Austen Crowder

Interview with Erin Vaught on transphobia at an Indiana hospital

Filed By Austen Crowder | July 26, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ball memorial hospital, lawsuit, lawyer, transgender

Austen Crowder: What happened?

Erin Vaught: Last week I was in Indy to see my doc and told him I was coughing up a lot of blood, and without divulging what possible conditions could have caused it (privacy reasons) he told me to call him if it gets worse and that I had to figure out how to pay for an MRI and various other tests. On Sunday I coughed almost a cup of blood and decided to go to the E.R. The doc told me if I had to go to the E.R. to go to Muncie rather than New Castle, as they would be more tolerant being a bigger city and a university hospital.

So my partner and I got our son ready and drove to Muncie. We went into the hospital - not too busy considering - and the familiar looks started. I am used to them. So I go to the desk, my partner and son with me and start giving them my info. There were two people at the desk doing my intake; I think one was training. When they got to the surgery question, I told them all my surgries, and she kept pressing, "Are you sure you haven't had any other surgeries?" I said that I didn't.

They completed my regestration and I saw that had put "M" as my gender. I pointed out that my ID says female. She looked annoyed and the lady next to her snickered. She told this jock type triage person to take my vitals; he glared at me for a second and turned his head and said, "Remember payback sucks." I looked at him with a slightly angry look; he said, "Not about you, something from earlier."

So I figured, fair enough. We go back to the room after waiting in the waiting room for- it felt like maybe an hour, I wasn't watching the clock at that point. While we were walking to our room, there were more stares. We were sitting in the room with the door shut, and a nurse came in and told us they will probably want a urine test and she took me to the bathroom. While I was in there, I heard suppressed laughing and someone muttered something about "good thing it's a unisex bathroom." This was through the door - not to my face.

I was still trying to tell myself that it wasn't how I saw it until I got back to the room, and my partner was looking like she wanted to cry and fight someone at the same time. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that people kept laughing while I was in there, and poking their heads in the room and asking about me. One nurse finally asked, "So is it a he or a she? Or a he-she?"

So my wife said to the nurse, "She is my wife, not an it."

To which the nurse replied with a chuckle, "Well, what do you want me to say? I can't tell. Until I know then he is an it. Now I know, and I know he is a he."

Then I came back to the room to find her almost crying. The nurse who had taken me to the bathroom came back and started asking me a bunch of questions, most I recognized as normal medical questions. Then she said, "How long have you been a transvestite?"

So I explained that I wasn't a transvestite, and for the millionth time proceeded with Transsexuality 101. I guess she had asked my partner the same thing when I was in the bathroom and was told the same thing.

She left the room and we proceeded to wait... and wait... and wait. After waiting about two hours or so she came back and gave my son a coloring book and a couple of crayons.

I read a report saying that the coloring book was used later to say "We were nice!"

Yep. That was their "proof" that no mistreatment took place.

So she came back in not long after bringing the coloring book and asked a series of bizarre questions. "Do you ever feel so angry you might lose control?" "Are you able to buy groceries every week?" "Do you ever feel overwhelmed?" "Have you ever thought about suicide?" We were confused and still are.

I was quite mad, but I kept it in check and said, "When are we going to see a doctor?" She told me that I could not be seen until I had my doc write orders. (For tests, I think she meant.) I said "Why do I need to do that? This is an emergency room."

She said, "Well, we don't know how to go about treating someone with your condition."

I responded, "I don't even know my condition. That's why I'm here!"

She replied, "No. Your other condition. The transvestite thing." I felt angry, and I was fighting my hardest to keep from crying, I was embarrassed and I grabbed my son and we left quickly so they wouldn't see me cry

And that was the whole incident, as well as my words can put it.

AC: Has the hospital been in contact with you since the whole incident happened?

EV: Once. The guy on the phone said he represented the nurses of Ball Memorial Hospital, and he said he wanted to know why I left. So I went off, and I told him why I left, and he pressed me for details. After a while, he said, "I am so sorry that out of the millions of people we have treated of every race, creed, and color, that you were the one person that experienced discrimination," in a really condescending tone.

I told him I would answer no more of his questions and my lawyers would be in touch. It took me quite a while to realize that when he said he "represented" the nurses, that he was probably a lawyer. (I cannot verify that, though. He never called again.)

AC: How has Muncie responded?

EV: I hadn't heard anything from Muncie until last night. The paper is setting up an interview.

AC: How about the LGBT community in the area? How is the reponse there?

EV: There is a rally and protest as well as a teaching event to be held in front of Ball Memorial, and several people in Muncie have RSVPed already. I knew almost nothing about the local community, but I am starting to meet them because of this. They are supportive.

It is not just the Muncie community; we have people showing there support from Indy, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, as well as nationally and globally. There is a press conference in West Hollywood on the 30th, and eleven news organizations will be there. Then the Muncie event with twelve confirmed news media events and several in attendance from the community. Code Pink, GLAAD, and several others will be at the West Hollywood press conference, along with about 200 people.

AC: That's incredible.

EV: know...sometimes i have to remind myself it is not a dream. I never thought people would rally out to support me. All this would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Dr. Arianna Davis and the GIEC.

AC: What's life like as a trans person like in rural indiana?

EV: Well, I have lived in many different rural areas in Indiana. All had different experiences. But as a whole I would say that it can be scary. After a while people seem to get used to me, and they consider me and Amanda just the weird contingent of the community. It's not even that where I am now. I have one neighbor, and corn fields on all sides of me. In some places though, it has been scary, very scary.

AC: In a perfect world, how would this issue with the hospital be resolved?

EV: In a perfect world it wouldn't have happened, but I would like to see an apology, as well as training in LGBTQI issues for all the staff. According to some message boards I have been on this week, this is not an isolated incident at Ball, and that's ridiculous. One time is one time too many. Out on the west coast I never experienced any problems.

Even in the smaller towns where my wife insists on living, people get cool after initial shock, and I get called the right pronouns by people in public, so yeah. The hospital has been an isolated incident over the last eight months or so.


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First, I'm terribly sorry this happened to you, Erin. I can't even imagine the extra stress and fear this added to an already stressful situation of being afraid of being sick.

Second, did you ever get a diagnosis and treatment? Are you alright?

I know it's very difficult when faced with a hostile and scary situation to know what to say at the time. But in my experience, the only thing to do is use the magic phrase, "I want to speak to your superviser".

You can talk 'til you're blue in the face to the cretins and the ignoramuses about facts, fairness, and decency, without the desired result because they cannot and will not comprehend what you are saying. So there's no point wasting your breath. If they had the capacity, they wouldn't have treated you that way in the first place.

Virtually every worker bee is required to turn the situation over to a superviser once the request is made. If they don't, they're in even deeper shit. Once you're dealing with someone higher up the employment food chain, hopefully this means the person has a few more neurons floating around which meritted the supervisory position. Certainly they have more responsibility, and realize it's their butt on the line; so hopefully that means they are more practical and professional.

And if they aren't, you can use the magic phrase a second, or a third, or a fourth time. The one thing about big institutions like hospitals: there is always someone higher up the chain of command who supervises them.

I believe it's the only way of getting satisfaction at the time of the incident. I know it's hard to hang in there and be persistent, especially when you're sick and feeling like crap. But even if you're able to take it so far, there is that much more documentation of the incident, and you are closer to the solution.

I'm sorry if this sounds unfeeling, but I strongly believe it's the only way to protect ourselves. If we learn to make using the magic phrase as our default position prior to these run-ins, then we don't need to be clever and brave at the time of stress. We know just to automatically say the magic words: let me speak to your supervisor!

Good luck to you.

After writing about Ms. Vaught's abominable treatment on my website (http://www.averyjenkins.com/?p=345), someone claiming to be a nurse took me to task for having the gall to actually criticize them.

Ms. Vaught, I hope you are faring better. My thoughts are with you.

Most importantly, what do you learn from this and how is this going to affect the decisions you make in the future?

Andrew Belonsky Andrew Belonsky | July 26, 2010 6:53 PM

Ug, that is so disgusting. I sure hope this experience teaches this hospital, and the Hoosier State in general, that discrimination doesn't play, even if you think someone is an "it." Again: ug...

Vivian Benge | July 26, 2010 7:26 PM

Ball Memorial doesn't have the best reputation, to be sure, which makes the 'Nurses' representative' comment about Erin being the only one who has ever had poor treatment rather amazing.

And sadly this isn't the only institution in Indiana which has tolerated or encouraged this type of behavior. As a volunteer organization, INTRAA spends amzing amounts of time and effort investigating incidents. Things are improving but there is a long way to go with the medical profession - the AMA's resolution to advance transgender health care notwithstanding.

It is ironic that INTRAA spends many hours every semester at BSU discussing transgender issues with students in many disciplines. We have always been welcomed and treated with respect, partly because many students know transgender students on the BSU campus.

