Saturday, March 10, 2012

fighting to get tested

it had been six months since my last hiv test.  i like to get tested every 3 months as i am very sexually active (as most prevention folks will reccomend to gay men who are very sexually active).  I am almost always safe but there have been exceptions. 

3 months ago while at the doctor for other matters of the gynecological variety i asked the nurse if i could get an hiv test as i was there and it had been almost 3 months.  i keep track of these things so i know that it was basically like 3 days before it would be 3 months.  the nurse acted very put out from the moment i asked (this is a LGBT clinic by the way) and looked at my chart and said it hasn't been 3 months yet and before i could say anything else walked out the door.   i gave in and just did not push it.

i have written about this dynamic before (transfags of color are not at risk) where i assume that the nurse considers me low risk because she considers me a woman or at best to have 'female' genitals, probably assumes i fuck only women i.e. i'm a lesbian... whatever.... transphobic bullshit not to mention that non trans women who fuck non trans women also should be encouraged to get tested too...  sexist bullshit...

at this point it has been over six months and as always i'm nervous and anxious about being tested but i know its been six months and i need to do it.  i'm again already at the clinic so i ask for an hiv test.  the nurse is nice and says ok but she has to get someone else to do it as she is not certified yet.  cool.  i see my doctor and my appointment is over.  the nurse is no where to be seen.  i have to leave my exam room go find her and ask again for a test again.  she says, oh, sorry and says she will get someone to test me.

i wait for about another half an hour before finally someone comes to test me.  again this is a LGBT clinic that i know does tons of testing, its not a busy day, the floor i'm on is actually really empty of patients.  the nurse comes and she is someone i've seen before.  she tests me and i sit to wait out the 20 minutes - which of course is stressful and anxiety ridden.  20 minutes pass and i can hear the timer go off.  again no one comes for another 20 minutes which is not long but when you have already been agonizing for 20 feels like forever....  also in the past they have been really good about it and give the results right after the 20 minute period so my mind starts spinning into paranoid thoughts of maybe its taking so long to tell me because its positive....

finally the nurse walks in and says flippantly, "you knew your were negative John (not my real name)" and hands me the print out.  of course i'm relieved about the results but am annoyed by her attitude.  unless she didn't even bother to look at my screening paper work  which is possible i clearly marked that i had unprotected sex (it was one person and a particular situation) but she didnt ask so for all she knows i could have been having unprotected sex with hundreds of people.

i have never heard a gay man of color who lives in the big city that i live in say he had to fight to get an hiv test.  just feeling a bit tired of it all.


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  2. Fucked up. The fact that you're there asking for testing, belonging to a couple of different at-risk demographics no matter how they parse your identity -- the fact that they should KNOW, as medical providers, that trans people face tremendous internal and external barriers to accessing medical care, including justified fear of prejudicial treatment from medical personnel, yet they're not only NOT applauding you for taking the initiative to get tested, but they're acting resentful and dismissive of your medical concerns -- fucked up on so many levels.

    Something in the same vein but much less severe happened to me at my college clinic -- they told me to get tested every six months not because I'M gay but because my *partner* is. When I transfer away and no longer need their services, they're going to get some feedback about profiling and offering risk-assessment judgements without basis and with much potential for causing real medical harm.

    Being that they're an LGB"T" clinic, is there any organization that would be able to contact them on your (anonymous) behalf and suggest they reconsider their risk-evaluation process? It might be as simple as a well-written letter on the right letter head gets them to do a little staff training and makes your life a little easier. Just a thought.

    Good luck, hang in there.

    1. much thanks for the support and validation. so sorry about your college clinic. access to adequate and affirming health care is so hard for trans and genderqueer folks... and yeah good tip on contacting the clinic. i know a good number of folks who have without much changing....much thanks. hang in there as well


  3. KICK ass for demanding your right to be tested and fuck that nurse and her behavior.

    I also want to say...that I love the amount of traffic I get from this site to my own blog (My Feet Only Walk Forward) and I am proud to be walking this world with you amazing folks at Transfag Sex Journals!

  4. Thanks Brandon! The feeling is mutual. Much luv and respect : ) TQ