Guest Post by Patrick Califia

Patrick Califia posted this yesterday on Facebook, and I thought it was vital to share.

I did something today that was really important. It was embarrassing, stressful, maybe even traumatic. But it was still very important for me to make sure that I showed up so that it could happen. And I want to urge ALL of my friends who share some of my anatomy to listen to what I have to say about it.
I’m talking about getting a Pap smear.

I’ve been going to get these damn tests ever since I had access to medical care, sometime in my twenties. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, being visible as a dyke meant that I got universally shitty treatment from doctors. For some reason, gynecologists were the worst. It didn’t matter if they were men or women, either. Female doctors seemed to feel that they had to be as homophobic and mean as their male counterparts to prove they belonged in the boys’ club of medicine.

Josephine Butler referred to the speculum as “an iron penis.” She was a Victorian feminist who agitated against laws that allowed the police to confine women under suspicion of prostitution and keep them confined indefinitely. Women arrested under these laws were subjected to pelvic exams, often with dirty speculums that might have transmitted the very diseases they were accused of harboring. At the time, diagnosis of a “venereal disease” was not accurate, and there was no treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea–unless you count taking compounds made from mercury that could be life-threatening. She succeeded in arousing working-class men to support a women’s cause by using this kind of colorful rhetoric.

Today, speculums (the medical instrument that allows a doctor to open and look inside a vagina or rectum) are made out of plastic. My doctor today showed me how she could insert a flashlight into the one she was using, to illuminate my cervix. She made sure to use the smallest one that would do the job. She told me what was going to happen before she touched me, and there was no unnecessary probing or infliction of pain. I find the test painful anyway just because I don’t like it, and when the long Q-tip is taking a tissue sample from the os or opening of the cervix, it makes me feel sick to my stomach, it hurts that much.

It is even painful for me to write about my own anatomy. I don’t like the fact that I have these internal organs. I have never wanted to have this anatomy. It messes with my sense of my own gender to know that there are unwanted, female organs inside of my body. I am concerned by how many of my readers will be disgusted with me for talking about them, or see me as less of a man because I am being open about possessing them.

Still, this is my body. My body that gives me pain every day from fibromyalgia. But my body has also been with me through every part of my life, and it has never let me down. My body survived being hungry during childhood, and being abused. It survived years of queer-bashing, awful underpaind jobs, poor housing, and street harassment. My body has taken me on amazing journeys outside of the United States and within the realm of sexual exploration. My body has been like a wonderful machine, supporting my consciousness, always following my mind when it wanted to have a particular adventure. I love my body for being there for me no matter what illness, overwork, educational endeavor, or trip through the world of pleasure that befell me. I am so lucky to have a body inherited from strong people who basically walked across the United States so they could live out their religious principles. Nothing stopped them–not poverty, violent persecution, illness, malnutrition, and the crushing labor of establishing a new territory. (These people also did a lot of things I am ashamed of, but that is a topic for another article.)

How do you feel about your body? How far would you go to take care of your physical self, or what acts of gratitude would you commit to let your body know you feel grateful and loving toward your own flesh? That was what I did today.

Listen to me. Cervical cancer is an AWFUL disease. I watched my mother die of breast cancer because she found a lump in her breast and ignored it for ten years. Don’t let yourself contract a fatal disease that can be treated if it is detected early enough. That is what a Pap smear is for. It is to save your life. None of us–no matter how gender dysphoric we are–none of us deserve to have our lives shortened because we are different.

I have lost track of how many butch dykes, gender-queer people, and transmen I have taken for their first Pap smear. I have held people’s hands while they cried because they hated the test so much. I have gotten them high before the test and taken them home for consoling sex after it happened. I have listened to stories of childhood abuse so awful it would scorch your soul to listen to it. We are singled out for humiliation and mistreatment because people think if they break us or beat us down, we will stop trying to “act like men.” Of course, it doesn’t work, the only thing they can do is make us shut up about how we feel toward our own genders. We can never stop feeling the way that we do.

Coming out as a trans person was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt more ashamed of myself for being trans than I had ever felt about being gay or even being a sadomasochist. I think in part this was because I could not explain WHY I felt this way. I had to confront a lot of negative messages I heard about myself as I was growing up to be able to replace that shame with pride and self-validation. it may seem ironic to you, but one of the ways I know that I was able to accept myself as a man and publicly come out as trans is the medical test I got today.