Recent discussions INTRAA and IE have had with legislators and candidates will be reinforced by this tragic episode, and we congratulate Erin for standing up and being out, something many of us can't risk due to family and safety considerations.

Now all those students at BSU will have to worry about how they will be treated at Ball Memorial should they ever find themselves in need of medical intervention.

INTRAA and IE are pursuing other remedies and have been in contact with Erin, as well. We look forward to working with the many groups who are stepping up to address this stain on Muncie's reputation.

Vivian Benge
President, INTRAA

And sadly, mistreatment of transpeople by medical personnel is an ongoing problem that's getting worse, not better.

Sadly Monica this shit happens even in these mythical places no one thinks it does. I live in Surrey BC Canada, near Vancouver, often hailed as one of the most accepting tolerant places on earth.... by people who don't live here. We have Aaron Webster and Kimberly Nixon on our conscience. Google them. And I've experienced this kind of bullshit more than once here, from spending a night in jail because a Safeway Security gaurd took offense to my using the women's washroom, to a male nurse at Surrey Memorial hospital threatening to drag me out into the parking lot to shitkick me if he caught me using the women's bathroom to get a urine sample during a visit to emergency, and the doctor dismissing my complaint by saying Oh well that nurse is from Quebec, he meant no harm.

There IS no safe place where we're completely free of the risk of such bullshit, and never will be until we get up in everyone's face and say "Here we are, this is who we are, deal with it!"

You wrote:

So she came back in not long after bringing the coloring book and asked a series of bizarre questions. "Do you ever feel so angry you might lose control?" "Are you able to buy groceries every week?" "Do you ever feel overwhelmed?" "Have you ever thought about suicide?" We were confused and still are.

It was a psychiatric evaluation. They were searching for signs of depression and suicide ideation or anything that could be used to demonstrate that she was a danger to herself or someone else, because then they can legally commit her for psych treatment without her or her partner's consent.

I don't know the hospital's or region's track record, but with a couple trouble hospitals in Alberta, there's a pattern of disregarding the diagnosis of GID, diagnosing with either Borderline Personality or Dissociative Identity Disorder, whichever can be best twisted to fit (and it doesn't help that there seems to be a higher than typical incidence of BPD or BPD-appearing behaviour in our community). In the most extreme cases, we've even seen ECT used as a form of treatment, as recently as 3 years ago.

One of these two hospitals has since been given training and their track record seems to have done a complete about-face, but we're still watching.

What you need to do if you ever encounter this pattern is to alert as many people as possible that so-and-so has been checked in to psych, and make sure that they all take time to go visit, don't be confrontational with the nurses and doctors if you can help it but educate the staff as much as you can, and be there like a dirty shirt.

The more the clinic realizes that their treatment is contrary to GID standards of care and that there are people who will hold them accountable, the sooner they will release the person. So far, it's been working.

Susanna I Astarte | July 26, 2010 9:35 PM

Hello=-)
Just reading your horror story. So sorry.
Hard to believe people could ever treat you so badly. I am a caretaker- not allowed to give meds and pretty much the bottom rung of the medical field- but I am very compassionate and find the rude and dehumanizing comments intolerable and unbelievable! You went there seeking medical help and were treated terribly. At least an apology is in order and yes training should be required.
You have the support of myself and many others!
Hang in there!

PFLAG has pretty good publications to educate healthcare providers.

If you meet a clueless health professional and don't have time for a seminar, this may help them out with a few basics.

http://www.straightforequality.org/healthcare

OK, I'm confused. I confess I am a ditz. What does this mean..."So my partner and I got our son ready and drove to Muncie."? Are you saying that you are married and have produced a son? I'm not criticizing but just trying to understand.

And then Erin goes on to say that the intake procedure logs Erin as a man in spite of ID that says otherwise. There is a reference to "the looks". Does that mean that Erin is typically recognized as a man? And then there are the questions about any additional surgeries. Am I to understand that the negative answer means that Erin has male genitalia?

Please clarify some of this for me because anyone who goes to an emergency room after coughing up copious amounts of blood should be seen for their medical condition regardless of any other "factors" but obviously that was not done in this case.

Erin Vaught | July 27, 2010 12:16 AM

Deena...My partner and I have been together for over 5 years, before transition. We did conceive a son. I do not pass well, but I live as my true gender (i.e. female) 24/7. I have not had Facial fem surgery as of yet, so they knew my transitional status, as it is obvious. It is also obvious what my gender is as noted by my appearance and my gender marker on my identification. I do not think that genitalia or lack of should play any role. It is not pertinent what I have or don't have between my legs. It is required to live full time as your transitional gender for 1 year prior to having surgery, I hope that this clears up some of your questions.

You wrote:

I do not think that genitalia or lack of should play any role.

No, and neither should "passing." This was a medical emergency and any human being has a right and an expectation of being treated as a human being. Value judgments based on things like passing, genital configuration and whether one was able to parent might have been part of why the discrimination happened, but health practitioners have an obligation to first do no harm, and to put patient health above all else. So the bottom line is that passing, etc, are irrelevant and distractions from the issue.

"Am I to understand that the negative answer means that Erin has male genitalia?"

That is NONE of your fucking business! How dare you ask a total stranger - publicly - about her genitalia?

Not only is it none of your goddamned business, it is totally irrelevant! No one deserves to be treated the way Erin was, even if she has a fucking salmon between her legs!

This is one of the reasons some people choose not to be out or come forward to fight injustices like this, because of stupid, insensitive questions... from "friends"!

Geeze.

FurryCatHerder | July 27, 2010 3:45 AM

OH PLEASE.

This isn't a thread about what color shoes she wears with a Royal Stuart tartan plaid vest, it's a thread in which discussions of surgical status and all that goes into how various institutions treat and categorize people are on-topic.

In many instances a bit of 'Trans 101' education on the spot works out pretty well. And in many instances, refraining from 'No, I really am (the sex I wasn't born)' helps prevent the perception by medical professionals that the person is =mentally= ill.

Would anything have helped in this case? Probably not.

"This isn't a thread about what color shoes she wears with a Royal Stuart tartan plaid vest,... "

WHAT???

FurryCatHerder | July 27, 2010 4:49 AM

Okay. I'll explain it slower.

Erin was not discussing clothing or fashion or anything where genitals are irrelevant.

Erin was discussing problems which occurred in a hospital where physiology (including genitals) is very relevant.

Knowing the precise physiology of a person often =is= important. I'm not a doctor, so I reserve the right to be wrong on this point, but as I read the interview, a DVT brought on by estrogen usage might be one explanation. That estrogen dosage is higher pre-operative than post-operative makes genitals even more relevant.

Genitals don't matter, except when they do. And this is one of the instances where, as I explained above, they very likely do.

Just to recap -- not a medical situation? Genitals don't matter. A medical situation? Genitals do matter because of their relationship to physiology and ongoing medical treatments and their potential complications.

"Okay. I'll explain it slower."

Oh, thank you so much for helping me with my reading comprehension. 'Cause it's always been hard for me to know such big words.

"Erin was not discussing clothing or fashion or anything where genitals are irrelevant."

Genitals have absolutely nothing to do with breathing or any other aspect of your repiratory system.

"Erin was discussing problems which occurred in a hospital where physiology (including genitals) is very relevant."

Bullshit. And genitals have nothing to do with gender.

"Knowing the precise physiology of a person often =is= important. I'm not a doctor, so I reserve the right to be wrong on this point,... "

Well, good for you.

" ...but as I read the interview, a DVT brought on by estrogen usage might be one explanation."

One does not need male genitalia to take estrogen.

"That estrogen dosage is higher pre-operative than post-operative makes genitals even more relevant."

First, when you are seeing a doctor or are in an ER, you are asked what medications you are taking, and at what dose. Not what sort of genitals you have. Having estrogen on the meds list, regardless of dosage, would alert them to investigate the possibility of a blood clot, if the symptoms suggested one. Chances are they'd want to do a chest x-ray either way.

Second, the commenters on this blog aren't her doctors and aren't treating her; and have no need of the information about Erin's genitals that was asked here. Period.

"Genitals don't matter, except when they do."

Genitals matter if you are having sex, urinating, giving birth, or if you have physical problems with them. Not when you're coughing.

"And this is one of the instances where, as I explained above, they very likely do."

You have failed to even address the issue of why someone on this blog would need to know what sort of genitals Erin has.

"Just to recap -- not a medical situation? Genitals don't matter. A medical situation? Genitals do matter because of their relationship to physiology and ongoing medical treatments and their potential complications."

Wrong. Unless the medical problem is uro-genital, fertility, a sexually transmitted infection, or a testicular growth of some sort, your genitals don't effect treating other medical problems.

If you break your arm, should you be asked to drop trou? Are they going to set it differently if you're packing heat between your legs? If you have a sinus infection, should someone grope you? Do only people with God-made vaginas get antibiotics for it?

