Sam Dylan Finch+ Your Authors @samdylanfinch Words on mental health & being human. 🌦 Writer. Optimist. Gentle soul. 🍓 Editor @Healthline, Columnist @Greatist 🌿 May. 24, 2019 3 min read + Your Authors

I want to explain what we're talking about when we say that transgender people need anti-discrimination protections in health care.

Because I think some of you really don't understand what this means, or might perceive our reaction as dramatic. But it's not.


I remember when I lived in Michigan and a trans woman that I knew had to call 911, because a serious wound she had (from an unrelated medical condition) started hemorrhaging overnight.

One of the EMTs went upstairs to her room, and when that EMT realized she was transgender, was visibly disgusted and left the room. Her mom overheard the EMT mocking her as he spoke to the other EMT, referring to her as an "it."

But the worst part of it was that, when it was decided that she needed to go to the hospital, they made her walk down the stairs herself without helping her. She was hemorrhaging blood from a leg wound. They stood impatiently and just watched her struggle.

That's not even the worst story that I know of. A transgender woman in DC named Tyra Hunter was seriously injured in a car accident, and ambulance workers, upon realizing she was trans, outright refused to treat her. They mocked her. She later DIED from those wounds.

A trans man named Robert Eads died of ovarian cancer after TWENTY SEPARATE DOCTORS refused to treat him. Lambda Legal reported that one of the doctors said the cancer diagnosis should make Eads “deal with the fact that he is not a real man.”

I have known trans people who have been mocked while they were gravely ill in a hospital bed. I have known trans people who were outright turned away by doctors, or have had pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions that were desperately needed.

I need you to understand that when we say that these protections are a matter of life and death, we mean that LITERALLY. Transgender people have already died in utterly preventable and tragic ways because medical "professionals" turned their backs on us when we needed help.

When I was psychiatrically hospitalized, I had transphobic providers who REFUSED to give me access to my hormones, claiming that perhaps it wasn't my obsessive-compulsive disorder that was causing my mental anguish, but testosterone.

This is not about politics. This is about fundamental human rights. I want you to imagine getting into a serious car accident, and as you are literally dying before someone's eyes, they are MOCKING you when you thought they had come to help you.

I want you to imagine getting a cancer diagnosis, and going to doctor after doctor, TWENTY TIMES, to no avail. Imagine one callously remarking that maybe the cancer would teach you a lesson. Imagine the time is ticking, and no matter how much you plead, no one will help.

I want you to imagine the humiliation of hemorrhaging blood, and being made to crawl down a staircase, while two ambulance workers that you called for help refer to you as "it" and look at you with disgust.

I don't care about your "politics" right now. Fuck politics. This is whether or not you would cosign that level of cruelty. Whether the lives lost, the families mourning, the suffering endured, truly mean nothing to you.

And these are just the stories we know of. There are more transgender people who simply didn't call 911, didn't go to the doctor, didn't ask for help because they truly believed that no one would help them. Because it was too traumatic to take that risk again.

And honestly, if the politics you abide by lead you to believe that this is in any way acceptable, your political affiliations are morally bankrupt and so are you. If your political allegiances lead you to that depth of cruelty, I have questions for you. Real fucking questions.

Do you believe that's how another human being should be treated? Do you believe, in a civil society, this is how medical professionals should behave? That someone should be left to die? Laughed at as they are helpless and afraid for their life? Would you wish that on someone?

And if you believe the stripping away of these protections is anything other than utterly barbaric, here's the reality: Your contempt for transgender people — so much so that you would co-sign their deaths — shows exactly which one of us is truly disgusting.

You can follow @samdylanfinch.


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