Maybe it took five minutes, maybe it was ten, I lost track of time. I disassociated. Writing about it now is one of the ways I can come back into my adult self and feel like I am okay in the present. Why would I encourage anybody else to go through something that was this upsetting?

Because I want you to save your own life.

Yes, it is that simple. Please save your own life. Okay, so you don’t feel happy or comfortable in the body that you got when you were born. I understand that. And, at the same time, if we are going to be activists for life, building community, that life needs to be as long as possible. Goddess knows that 80 or 100 years is not enough to shift public ignorance and malevolence toward sex- and gender-minority people. But in the 63 years I have been alive, I have seen HUGE social change. That is the reward of activism. You get to find out that standing up to “the system” works. So it’s worth it to stick around, my younger friends. It really is.

And if you need somebody to get you to the appointment, be your advocate while you get examined, and soothe your fears or your upset after it is over, you know how to find me. I care about how it feels to be violated by a medical procedure. But it’s worth it. Because none of us deserve to die in pain just because we are differently-gendered. Right, my brothers and non-sisters? Take care of the body that you live in now, because that body has been through a lot, and needs somebody (you) to be loving toward it.
Finally, I want to thank my doctor at Outside In for making this experience as simple and non-traumatic as possible. She is a saint as far as I am concerned. I look at her tired face and wonder how much human misery she witnesses every day, at a clinic that specializes in homeless people and trans folks. And so I think somebody should just tell her, job well done. You made it possible for me to do this, and I am so grateful to be touched by medical hands that are not full of hatred. Blessings upon you and your house.

WI Trans Youth Study!

This is so exciting – a study of the needs of trans youth in WI. Please get the word out.

WI TRANS YOUTH STUDY

Are you a transgender or gender nonconforming young person living in Wisconsin? Make sure your voice is counted in a statewide survey to understand what resources are needed to improve the lives of trans and gender nonconforming youth!

We want to make Wisconsin a better place to live for trans and gender nonconforming youth. In order to do that, the Transgender Youth Resource Network of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition are working together on a research project to learn about transgender and gender non-conforming youth’s access to and experiences with resources and support. We’re specifically focusing on what resources you’re currently using, what resources you need, and what barriers you experience in accessing these resources.

We do not anticipate any direct benefits from participating, but the data from this study may benefit trans youth by improving the resources available, removing barriers to those resources, and identifying new areas of need. There are some risks, which include slight discomfort in telling personal stories and confidentiality risk if sharing identifiable information in open-ended questions and providing contact information for compensation. Also, participants sometimes describe participating in surveys as beneficial because they can share personal experiences they may not otherwise have the opportunity to share.

You are eligible to participate in this study if you are age 12-22, identify as trans or gender nonconforming, and live at least part of the year in Wisconsin. Participation is voluntary. The survey should take about 15-20 minutes to complete. You will be paid for your time for participating.

Take the survey by copying the link (both below):

 

https://uwmadison.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9NVB75Jr4oa1R6l

 

For more information, please contact the Study Investigators:

Dr. Brittany Allen – bjallen@pediatrics.wisc.edu

Dr. Jennifer Rehm – jrehm@pediatrics.wisc.edu

This research study has been approved by the University of Wisconsin-Madison IRB.

“I Touch Myself” Becomes Breast Cancer PSA

The Divynyls’ Chrissy Amphlett died of breast cancer last year and she wanted her best known song to do some good. The song of female desire is now a song of self-care:

= why women rock, pt. 8010.

Trans Health Publication Needs Your Help

Jamison Green & Maddie Deutsch have created a document that will be free and shareable with healthcare professonals — but they need to buy the distribution rights from the publisher. They need $2500 to do it, & they’re well on their way, so please do contribute if you can.