Get a clue.

FurryCatHerder | July 27, 2010 11:21 AM

It's interesting that you mention breaking an arm and the potential need to "drop trou" -- which I assume means something as simple as "What sex are you? No, I mean, what sex ARE you?" without the lecture on how you have some fantasy that the body isn't really-real.

You see, I have the privilege of having the nasty that is just before osteoporosis. I have this for two reasons -- 1). history of anorexia, 2). history of not taking 'mones when I should have.

There is a strong relationship between "genitals", though "gonads" might be a better word, and bone density. That and the self-inflicted starvation thing. Put those two together, and when I've had injuries where fractures were a possibility, I gave my scientifically valid, physical reality based, common medical terminology history. My health is more important than some trans-gibberish lingo.

We live in a world other than the "Golly gee, I wanna pretend words mean what I want them to mean and the hell with everyone else!" that many trans-people wish we lived in.

If I want my body to have a future, I have to tell a doctor my body's past.

As for the "women take estrogen, too" political-correctness, women on estrogen replacement and The Pill typically consume far less estrogen, with far fewer risks of medical complications, than pre-op / non-op M2F types who are using estrogen for femininization and testosterone suppression. My dose back in the day was four times the "post-menopause regiment" dose. I think it was 20 times the level of The Pill, in typical configurations, but I forget -- comes from being 13 years post-SRS.

"this isn't a thread about what color shoes she wears with a Royal Stuart tartan plaid vest"

And that is absolutely why you do not ask those questions of her!!! You wouldn't ask those questions to a random stranger on the street, would you?

And it's STILL none of anyone's fucking business what's between her legs, unless it is immediately medically relevant (which, on this board, it's not)!

I'm trannsexual too. You want to ask ME what's between my legs? Go ahead, I fucking dare you.

Deena wrote:
"Please clarify some of this for me because anyone who goes to an emergency room after coughing up copious amounts of blood should be seen for their medical condition regardless of any other "factors" but obviously that was not done in this case."

I couldn't agree more, Deena. Erin was coughing up blood and that was what the emergency room personnel should have been concerned about.

Shouldn't it make sense that we should be concerned about the part where Erin received awful treatment and no medical care?

It seems to me that you are doing the same things the nurses did, by focusing on irrelevant private details of Erin's life, and not - as you yourself suggest - why she was coughing up blood and why the emergency room staff did not address that issue.

"It seems to me that you are doing the same things the nurses did, by focusing on irrelevant private details of Erin's life... "

YES!

FurryCatHerder | July 27, 2010 11:44 AM

A full, physically accurate, scientifically valid medical and physical history is not "private details" when the subject is the Human Body.

More to the point, historically the differential diagnosis for "transsexual" and "deluded" was based on knowing the difference between the physical reality between ones legs and the thoughts going on in ones head.

My penis was a penis, not "a really big clit". My testicles were testicles, not "deformed ovaries". Accurate information means doctors don't have to guess which medication condition caused me to have "a really big clit" and "deformed ovaries".

I've watched interviews where people gave physically-accurate, reality-based information, and ones where they used trans weasel-words, jargon, and gender-lingo. One approach works, the other doesn't. With one approach, the person tends to come across as having a firm grasp on reality, and in the other, the person tends to come across as evasive and deceptive.

And I resent, I f@cking resent with a bloody f@cking passion, that some group of people thinks all the cutiesy trans-lingo-weaseling they do doesn't hurt others. And I will tell you that on those occasions when I must come out about my medical past for some reason, I fairly often hear about those people who use trans-weasel-lingo, and it isn't in positive terms.

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FurryCatHerder | July 27, 2010 4:49 PM

Les,

First, I'm sorry you had a horrible experience with a medical provider.

My behavior is anything =but= "self-hating" or "oppression-enabling". But thanks for engaging in the standard trans-centric-approach to shutting down any discourse on the subject of our interactions with nons.

For fifteen years I've interacted with all manner of folks -- other trans people, nons, employers, medical providers, lovers, lawyers and judges. In my FIFTEEN years of experience, I've learned that using generally accepted language for surgeries, body morphologies, etc. work the best. I've learned that expressing myself in "normalized" terms -- and I'll give an example in a moment -- works far better than using trans-specific or trans-centric language. For example, "medical condition" works better than "birth defect" -- after all, I sired a child perfectly well. Saying I had a "birth defect" tends to create the perception that I'm being less than honest. I was asked by my former employer's HR department how I'd be dressing (this was, after all, the mid 1990's, before "trans" became so popular ...) and I framed it in terms of how the woman asking the question was dressed.

What I have accomplished with my approach? For starters, the composure and dignity I demonstrated led to a Fortune 100 company changing their policies as they relate to handling gender transitions. With no excuses to justify any mis-treatment, senior executives were able to see that the problem wasn't me, the problem was the bigots who were treating me badly.

People who are secure and self-confident in their identity -- and I credit my therapist for helping me develop that self-confidence -- don't have to use trans-weasel-words, jargon and special lingo. I hope that some day you're able to find the peace you need to stop dodging the issues surrounding your body.

I haven't seen any examples here of so-called trans lingo or weasel words in this discussion. Someone asked a total stranger in essence, do you have a penis. I objected to the question as irrelevant and crass. That's it.

You tried to prove it was a necessary and relevant question, which I disproved. I also pointed out that your claims weren't applicable here since none of us are treating Erin.

So other than inventing another grievance, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Actually Rory I asked for clarification on a number of points in a posting about Erin having problems at a hospital emergency room. You objected. From one perspective I can accept your heightened sense of propriety yet from mine it was an innocent request based on wanting to understand the original posting which was medical in nature. I think Erin understands I meant no offense and I certainly didn't cop an attitude demanding to know. She made the assertion freely and originally in stating that she had no other surgeries. I simply did not want to misunderstand what she was saying.

"She made the assertion freely and originally in stating that she had no other surgeries. I simply did not want to misunderstand what she was saying."

I can't imagine it being more straight forward. No surgery is no surgery. But more to the point, why did you want to know? Was it going to change your opinion about what happened to Erin?

Rory did it ever occur to you that some people who have had no surgeries do not have typical male genitalia? Yes there is a difference in discussions when information is clear versus when facts must be presumed or inferred. I learned long ago that asking for clarification helps avoid mistakes.

I am getting the distinct impression that you are in attack mode. Perhaps I should pause and ask you for clarification on that point.

FurryCatHerder | July 27, 2010 11:47 PM

Rory,

I've learned that it is more productive to take allies at face value until they prove otherwise.

I've been on educational panels with people who had the ability to fire me and they asked some pretty damned offensive questions -- outside the context of being in what was supposed to be an educational session.

What do you think their reaction would have been if I'd said "THAT'S OFFENSIVE!"?

Do you know how many allies we lose because too many trans-people have skin thin enough that it isn't even skin anymore? If your actions aren't consistent with your desired results, perhaps it's time to try a different set of actions? Just a thought.

Who exactly are the allies in this story, FCH? The nurses in the ER? The intake person at reception?

Like most things, there's a time and a place for some questions and not others. Having just read an article about how a trans woman was humiliated and ridiculed for not being a 'real' woman is not the ocassion to publicly ask her if she has a penis! Especially since it was pointed out in several instances how genitals are irrelevant to gender.

I don't think it's too much to expect a member of our community to know enough not to ask a crass question umder these circumstances.

If you are in an outreach situation where you're there to educate the public who are there because they don't understand these issues, that's a different circumstance. If you have a previous relationship with someone, perhaps from a history of working together as members of the same communityand therefore know they're a person of good will, again, that is different.

In either of those scenarios, I think a perfectly reasonable response to someone asking what sort of genitals you have is to say, 'I understand your curiosity, but frankly, it doesn't make a difference; so I prefer not to answer.' Obviously, anyone is perfectly free to talk about his or her genitals if they so desire. But no one should ever be obliged to.

Once again, this situation isn't either of those.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 9:15 AM

Rory,

I'm referring to Deena. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Is there a reason you want to alienate others?

i'm so sorry this happened to you. fuck them and good for you for fighting back! hugs from a trans girl in san diego, california!

Erin Vaught | July 27, 2010 12:19 AM

I want to thank everyone for your comments and concerns. Rest assured that I am looking into possible solutions to this situation, and I am also trying to find options to treat my health. Thank you all very much. *hugs*

Erin I meant no offense with my questions. I was simply seeking to understand the situation. Thank you for clarifying some of it without jumping on me for asking intimate questions of a stranger. I'm a ditz and often simply ask what comes to mind without being concerned about how it might come across to the diverse sensitivities of a broad spectrum of readers.

I do hope you get excellent care for the underlying medical problems. I would assume everyone feels that way.

Your case is another example of how prejudices can cause serious harm. Though regrettable society seems to have had that problem throughout all ages and I don't expect to wake up one day in a world where 7 billion people have morphed into internalized acceptance and love of all others.

