find another practitioner who won’t act like that. Best of luck.

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