Here’s a special appeal from Jamison Green about why they’re raising the money now & not waiting:

We are restricted from distributing the article for one year, and the audience for the journal is pretty specific, but the content of our piece is (we believe) important to many, and we wanted to get it out as quickly as possible, particularly since work on EMR standards is proceeding apace, and we don’t want to be barred from the conversation by virtue of not having a weighty voice. The authors of this article have publicly shared these ideas previously from many other platforms (public lectures, personal consultations, etc.), and through work done by the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF. Even the CDC has begun to take up some of the concepts. But the value of being able to show (for example) a hospital administrator a copy of an article in a peer-reviewed journal can often carry the needed weight to make a needed change happen, when the advice from an individual might be ignored or disregarded because it was perceived to be only one voice. We know that the more voices carrying the message, the farther it is likely to get; if we thought we could afford to wait until next April when we will have the right to distribute, we would have waited, and continued to share the information at medical conferences and through other media as we have been doing. But we think we can do better by distributing the article more quickly, and we wanted to engage the wider community in sharing the knowledge, too. Again, I appreciate your help!

You can read more at the GoFundMe site for it, too.

Serophobia

Healthline recently partnered with the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation (TRBF) to launch “You’ve Got This” – a video campaign that encourages HIV patients to give hope and advice to the recently diagnosed.

So I thought it was long overdue to introduce you to the term serophobia, which is, most simply, fear of & prejudice against people who are HIV+. Here’s a good post about what it is and why it is over at Daily Kos, and here’s another article about the ways that a blanket discrimination against having sex with people who are HIV+ just doesn’t make sense.

Those of us who are old enough remember serophobia in its most blatant form. Our next door neighbor never met a grandchild because of it – one of her sons became HIV+ and another of her sons refused to visit him or anyone else in the household – a policy he kept up for the next 20 years.

But here are some of the basic mythologies & superstitions about HIV, & even those of us who “know better” need to learn what people who are HIV+ are up against, from the Daily Kos article. Continue reading “Serophobia”

Appleton Domestic Partner Benefits

I just got this note from Katie Belander of FAIR WI. As you all know, I was one of the “local LGBT leaders” who spoke at this Appleton Common Council meeting in favor of the city granting domestic partner benefits.

Earlier this month, I was proud to stand with local LGBT and allied leaders when the Appleton Common Council granted health care and related benefits to the registered domestic partners of city employees by a vote of 10 to 6.  This is a major step forward for Appleton, the Fox Valley and Wisconsin.

But anti-fairness forces are already gearing up to try to undo the progress we have made together.

Saturday morning, the Appleton Post Crescent ran a citizen’s letter calling domestic partner benefits a “cancer [that] must be killed before it spreads” by overturning “this immoral and fiscally imprudent policy through direct legislation by referendum.”

As we learned with the state domestic partnership registry, no victory will go unchallenged. And at Fair Wisconsin, no victory will go undefended.

If you can, please make a donation to FAIR WI so we’ve got the resources to fight this one.

Appleton City Employees Get Domestic Partner Benefits

It looks like such a humdrum shot, doesn’t it? City Council votes are notoriously unexciting, even if and when the debate gets a little heated. That is, the votes go up on the screen, and no one hoots or hollers or storms out: they just move on to the next subject, like the width of roads or the proposal to add a bike lane.

Still, this shot is of the board that gave Appleton city employees domestic partner benefits for the very first time. A few elected officials spoke eloquently and bravely, and a few community members did too.

A huge congratulations to Appleton for leveling the playing field for employees who are in same sex relationships and registered as domestic partners with the state of Wisconsin.

Institute of Medicine Recommends Studying LGBT Health Needs

& That’s not an April Fool’s joke! Honestly, you’d expect it would be, but it’s not: the IOM released a report that in order to address LGBT health disparities, LGBT health issues need to be studied further.

Seems nutty, right, to find out what people need in order to provide it.

Tammy Baldwin will be introducing an Act (the Ending LGBT Health Disparities Act) based on the IOM’s findings.

Continue reading “Institute of Medicine Recommends Studying LGBT Health Needs”

Don’t Be Distracted: Women’s Lives Are at Stake

Egypt is fascinating and amazing and cool, and it’s easy to enjoy the good news of democracy in progress.

That said, ours is being battered here in the US.

The “forcible rape” language has not yet been removed, for instance.

And health care for poor women (Title X) is on the chopping block as an “austerity measure.” Because we all know keeping poor women from contraception, HIV tests and abortion will make for a better world. Cost effective? Not at all. Better to prevent HIV and various STIs than to have to treat them later.

Write your politicians, write Chris Smith, and tell them to cut it out.
Then, join Planned Parenthood or NARAL or some other organization that will be fighting harder than usual for women’s lives and women’s health for the next few years.