I will say that from my perspective if I end up in an emergency medical situation I want the doctors and nurses to know all about anything my body has been through and anything that might be pertinent to rectifying the problem. I would answer any question courteously and factually and let them use their knowledge to assess its relevance. I dislike those lengthy questionnaires that include such things as have you ever had chicken pox or measles but each tidbit of information helps a physician gain a rudimentary picture of my health.

"Erin I meant no offense with my questions."

Deena, just because you didn't mean to be offensive doesn't immunize you from being offensive. The result is the same regardless of intent.

I take you at your word that it wasn't your purpose to be hurtful; therefore an apology would go along way to ameliorate the situation.

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to hurt people. And, Erin, I hope that you can find someplace that treats you like a human being.

RoboRobbie | July 27, 2010 2:23 PM

First and foremost, I just wanted to say sorry that this terrible situation happened to you. Secondly as Rory has stated earlier, did you ever get diagnosis and treated? Are you alright?

It's just saddens me to hear something like this has happened to you. I just recently graduated from nursing school and prior to graduation; all of us brand new nurses stood proudly and recited the Queen of Nursing's pledge:

"I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to work closely with the health team, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care."

Those nurses and every medical health personnel in that hospital ought to be a shame of themselves for what they did and they will pay for it. That is no way to treat anyone! I wish I could have been your nurse and been there to advocate for you and slap everyone in their mouth for treating you like they did. Ugh, this makes me so mad!

And foreals, "LET ME SPEAK TO YOUR SUPERVISOR!!!"

Erin Vaught | July 27, 2010 3:35 PM

Thank you for your support and concern. I have not been diagnosed, nor treated yet. I have to wait until I have the gas to drive to Indianapolis, which I should have on the 1st of Aug. Thank you to every one for your support and encouragement.

Congratulations on your graduation, Robbie. We need more people like you in that profession, who focus on humanity and taking their mission to heart.

Erin Vaught | July 27, 2010 2:50 PM

I just want to Clarify, That the issue wasn't what I have between my legs. They did not ask about it, and if I had ever got the opportunity to see a doctor, I would have been completely forthright about my physical anatomy. I do not know what "trans weasel lingo" is nor do I know anyone who uses the terms I have seen on this thread. I do know that we as trans people make it a point to let people know that Gender is not what is between your legs. That is not "trans weasel lingo", it is a fact.. If I had been seen by a doctor, I would have volunteered the information. I was not. I was merely ridiculed by nurses who never asked i a medical way what is happening between my legs, or with my gender, rather, they just started in will the hate talk and name calling. I guess what I am trying to say with this comment is that there is a lot of divisiveness in our community (LGBTQI) when what we need is solidarity. We should not be bickering amongst each other, we should be using that energy to dispel myth, fight hate and intolerance, and spread awareness and love. We need to be an example to the rest of the world. If we fight amongst each other over trivialities, than how can we hope potential supporters to take us seriously?

FurryCatHerder | July 27, 2010 7:26 PM

<gently>
Erin,

Many times asserting you are "female" when it is obvious that you are not a natal female creates the impression that you are being deceptive.

Other terms like "birth defect" may feel correct to you (did to me!), but don't coincide with what non-gender-experienced doctors view as a "birth defect".

In general, the simpler and more basic the explanation the better things tend to go -- if there is a chance of them going well. Using jargon like "gender expression" or even "gender identity" can also lead to the perception that you're being less than open.

I've tried "Trans 101" education in the past and found it less than successful. What I ask instead is that if you shaved men and women's heads and dressed them in burlap bags, could you figure out who's who? That usually gets rid of the "but you look like a man!" complaints -- if a woman with a shaved head in a burlap bag is still perceived to be a woman, all the rest just doesn't matter.

Best of luck -- I've been in bad and dangerous situations before and don't envy you.
</gently>

Erin Vaught | July 27, 2010 11:10 PM

I never used the term "birth defect" and like I said, if I would have actually seen a doctor, I would have been as forthright as I could be. What was I supposed to do, (IYO) was I supposed to look at that glaring M and tell myself, oh it's cool because thats what I am "natally"? That's ridiculous. There is no deception, My license says female, there is no "transgender" option...so what you are saying again, (from what I am hearing) is that if i do not want people think I am trying to deceive them, then I am supposed to be ok with having M on my hospital records,and furthermore avoid terms like gender identity, and when someone says "hey, is it a he or a she" I am supposed to calmly say "because I do not want to give you the impression that I am deceiving you good sir, I am a man who takes estro and spiro, got my gender marker changed, wear womens clothes and make up all with the intention of having sex change surgery to make me a man with a pseudo vagina" is that about what you are telling me here? If they feel deceived, that is THEIR hangup, I am not a man pretending to be a woman. Read the latest research...genitals a woman do not make. As for the health care workers who do not know about such things, that still does not excuse their behavoir. However suing their butts will def. ensure they get some kind of education about it. Plain and simple, I was in there for my lungs. DVT does not affect the lungs in that manner, (well it can, but the chances of DVT in the lungs are 1 in millions)...and I am not sure if you are aware, but great strides have been made since the 70's & 80's on HRT. Doctors no longer give out huge crazy amounts to those pre op. I am on injectible, and On about the same dose that my post hysterec. step mother is on, (and have gotten fab results from it). Times have changed. Knowledge on Gender identity have changed. The science on the transsexual brain vs. cis brain is clear. If there are still people in this world that want to discriminate against me or others because we are being true to ourselves, then I will stand up and fight, until the bigots change with the times. What I am not understanding is how a trans person can go so far as to make it sound like I (or ANY other trans person) is being less than forthcoming because we do not want to be called IT, do not want to be refused treatment (there was no need in an emergency room to deny my treatment based on trans issues, no matter what excuse anyone says. it's an EMERGENCY room), and wish our gender status to reflect what every other identifying document says. just out of curiosity, since you are that many years post op, are you forthcoming with the intake person at the front desk as they enter that big ol' F as your gender? do you say, "I don't want to deceive, but I am a man by birth"...because that is where my discrimination started to happen, right in the lobby, RIGHT AT INTAKE. I do not want acceptance, I WANT MY RIGHTS!

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 1:27 AM

Erin,

If the fact that I was born male is at all relevant to why I'm at the hospital, the staff is made very plainly aware of that fact.

How would I have handled the situation, were I in your shoes?

"I'm a transsexual women in the middle of changing sex. Is the 'M' on my records for medical reasons or identification?"

If they say "medical", leave it be, but ask that they attach a post-it or other note indicating that you are MISS Erin, not MISTER Erin. If they say "identification", explain that they need to change it to match your identification, then suggest that they add a note on the form indicating that you are still physically male.

Be polite. Apologize a lot. Apologize that they don't encounter more transsexuals, so you understand that they are uneducated / inexperienced.

You were in a miserable situation. Being forceful or argumentative doesn't work as a strategy. In a force-on-force conflict, the bigger or more powerful person almost always wins. Given that, you need a different strategy.

For example -- "She replied, 'No. Your other condition. The transvestite thing.'" -- you respond "I'm being treated by Dr. So-And-So for that." Okay, so you're not a transvestite, but they also no longer need to treat you for something you aren't anyway. You've taken away one of their excuses for not treating you.

"Be polite. Apologize a lot."

Are you friggin kidding me?? Or are you just naturally into being abused? Perhaps you feel like you don't need to be treated with respect. If so, that's on you. But please don't ask other vulnerable people to be subservient and bow low to the Masters.

Trust me, doing so will not get you the desired result. You will still be treated like an "it". You will still be looked upon with suspicion. But even worse, having gotten away with treating you that way, they will be emboldened to treat the next trans person the same way who may not be into being abused like you. And that too, will be on you.

Minorities are never given rights and respect unless they EXPECT it, and ask for it. Your advice is bad and disrespectful of trans people. I don't care how many surgeries you've had. If you don't understand the fundamental humanity of our comunity, they don't mean anything.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 8:50 AM

Rory,

You should stop using the trans-world "How to shout down disagreements" playbook. It does get old.

No, of course I'm not into being abused. I'm into getting results, and if defusing a tense situation is what is needed, then I will defuse a tense situation. Losing your cool, being defensive, insisting on something that is counterfactual -- these things do NOT help resolve a bad situation. They cause the opponent to become more entrenched.

If your goal is achieving results, those approaches are maladaptive, self-destructive, self-defeating, and otherwise "wrong".

