How have you felt excluded, mistreated, or misunderstood in healthcare servcies in relation to your Intersections?
I’ve had so many traumatic medical experiences that this project has been really hard to be engaged with. I’ve had lots of delays, even with the help to share my experience.
The main things that come to mind are inappropriate comments/touching about genitals and secondary sex characteristics and privacy issues. People who are not part of small communities don’t realise how much people listen in public places or how connected people are to everyone else. I’ve also had clinicians assume that because I’m an LGBTI consumer, I don’t care about the gender of clinicians. That can be very uncomfortable coming from a strict religious background.
I can relay one excellent experience I had specifically in SESLHD. I had to see a gynaecologist a few years ago, and she made a point of booking me in at the end of the day specifically because of the potential for confidentiality issues. I didn’t even have to ask. She was really communicative and explained everything that was potentially problematic as well as reasons why this or that might/might not be the diagnosis and what the options were going forward (some of which would have been in the main hospital and much more exposing). It was the epitome of shared decision making, and I also felt very at ease with the exam because of her level of communication and avoidance of gendered language for anatomy.
What suggestions do you have for healthcare providers and/or the health system could be improved?
- The ability for providers to change demographic information in systems. When the system doesn’t list the gender with which the patient identifies and instead has their assigned sex that they don’t identify with, providers have often had to call the medical records department. The medical records staff often don’t know the anti-discrimination legislation or what information is even available and argue with the provider, “have you checked their Medicare card? the gender has to match their Medicare card!”
- The ability to have a preferred name in the electronic record systems that shows up alongside a legal name
- Creating a culture where people check preferred name and gender prior to calling out in reception areas
- Creating a culture of confidentiality (we still have a problem with clinicians talking about patients in coffee shops near hospitals, let alone in corridors and lifts in clinical settings) – we need to take examples from the US standards in this regard.
What advice might you give to other people facing similar experiences who are seeking healthcare?
It’s difficult in an emergency situation, but if you have a choice, I always recommend getting word-of-mouth referrals from others who have similar life experience, taking a friend who is very with it, and having important information succinctly communicated in referral letters that are sent ahead of time. Having to explain yourself in the moment is never a good idea.