Discrimination by Medical Personnel

Sadly, a sickening case of discrimination just happened at a hospital in Indiana. This treatment is the kind we all fear.

Fordham Gets Hip

I went to Fordham for a split second, and it’s cool to see the university is finally giving health benefits to same-sex partners:

Faculty members fought for four years to extend equal benefits for every member of the faculty, regardless of sexual orientation. Previously, legally domiciled adults (LDAs) were not recognized in the faculty’s benefits package. This means that same-sex marriages and partnerships, including relationships between two men, two women, or between an unmarried man and woman, were not afforded the same benefits as marriages between heterosexual individuals.

What’s more interesting to me, & more precedent-setting, is the final sentence of the same paragraph:

LDA benefits also extend to faculty members who may be responsible for caring for an elderly parent or another dependent adult in their household.

Which is how it should be: anyone should be able to name their own dependent.

Not Vaccines

As it turns out, the risk of Autism has nothing to do with vaccination.
It has everything to do with the age of the mom, or in cases where the woman is younger, with the age of the father.

In an analysis of nearly five million births and more than 12,000 autism cases, every five-year increase in maternal age at delivery was associated with an 18% greater risk of the child later being diagnosed with autism, according to Janie Shelton, MPH, a doctoral student at the University of California Davis, and colleagues.

Mothers who gave birth when they were 40 or older had a 51% increased risk of having a child with autism compared with those who were 25 to 29, the largest age group (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.35 to 1.70), the researchers reported in the February issue of Autism Research.

Nature unfairly targets career women and guys who marry younger women. Go figure.

DSM V Preview

For those of you who are following the DSM revision controversy as it unfolds, here is a recently launched website by the Association for Women in Psychology Committee on Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis, spearheaded by Paula Caplan. It takes on the problems with a number of categories, including Gender Identity Disorder, Parental Alienation Syndrome, and Female Sexual Dysfunction.

Some highlights of the upcoming DSM V:

[1] The Paraphilias Subworkgroup is proposing two broad changes that affect all or several of the paraphilia diagnoses, in addition to various amendments to specific diagnoses. The first broad change follows from our consensus that paraphilias are not ipso facto psychiatric disorders. We are proposing that the DSM-5 make a distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. A paraphilia by itself would not automatically justify or require psychiatric intervention. A paraphilic disorder is a paraphilia that causes distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others. One would ascertain a paraphilia (according to the nature of the urges, fantasies, or behaviors) but diagnose a paraphilic disorder (on the basis of distress and impairment). In this conception, having a paraphilia would be a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder.

This approach leaves intact the distinction between normative and non-normative sexual behavior, which could be important to researchers, but without automatically labeling non-normative sexual behavior as psychopathological. It also eliminates certain logical absurdities in the DSM-IV-TR. In that version, for example, a man cannot be classified as a transvestite—however much he cross-dresses and however sexually exciting that is to him—unless he is unhappy about this activity or impaired by it. This change in viewpoint would be reflected in the diagnostic criteria sets by the addition of the word “Disorder” to all the paraphilias. Thus, Sexual Sadism would become Sexual Sadism Disorder; Sexual Masochism would become Sexual Masochism Disorder, and so on.

and

Transvestic Disorder
A. Over a period of at least six months, in a male, recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges, or sexual behaviors involving cross?dressing. [11]
B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Specify if: [12]
With Fetishism (Sexually Aroused by Fabrics, Materials, or Garments)
With Autogynephilia (Sexually Aroused by Thought or Image of Self as Female)

and

302.85 Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents or Adults
Gender Incongruence (in Adolescents or Adults) [1]
A. A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months duration, as manifested by 2* or more of the following indicators: [2, 3, 4]
1. a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (or, in young adolescents, the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [13, 16]

2. a strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender (or, in young adolescents, a desire to prevent the development of the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [17]

3. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender

4. a strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

5. a strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

6. a strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

Subtypes
With a disorder of sex development
Without a disorder of sex development
[14, 15, 16, 19]

and

For the adult criteria, we propose, on a preliminary basis, the requirement of only 2 indicators. This is based on a preliminary secondary data analysis of 154 adolescent and adults patients with GID compared to 684 controls (Deogracias et al., 2007; Singh et al., 2010). From a 27-item dimensional measure of gender dysphoria, the Gender Identity/Gender Dysphoria Questionnaire for Adolescents and Adults (GIDYQ), we extracted five items that correspond to the proposed A2-A6 indicators (we could not extract a corresponding item for A1). Each item was rated on a 5-point response scale, ranging from Never to Always, with the past 12 months as the time frame. For the current analysis, we coded a symptom as present if the participant endorsed one of the two most extreme response options (frequently or always) and as absent if the participant endorsed one of the three other options (never, rarely, sometimes). This yielded a true positive rate of 94.2% and a false positive rate of 0.7%. Because the wording of the items on the GIDYQ is not identical to the wording of the proposed indicators, further validational work will be required during field trials.

Continue reading “DSM V Preview”

Comedians Make the Point

“And the next day they were dead.”

Have people seen this video of Tom Duane arguing to cap the cost of shelters? It’s amazing.

Health Insurance

I’ve talked to a bunch of people about health insurance in this country but I want to talk about how it goes for someone like me.

I don’t think anyone can argue that I don’t contribute, am a deadbeat. I’m not poor enough to get Medicaid & I’m not old enough for Medicare. I want to pay my medical bills.

Now that I’m employed by a university, I can get good health insurance for $250/month.

As a freelancer, though my union, I could get shoddy health insurance for $1000/month.

That’s what Obama is trying to fix. Someone like me, who works part-time, or contractually, has very few options that are competitive as per a capitalist system.

It’s not socialist or anti-capitalist to want the free market to work.

Right now, however, it’s not: the health insurance companies have become a kind of monopoly, or trust, that enables only the biggest corporations and institutions to get a fair shake.

I’d like health insurance that’s affordable and good without being part of a corporation. From things I read, I get the idea that more & more people are employed in the way I am. We are not unproductive members of society. We’re often entrepreneurs, self-employed, or artists of some stripe or another.

I’m tired of being treated like a second-class citizen because I’m on the cusp of tradtional & non-traditional employment.

America Needs Health Insurance

If you know anyone who is buying the bullshit about involuntary euthanasia for older people or *whatever* bullshit is out there, just have them watch this:

You can read about it, too, at HuffPo.

As an American, it makes me ashamed, very, very ashamed. Please give Obama your support, and your representatives an earful (especially those of you in those goddamn blue dog Democrat districts).

Matt Barber’s Lobotomy Was Covered, Apparently

Matt Barber, the former policy director of Concerned Women for America, is raising the bogeyman of funding for trans genital surgeries being covered by the health care proposed by the Obama administration.

As a commenter at Pam’s House Blend has pointed out, however, there is no such plan.

An article at Oregon magazine quotes some of the language Barber is interpreting as being about transgender people/diagnoses:

“Page 972 of the House version of the bill (H.R. 3200) provides for “standards, as appropriate, for the collection of accurate data on health and health care” based on “sex, sexual orientation [and] gender identity.” The Senate draft indicates that the government will “detect and monitor trends in health disparities,” requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to “develop standards for the measurement of gender.” (i.e., officially recognize subjectively self-determined “transgender” or “transsexual” gender identities). It further mandates ‘‘participation in the institutions’ programs of individuals and groups from…different genders and sexual orientations.”

which comes straight from Barber’s article/press release which also appeared in Canada’s Free Press (which bills itself as a “conservative free press”). The bolded bits are Barber’s interpretation of what the House & Senate versions actually say.

You can email Matt Barber directly at jmattbarber@comcast.net.

Needs Health Care

Please show your support for President Obama’s efforts to fix healthcare in this country.

No More Abstinence Only Funding

This morning, the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor HHS) eliminated traditional sources of funding for abstinence-only programs by passing the appropriations bill for FY 2010.

The Labor HHS subcommittee and the Obama Administration has recognized what we already knew: abstinence-only sex education programs do not work. The evidence is irrefutable that spending for abstinence-only education is not only wasteful, but also the programs put young women’s health at risk. A 2004 study by the House Committee on Government Reform, conducted at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-30-CA) found that over 80% of the curricula used in the largest federally funded abstinence-only programs contained “false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.” >In addition to pulling the plug on funding for failed abstinence-only sex education programs, the bill eliminates a ban on syringe exchange programs, which have been proven to be a highly effective strategy for preventing HIV.

(via email from FeministMajority.org)