Anthony Barreto-Neto | July 28, 2010 12:14 PM

How did the treatment of an individual,  err, clarification human being, digress to the level of the vitriolic comments I have read here? One wants to know Erin's genitals, another believes she should be subservient, to apologize for her treatment as a "joke or less than 'we', being the "norm",  type attitude with the he-she comment", then Trans-101 from maybe the same person who doesn't want to use jargon, 'trans'-lingo? Perhaps the word you might have thought of is our vernacular (being or characteristic of or appropriate to everyday language; "common parlance"; "a vernacular term"; "vernacular speakers"; for the one who likes definitions). I think it is, 
in fact I know that in triage the "professionals" (which I must apply loosely here due to their inappropriate behavior), are trained to be helpful, caring in the ER. And I don't think anyone who has the "education" to be an RN, if indeed they were, (I am not saying LPN'S, AIDS are any less responsible for their actions),  doesn't also possess the common sense, unless bigoted in the first place, (which I have
found in many murder\hate crime investigations), is usually across the board, to put their biases aside and to treat all patients who come into the ER with dignity, care and concern! As evidenced when asking Erin's partner in front of their child, when they had no questions about gender, sex for those who figure they have a right to be ignorant about gender, if Erin was a he/she or it and even after being told "she" continued the insult referring to Erin as it. This type behavior may be "appropriate if still ignorant in a bar frequented by those who fear anyone different than themselves but have no place in an ER. Nor would it be excused by their professional affiliations, to wit; RNA, AMA (not that I read that any physician had yet been in attendance), and other Org.
At this point, triage, the information  NEEDED is; symptoms, medical history in brief as it pertains to common complaint, vitals, (not as from the Office of Vital Statistics), if gender marker is on the ID, regardless of what the intake believed, confused or not, should have been noted, & i believe Erin's answer of surgeries was straight forward and not in the 'nurses' purview to belabor, then placed into "room" to await usually an intern &/or resident to begin diagnostics. Cis-gendered people, shall we call it what it is "heterosexuals" (mind/body congruity at birth), since another takes offense at using the 'trans' word then proceeds to use yet another label, do not have the privilege in medical fields, surely in any, to be ignorant of human kindness which is IMHO what this treatment of Erin is about, regardless of terms or labels. 
"If your goal is achieving results, those approaches are maladaptive, self-destructive, self-defeating, and otherwise "wrong". You should stop using the 'trans' word."
The above quote taken from the same person albeit in 2 separate comments delineates and defeats the "caring" attitude put forth by their comment by stating that Erin was wrong. It never ceases to amaze me how anyone can tell another person they were wrong in ANY given situation where they are not in attendance. Couldn't possibly know what may have been intended but not said, said but isn't verbatim, attitudes, etc. No more than a computer can have a sense of humor not specifically made by it's writer and then can still be misread. In any case it is not up to anyone other than Erin and her family to know the rightness &/or wrongness of any action. 
Finally, the behaviors as reported of the medical staff begs an intensive look at hospital policy at that institution, the people who were involved by review, and most certainly an attorney of Erin's choice. I know from experience that in the first year of medical school, which of course doesn't apply to nurses et al, but they do have similar trainings, one is given "desensitization" training. Not to be desensitized by the human condition but to look beyond your own bias, beliefs, myths, and to be objective with ever patient you 'see'. The discussion of genitals, hormones, HRT, levels......is irrelevant at this point in the discussion. From what I read Erin had not even been able to 'see' a physician, (I'm not saying they would have treated her better, one can only hope), which would have the purview to ask more pertinent questions to aid in diagnosis. Coughing up blood in any case is serious enough that the first and primary concern that triage had was to get Erin to 'see' a physician! Not to debate, belittle or in any way cause undue, additional stress to the patient. I for one am appalled by her treatment. I do not believe that it has anything to do with "cis-gender" privilege, gender knowledge or not, hormone levels or even presence but the same thing that 'we' experience all too often in our lives, Erin you hit it on the nose...it had to do with hatred. Hatred of others that aren't like "them", hatred from small minded people who may have some inferior feelings and need to make others feel less than them to soothe that pain in themselves in their misguided hierarchy, and yes ignorance and an inability to empathize. Characteristics that do not belong certainly in an ER, nor anywhere where any human being may exercise any control over another's well-being. As nice as wonderful as it would be to believe that this would be not the example but the template on which 'we' treat others is my sad commentary!
NB: I also transitioned in the mid-90's, it was no more, no less, different in actuality, then the backslide we see our movement tumbling. But that's another discussion!

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 5:07 PM

Tony,

I'm a pragmatist. I've had doctors =run= out of a room after they realized my fine female body was in part the result of Shrang's handiwork. My goal was being cared for. If I'd been mistreated, I know how to deal with that =later=. But in the moment, I had a medical need and it needed to be met. In that specific instance, I'd been turned down for care by several other health care providers, and I just plain wanted a problem fixed.

That's the experience I bring to the table.

I also bring experience from the same city that you shook up 30+ years ago (we know / knew many of the same people, and spent time in the same bars), when I was told that if confronted by the police or military (it was under military occupation at the time ...) that I was to be polite and submissive and subservient and not give either the police or the military any excuses. That there were lawyers who would solve whatever problems we were in, so long as we didn't create new ones. You're a cop, you know that conflict escalation is not always the smartest idea.

I have a lot of respect for your life's work, and what you've accomplished over the last 40 years. I know people who definitely benefited from what you did way back in the day, as well as since then.

But Erin isn't you or I. Expecting someone who can't afford gas money to take on a hospital when she needs to be finding out what the f@ck is wrong with her body is classist. Our response to her -- to her, not telling me I'm an evil meanie -- should have been "What do you need now?", and that includes getting her medical treatment =now=. If she hasn't been treated for what could well be life-threatening already, someone a lot closer to her needs to be on their way to pick her up and take her to a competent medical professional. Not waiting for some protest when they can grandstand for the press, but right now, Erin in a car, to a doctor, finding out why she's coughing up blood. I'll answer to that person for being a big meanie, but the rest of the people here who aren't trying to get Erin medical treatment RIGHT NOW can kindly get f@cked.

My response to this post somehow appears all the way at the bottom, instead of stacking here. So that's where to look for it.

Rory, I have your back in all this. FCH can go on about how she's such a TG supporter, but the way I see her act in this thread is abominable and I wouldn't call her an ally.

You, I would.

Allies don't tell other people that it's ok to ask about the status of strangers' genitals.

Allies don't tell TG folks that they should genuflect to the privileged masses because some people don't get it.

Allies don't talk condescendingly to those that are talking about their oppression, "gently" tags be damned.

Also, the ridiculous amount of TONE ARGUMENTS that are going on is amazing. Even if you are argumentative, that's because YOU'RE PISSED AND PEOPLE DON'T HAVE A RIGHT TO DISCOUNT you.,/i>

Thank you, Rory.

And Erin, please know that I am thinking of you and hope you are well.

Erin_Equality | July 28, 2010 5:55 AM

Well, again, The fact that I was born male bodied had no bearing whatsoever why I was there. If it did, I would have made sure THE DOCTORS and THE NURSE who were overseeing my care were made aware. Also, there is no good reason for them to list me as male on my chart. Since you are fond of the post it notes, well, they could use one (if necessary) to state i was male bodied previously. I am not sure if you are aware, but when someone who is male bodied, takes the hormone regimen we do, and are equipment no longer works, we have no more testosterone, (other than what a cis woman would have) and the same amount of estro as a cis woman, breast hips etc. How can you say that is male bodied? It's not exactly female bodied either, it is an in between limbo. You made a comment awhile back that you transitioned in the mid 90's "before trans became so popular" Why do you think it is popular? is it because of the number of people taking that brave step to living their life in the way they feel is right? Well, it is not a bunch of people transitioning as a popular fad, the facts and findings of the scientific community regarding trans people have opened peoples eyes enough to where more people are coming forward and not thinking THEY have the problem. You suggested i just take the transvestite insult, but that is unhealthy in oh so many ways. (as a student of psychology, I can so back this up)...now, if you went up to an African American, and referred to her as coloured...would you expect her to be gracious? No reasonable person would, because it is a hateful, hurtful statement. However, back in the day it was acceptible...why? Because they were afraid to speak up for themselves. Well, I will not sit by and allow myself to be called transvestite after informing them of the difference. You were not there, it was not done because they didn't know, the things they said were done out of HATE..if not then why, after my partner told them I was she would they laugh, call me he, and it, and he she? I guess I should have done what you would have. Apologize for being different, apologize for offending their sensibilities with my presence, apologize for my existance. I will not do that. Do you realize how far we have come? To do what you are suggesting will only set us back. It was readily apparent from the moment i was brought back to the room, this was NOT a question of not understanding, this was a question of HATRED. Did the people who killed Angie Zapata and Gwen Araujo do so because they did not understand? Should those ladies have apologised prior to their lives being ended? I did not present myself as hostile to the staff. Like i has said, I did my best to keep from crying. That being said, old me would have rounded up my friends in Bash Back! and we would have made an example out of them. I have matured and aged...I know that is not the right way to bring attention to our fight for equal rights. Litigating the hell out of them in court, however, is. I have been told LEA will be contacting me because what the hospital has done falls under the new state hate crime laws, as well as federal. Knowing this, would you still say i should have dismissed what they were saying, and apologised to THEM for THEIR hatred and bigotry? Maybe it is just that you transitioned awhile ago, but times are different. We do not have to sit back and take that talk...for a fellow transperson to suggest I apologize, dismiss their hate talk, what kind of example would I be giving my son, who was watching the whole situation? That you have to stand up for yourself, but mommy don't because it's my fault people are saying hurtful things? I do have to thank you. Your posts have given me the last push I need to completely REJECT Hetero normativity.

Speaking as a person who transitioned in the 90's, FCH is full of shit, Erin. We've got your back.

You should also contact NCLR and Lambda Legal for help. If you aren't familiar with the former, their legal director is a trans man, and they've had fantastic success.

Erin_Equality | July 28, 2010 5:30 PM

Thank you Rory,I appreciate your support more than you know. One love

In solidarity,
Erin

It's the very least I can do, Erin, after what you've been through. I'm just sorry that some people in this discussion are attempting to re-victimize you.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 8:00 PM

Dishonest much?

I mean, the answer to that rhetorical question is "Yes, a lot as a matter of fact", but helping someone navigate a difficult situation is not re-victimizing them.

The only people re-victimizing Erin are the ones who are close enough to organize protests, but not caring enough about Erin as a human being to get her ass to a doctor.

So ... get her ass to a doctor already. I live in Texas. Surely there are trans people in other states closer to Indiana than me.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 9:10 AM

Erin,

If I was coughing up blood, and I had to admit that I was a pink monkey in order to be treated, I'd admit that I was a pink monkey. Then I'd ask where the doctor was and could he treat me. And if he insisted that he doesn't treat pink monkies, I'd ask where the vet was.

When I'd been treated for coughing up blood, I'd contact whomever I could and I'd sue the living f*ck out of them.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." -- Ecclesiastes 3:1,8

Rory's tactic simply doesn't work in the moment. Get your needs met, then return with the lawyers, protesters, and all that fun stuff. But in the moment, de-escalating the conflict is the better approach.

Erin_Equality | July 28, 2010 3:14 PM

You had said "Rory's tactic simply doesn't work in the moment. Get your needs met, then return with the lawyers, protesters, and all that fun stuff. But in the moment, de-escalating the conflict is the better approach.:

What are you not understanding here? I GAVE THEM NO CONFLICT, There was nothing to de-escalate.I was still refused medical treatment without ANY hostility on *my* part. You also said in another post we should say "Thank you" to you because of how you handles the big bosses at the Fortune 500 company where you work, thus making them alter their policies. Good for you, thank you I will not. How does that affect us? Bottom linwe is, it's all about the master/slave mindset, and you seem hell bent on satisfying your masters, even at the expense of your own dignity and pride.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 7:24 PM

Erin,

I worked there for 13 years after coming out. My transition, my education of my co-workers and superiors, my involvement with LGBT task forces, etc. resulted in changing the working conditions for over a quarter of a million employees. I was given promotions, awards, great responsibilities, allowed to spend millions of dollars, and have an all-around great time until I reached my "Best By" date, and was invited to leave, along with thousands of nons, thanks to the recent economic unpleasantness.

How is that some kind of master/slave mindset?

I'm talking pragmatism here. If you'd gone in with a splinter in your finger, by all means -- fight like crazy, raise a stink, call the media, yell, scream and shout. Coughing up blood? Do whatever it takes to get treatment, THEN fight like crazy, raise a stink, call the media, yell, scream and shout, sue them into oblivion.

As for the "In solidarity", anyone you're in "solidarity" with take you to the hospital yet? No? Do you need gas money? I have a g-mail account -- address is obvious from the name. I'm not "in solidarity" with ineffective solutions to problems, but I am "in solidarity" with results. I'm a results-oriented kinda gal.

Erin_Equality | July 28, 2010 9:08 PM

Ok, I thought I had mentioned this, if not, my bad. I have mentioned this so many times, I was certain this was one of them. I have people from INTRAA helping me with gas, on friday i am going to a hospital in Indianapolis. Now that the treatment end of this issue is taken care of, and the fact that I was NOT getting beligerent nor confrontational in the E.R....why would I not fight for my RIGHT to be recognized for who I am and fight for the RIGHT to not be discriminated against when I require medical attention? I am not understanding what is so difficult for you when it comes to grasping the situation. Would you be so quick to tell a racial minority in the same position to go about it the way you have been telling me? To apologize? to basically get a defeatist attitude just to receive the services that i am entitled to have as a HUMAN BEING? Even convicted killers get to see a doctor in an emergency. I would have to agree with Rory, it seems you invalidate your own identity by the things you have been saying. I just don't get it. However, you are still a sister, and I love you. One love

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 10:13 PM

Erin,

I'm glad to hear that you've got some folks in meatspace who are getting you some medical care.

There's nothing at all hard for me to understand -- it's just tactics. You do what you do to get what you need getting done. "Playing nice" doesn't mean you give up or give in. "Playing nice" is also an effective strategy for separating bigots from the uninformed or uneducated. You do what you have to do to get what you need to get, then you bring lawyers.

The other thing is, don't let people rent space inside your head. Most of those kinds of people are sadistic bastards who want to get a rise out of you. Getting defensive is playing into their sadistic little game.

"Rory's tactic simply doesn't work in the moment. Get your needs met, then return with the lawyers, protesters, and all that fun stuff. But in the moment, de-escalating the conflict is the better approach."

The only tactic I advocated was that instead of wasting your breath on some neanderthal bigot, you should ask to speak to their supervisor. That can only "work in the moment". And it doesn't merely defuse the situation, it ends it. Once the magic words are spoken, the discussion is over, and the moron has to scurry off and get their supervisor.

Stop victim blaming.

"WELL, this is what *I* would have done!" Its just SOOO condescending. You are making very hurtful comments on this thread, and it is helping NOONE BUT YOURSELF.

"Many times asserting you are "female" when it is obvious that you are not a natal female creates the impression that you are being deceptive."

So you're saying that no trans woman can ever state that she is female. Ever. That's an absurd position, and completely negates the validity of gender identity. I suppose you'll make an exception for transwomen who pass perfectly. Well, I've got a newsflash for you. Passing is in the eye of the beholder. I know natal women who don't pass. I reject treating people differently based on how they look. Call me whacky, but that's what I believe.

"Other terms like "birth defect" may feel correct to you (did to me!), but don't coincide with what non-gender-experienced doctors view as a "birth defect"."

This is what's known as a red herring, since no one in this entire discussion or the original article has used that phrase. You've got an agenda, and damn if you aren't going to pursue it even if it isn't part of this exchange.

"Using jargon like "gender expression" or even "gender identity" can also lead to the perception that you're being less than open."

What you call jargon are the commonly accepted phrases in both medicine and the law. There are innumerable non-discrimination laws that codify the phraseology. If people are unfamiliar with them, aside from having them pick up a newspaper or a magazine (since the issues are commonly written about), they can do some research and find those phrases in medical and psychological publications.

"I've tried "Trans 101" education in the past and found it less than successful."

Perhaps you aren't very good at it.

"What I ask instead is that if you shaved men and women's heads and dressed them in burlap bags, could you figure out who's who?"

Yes, often you can. But if you couldn't, trust me, some bold person would undoubtedly ask, 'are you a man or woman?'. So that's a useless exercise; especially since it's neve going to happen.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 9:35 AM

Rory,

Hundreds of thousands of people who might someday want to transition and have all of their expenses covered under their group coverage, and be protected by the diversity policy of that company, are able to do so today thanks in large part to how I handle "Trans 101". I'd be happy to provide you -- off-list -- references to senior executives from that company who'd confirm what I'm telling you.

A simple "Thank-you" would do. It would also be nice if you'd stop playing the game you're playing. It does get very old.

As for jargon -- yes, legal terms are also a form of jargon or "lingo". "Gender identity" is jargon. Have a definition:

"The specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group."

Nons generally don't know what "gender identity" means, and probably haven't a clue they have a "gender identity". Not having the experiences that would inform them about "gender identity" and "gender expression" is part of cisgender privilege.

You can work with their ignorance, or you can work against it. One approach generally works, and the other approach generally doesn't. Unless you are into self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors, picking the approach that's more likely to produce results tends to be the better choice.

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Stefffinie Marriner | July 27, 2010 8:23 PM

hi I am from New Zealand and i find this type of treatment unspeakable and very bad. so far my experiances here in New Zealand have been very good. I am very sorry that you have had to go through what would have been hell.

I am small and seemingly pass well and I have never experienced this first hand. However------I see this action on the part of this hospital as nothing but flagrant hooliganism and discrimination. There is no excuse for it whether you are trans, African-American, or even (gasp) an undocumented worker or a Muslim. Everyone working there needs to be fired. With so many Americans out of work, these bozos should move over for more ethical people.

"You should stop using the trans-world "How to shout down disagreements" playbook. It does get old."

At 53 comments into this discussion, to attempt to claim that there's an effort to shut down disagreement is laughable on its face. However, since you're making that charge, I challenge you to prove your assertion by citing specific examples of where I engaged in ad hominem attacks and used red herring arguments. I'll help you out though, so you don't have to scour the comments. There aren't any.

As for the purported "trans-world" playbook, I've never seen one or even heard of one. If you're going to claim that there is one, it's incumbent upon you to cite your evidence of its existance, what it says, and who wrote it. And touting your own (trans)worldliness and/or denigrading mine isn't an adequate response.

BTW, even if there was such a thing, to imply that I need to rely on one, and don't have my own opinions, and the wherewithall to present and defend them, is insulting.

"No, of course I'm not into being abused. I'm into getting results, and if defusing a tense situation is what is needed, then I will defuse a tense situation. Losing your cool, being defensive, insisting on something that is counterfactual -- these things do NOT help resolve a bad situation. They cause the opponent to become more entrenched."

I have no idea why you keep insisting that I have advocated "losing your cool" or being confrontative. This is a figment of your imagination. Standing up for yourself isn't an affront. There's nothing wrong with being factual and expecting some dignity. And if your opponents are of ill will, and don't give two shits whether or not there's less tension, being deferrential to them will only embolded them to be crueler. Because that's how bullies operate.

And BTW, medical professionals aren't supposed to be your opponents. They're supposed to do their jobs, which is to help the sick regardless of who they are, or how you feel about them. That is their duty and their professional and moral responsibility.

Finally, the fact that you characterize a transwoman saying she is female as "counterfactual" suggests that you don't understand the concept of gender identity, and don't believe in the validity of transition. Without that core belief, I don't see how you can be an ally of this community.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 7:38 PM

Rory,

I'm not the only person who noted that you're being argumentative and confrontational.

You're also attacking =me= rather than my arguments, and for that I'll be clicking the "Report" button.

"You're also attacking =me= rather than my arguments, and for that I'll be clicking the "Report" button."

NAME IT! Name how I attacked you. You simply cannot make that charge without providing evidence. So good luck with the "report" button. You can't win the argument on merits, so you call the cops to raid the game. Nice.

Rory I have read this entire thread. I am somewhat perplexed at why you keep ranting at FCH who has a long history of advocating for transsexuals and is in fact one herself. She may state things in ways you take issue with but she has simply been stating how an open and clear communications approach often works well.

You never answered the question I posed to you. Are you spoiling for conflict? It has appeared that way to me. If that is incorrect please let me know. I think the discussion should be focused on how people in Erin's type of situation can best handle both the immediate challenges of getting descent emergency medical care and then the ways that these difficult abuses can be addressed after the emergencies are over.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 9:13 PM

Deena,

Thanks for having my back.

At this point we need to be focusing on getting Erin to a doctor before August 1st, which is when she indicated she'd have the money.

Coughing up blood isn't a good thing, and Rory has made this discussion all about how to secure our rights (while offending others ...), and not at all about how to get Erin the care she needs. It's what we call in Texas "All hat and no cattle", or "All talk and no action" or "I'm a big trans-advocate, but I can't seem to get Erin to the hospital because I'd rather beat my chest and prove how trans-advocate-y I am."

The debate over tactics and strategies will go on forever. Erin needs medical care =now=. Is there someone in Indiana who knows Erin in meatspace who can start doing something? If not, how do we get someone in touch with Erin in meatspace? Lawyers are great. Erin needs a doctor at the moment. Let's get her patched up, then she can sue the f@ckers.

There needs to be no more squabbling until Erin knows what's wrong with her body and is receiving proper medical treatment. Then we can go back to squabbling. I promise.

Erin_Equality | July 28, 2010 9:36 PM

Like I had said above, I have money and a ride to get to the doctor before the first. I am going the day after tomorrow, which is friday. I would go tomorrow but my partner has to work. So friday it is. The issue of going to a hospital is solved. Taken care of and paid for :D

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 10:18 PM

You're getting the medical paid for as well?!? Props to the folks here and there for handling that.

Please, let us know how things work out.

Take care, be well.

FurryCatHerder | July 28, 2010 9:03 PM

Rory,

1). You suggested I was into abuse -- "Are you friggin kidding me?? Or are you just naturally into being abused?"

2). You've attacked my understanding of "gender identity". Apparently I have enough of one to pay a trip to Neenah.

3). You've attacked my belief in the validity of transitioning. What? I did it for my health?

4). You attacked the results of 15 years of involvement -- 1995 to 2010 -- in this community and the significant results and benefits to others I've achieved. "I don't see how you can be an ally of this community."

5). You've repeatedly distorted what I've written, claiming that "no trans woman can ever state that she is female" when the best you can get from me is "If the fact that I was born male is at all relevant to why I'm at the hospital, the staff is made very plainly aware of that fact."

6). You've repeatedly misrepresented explanations of conflict reduction -- a very widely used, and highly respected technique -- as "But please don't ask other vulnerable people to be subservient and bow low to the Masters."

What you've done is essentially deny my identity as a transsexual woman by asserting that because I don't think or act the way you do, that I can't possibly be one (implied from the assertion that I can't be an "ally" -- all members of a community are, to some extent, "allies" of their own community).

Named enough?

Now. What have you actually done to actually get Erin to an actual doctor so she can get an actual diagnosis? Not "What have you blogged", but what are you actually doing? Anything? I'm in Texas. I have an excuse for not driving to Indiana. What's your excuse?

FCH, you obviously don't how the faintest idea what an ad hominem attack is, or the difference between a personal attack, and questioning your ideas. You might also want to read the Terms of Service (TOS) before accusing someone violating them. That is what the "report" button is for. Not because you don't like what someone else says, or you can't figure out how to refute it.

"1). You suggested I was into abuse -- "Are you friggin kidding me?? Or are you just naturally into being abused?""

Asking about your personal proclivities is not a personal attack. If I had said, 'what kind of sicko are you for being into abuse', that would be an ad nominem attack because that would be calling you a name. Further, I didn't pass judgment on whether being into abuse was good or bad. I just asked if that was the case.

"2). You've attacked my understanding of "gender identity". Apparently I have enough of one to pay a trip to Neenah."

Questioning your knowledge isn't saying you are stupid, which would be ad hominem. And being an expert in gender identity disorder isn't a requirement for a trip to Neenah. You just need to have it. But it's a nice little town, and the crab and asparagus bisque was to die for! It's the best I ever had.

"3). You've attacked my belief in the validity of transitioning. What? I did it for my health?"

Well, if I had attacked your belief in transition, that is perfectly acceptable under the TOS, because your beliefs aren't you. I am free, as is everyone else, to challenge them. It isn't a personal attack.

However, I didn't attack your belief in transition. I questioned if you thought it was valid. Questioning the premise of a thesis is central to every discussion. If you are unwilling to have yours examined, then I suggest you aren't interested in participating in the discussion.

I questioned it based on your own statement characterizing a transwoman who says she is female is being "counterfactual". "Counterfactual" is a concocted way of saying it's a lie. If a transwoman is lying by saying she is female, then I don't see how you can logically reconcile the validity of the results of transition. That's a pretty big deal if you don't see trans people in our true genders. If you hadn't said it, I couldn't have questioned it. If you don't want to stand by your words, that's fine. That's why I gave you the opportunity to address it. And instead, you accused me of wrongdoing.

"4). You attacked the results of 15 years of involvement -- 1995 to 2010 -- in this community and the significant results and benefits to others I've achieved. "I don't see how you can be an ally of this community.""

If you don't believe that trans people can be our true selves, to coin a phrase, how can you help our cause? Asking that question isn't a personal attack, and your "results" aren't protected by the TOS.

"5). You've repeatedly distorted what I've written... "

I have been very specific in addressing exactly what you've said. However, even if I had distorted what you said, that is still not a personal attack against you. It isn't ad hominem.

"6). You've repeatedly misrepresented explanations... "

Ditto above.

"What you've done is essentially deny my identity as a transsexual woman... "

I have never said you weren't a transsexual woman. Nor do I especially care if you are or aren't a transsexual woman. (Isn't that "lingo"?) I don't discriminate.

" ...by asserting that because I don't think or act the way you do, that I can't possibly be one... "

I have never asserted there is a requirement for transsexuals to think or act a certain way. This is something you've made up out of whole cloth. It isn't a part of the definition of a transsexual, nor do I think it should be.

"Named enough?"

You haven't even made a dent. Not a single charge you have leveled against me on this list is a personal attack. Don't believe me? None of my posts have been deleted, in spite of your hitting the "report" button.

"Now. What have you actually done to actually get Erin to an actual doctor so she can get an actual diagnosis? Not "What have you blogged", but what are you actually doing? Anything? I'm in Texas. I have an excuse for not driving to Indiana. What's your excuse?"

Good tactic - changing the subject. If I was able to drive to Indiana, and take Erin to the hospital, I would have been glad to. But inasmuch as I live 2,000 miles further away from her than you do, it's just not an option. But nice try; trying to guilt trip me, even though it doesn't make much sense to expect someone who you have no idea where I live to take personal responsibility for this errand. Bravo. But I really don't need to justify myself to you and make an excuse. I did so to illustrate the absurdity of your position.

FurryCatHerder | July 29, 2010 2:02 PM

Rory,

Asking about your personal proclivities is not a personal attack. If I had said, 'what kind of sicko are you for being into abuse', that would be an ad nominem attack because that would be calling you a name. Further, I didn't pass judgment on whether being into abuse was good or bad. I just asked if that was the case.

Ah, so you feel it is okay to make baseless accusations which skate on the line of being abuse, and then claim that you're not name calling? I asked you why you felt it was okay to alienate people, and attack allies and the best you can do is "Neener, neener, you can't touch me!" That usually fits the definition of "Troll".

"Counterfactual" isn't a polite way of saying "lied". "lying: Disposed to or characterized by untruth: a lying witness. See Synonyms at dishonest." "dishonest: Disposed to lie, cheat, defraud, or deceive."

"Counterfactual" means "Running contrary to the facts".

The definition of "fact" that is most relevant to this discussion is "fact: a truth verifiable from experience or observation".

This is your M.O. -- make a baseless accusation in order to inflame, alienate, dominate, create conflict, etc. and then go "Who me?" Yes, Rory, you.

What you've done is conflate "sex" and "gender". As well as ignore what "sex" actually means. But so you know what "sex" is -- in this discussion -- have definitions for "male" and "female":

"male: Of, relating to, or designating the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova."

"female: Of or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young."

Those are just the dictionary definitions, and words can either have meanings, or people can just make crap up however they like.

You're free to point out that those definitions suck (they do -- I'll point that out for you), or even that trans-ness and trans-education is about deconstruction and exposing the lie that "sex" and "gender" have squat to do with each other (they don't -- "sex" is a biological construct, "gender" is a social construct, and "constructedness" its own giant mess), or that "sex" can't be defined so tidily as to reduce it to reproduction (it can't be -- sex isn't binary, and it isn't all in the genitals ...), or even that "gender" is cultural and temporal and racial and ethnic and a million other things (see Scots men in skirts, compared to French men in dresses, or Arab men kissing each other and holding hands, compared to gay men in The Village kissing and holding hands ...)

However, for a person who was born with "organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova" (pick me) to assert they are "female" is "counterfactual" within some perfectly valid belief structures. Those belief structures might be different than yours or mine (they are different from mine), but you don't get to assert some kind of universally accepted reality. I've got the teenager with a birth certificate saying I'm his father to prove one claim, and the letter from a nice guy in Neenah to prove another. That and I'm cute and cuddly and generally a MILF.

Now, for the big question -- do you believe that sex change actually changes =sex=? Or do you believe that "Of or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young" doesn't accurately reflect what "female" means -- because those are two very different sets of issues. One is indicative of a delusional psychological state (the better gender shrinks will agree with that), and the other is indicative of a deeper understanding of things like "sex" and "gender" and Post-Modernism.

See, the issue is that both sex and gender are, for the most part, social constructs, and a lot of people don't agree with that. Doesn't mean they are right, and it doesn't mean that =we= are right. It means, as I stated, that if one says "I am female" and they are a biological father (pick me), that the assertion can be, you know, challenged as not exactly factually correct. And asserting "I am female" is a true statement is privileging post-modern concepts of "sex" and "gender" over the more traditional (and often wrong, inaccurate, incomplete, useless, etc -- but still very widely accepted ...) concepts of them.

Does it mean I'm not "female"? No, what it means is that using the definitions I find most valid, I am female. I am not, however, Queen of the Universe (working on it -- haven't quite gotten there just yet) and I don't get to dictate that everyone on the planet actually agree with me, and that some of those people (who are either un-educated, over-educated, traditionalists, biologists or just plain bigots) are going to insist I'm "male".

Now, here's the tricky part -- does saying I'm "male" make it so? Does saying I'm (gasp) a "man" make that so? No, of course not -- just as saying "I am Queen if the Universe" has yet to make that happen, no one can say "you're male, and you're a man" and make that happen. I mean, for one thing, "male", "female", "man" and "women" are all social constructs in the first place and no one can make you be (not even yourself) a socially constructed thing simply by assertion. And that's why your approach isn't just wrong, it's completely counter-productive. Sure, you can bludgeon people into agreement, but they will resent the f@ck out of you. We can do better that that, and people =deserve= better than that. And no one gets to rent space in my head for free. Not even you.

You have to get the other person to agree to =your= definition and all you can muster is dominance, aggression, bullying, name-calling, fear-mongering, etc. behavior. How is that working out for you? Made a real difference in the world this week? Or just make lots of blog posts and piss people off?

The standard version of "Trans 101" doesn't work because it doesn't address what "sex" and "gender" even =are=, other than the usual trans-centric "I am female if I say so" / "I am a woman if I say so" approach. It's like "gender identity" -- "the internal sense of ones gender", as if people had access to what others even sense as their "gender". Render unto me a f@cking break -- I don't even know what other white people (I have a lousey white identity on account of I'm not pink) feel, much less what other women (never had a little-girl-hood), other lesbians (knocked up too many women I lawfully married), or other transsexuals (many of whom hate me because I'm not engaged in "collusion with delusion"). Nice term, but mostly gibberish when looked at too closely -- which I'm perfectly happy to do, just as I'm perfectly happen to investigate "sex", "gender" and "troll".

I'm a woman because I "do" woman, and people perceive that I "do" woman, and they agree -- "She's a woman". In other words, I'm a woman the same as every other woman -- we're all women because society has a box of some shape and size and it puts people who conform to the meets and bounds of that box into that box. And that box? It's the social construct we call "woman", and that's all it is.

FurryCatHerder | July 31, 2010 7:50 PM

Is there any word on Erin's trip to the doctor yesterday (Friday, 7/30)? Any followup help she could use from us?

Erin_Equality | July 31, 2010 8:04 PM

My trip to Indy was postponed until tomorrow. I had to take my son to the doctor, and there were a few financial complications that have been resolved. I am going in the morning, aug. 1st.

Erin please let us hear from you when you have a chance. I hope all is well.

Robin Wolfe | August 4, 2010 6:13 PM

Erin, just wanted to say that if you need something to lift your spirits, you should take a look at BMH's Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/ballmemorialhospital?v=wall ) - they've been getting slammed by many people who are outraged and horrified by the (lack of, and poor) treatment you received at BMH.

FurryCatHerder | August 6, 2010 4:07 PM

Erin,

Please let us know that things are going well or what we can do to help make them go well.

Not being a stalker, just being concerned ;)

I wandered in late in the discussion. although it is sickening the things we go through. It is heartening to find that since these post BMH has since released a public statement of issuing transgender sensitivity training. Of course we know it's a day late and a dollar short.

It's a painful thing for anyone to go through.

I have to admit that fch is right on the ball (pun not intended)- speak softly but then be sure to follow up with a very big lawyer.

It is most disheartening that these ladies' child had to witness all this. I hope to hear more about Erin's case.

In the meantime i just have to say, FCH, i love your writing style. You remind me of a meetspace friend of mine.

Thank you, Erin, for speaking up.

There are situations when the surgical status is relevant, but this isn't one of them. The first 1,000+ items in the differential diagnosis of hemoptysis don't involve genitalia.

I'm so sorry you had to experience this and that your wife and your son had to be there to watch. But I'm also really glad that it happened to someone like you who's strong enough to tell your story to anybody and everybody who will listen - AND PRESS CHARGES!

Get well soon. :)


Almost this exact same situation happened to me in the Bronx (Westechester Square hospital), several years ago, it was the day after Pride, and I carried my son almost 2 miles on my back, I went to the hospital because my pain management wasn;t working, and when they wanted to give me Toradol, I said, if opoid painkillers are doing NOTHING, why would Toradol work?, so the nurse went and got the doctor.

The doctor then said "It's refusing treatment, just discharge he, she, it, whatever it is, and get it out of here"

I was in excrutiating pain, turned out to be a herniated disc. I was *admitted* immediately to another hospital after calling the LGBT pride center locally and asking which hospital to go to to avoid the same thing.

We go through this all the time. I am not surprised that Muncie, IN was an issue when I experienced this in *New York City"

(BTW, I got the help I needed, but not after less severe issues with my gender and where they were going to admit me to (bedwise) in the hospital I went to, they ended up giving me a private room.

-SP