Health Matters


Being comfortable with your doctor is important regardless of whether you are an LGBT youth or not. But having to deal with issues of same sex (perhaps asking for testing or advice) or asking for referrals regarding transgender issues can be tricky.

Being comfortable with your doctor is important regardless of whether you are an LGBT youth or not. But having to deal with issues of same sex (perhaps asking for testing or advice) or asking for referrals regarding transgender issues can be tricky.

Privacy

It is still implied that by telling your doctor why you are at their office and who you are, that they have consent to disclose this information at their discretion to help you. (For example, sharing symptoms with another doctor if they need a second opinion, or sending your throat swab to the laboratory for analysis.) You also can ask to see your medical records. However, doctors do have the right to not disclose all of their notes to you if they feel it will protect you or others. If you feel you are not being shown everything that you should be able to see, you can contact the provincial medical association for help.

If you go to the same GP as your family, your doctor still needs to respect and honour your privacy. If you are over the age of consent (14) your doctor does not have the right to give your medical information to your parents/guardian without your explicit consent. If you are under 14, your doctor can tell your parents without your consent. The best idea is to find your own GP if you are discussing matters with your GP that you would not want your parents/guardians to know. For most people, this is during their teens, or when they become sexually active.

Comfort

If you are uncomfortable with your doctor, you have the right to ask to be seen by a different doctor. You can also ask for a nurse to be in the your room with you while the doctor examines you. This extends to philosophical comfort as well; if you do not see eye-to-eye with your doctor, you can ask to see another. This is especially relevant when a specialist is seeing you after a referral from your GP. You can always go back to your GP and ask for a different referral.

Sexuality/Gender identity

Coming out to a doctor is never fun, but hopefully it goes smoothly. They are well informed, educated, and continue treating you respectfully : Great! If that does not happen, you might want to consider finding another doctor.

Sometimes doctors don’t know everything, don’t have the answers we’re looking for. Sometimes we take on an educating role with our doctors, especially if we are their only/first queer/trans patient. Teach them well! There are resources available to doctors, some of which are listed below.

Sexual Health

There are easy precautions that you can take to help ensure that you don’t get STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Use a condom or latex glove during anal and vaginal penetration. Use water-based lubes with latex condoms and gloves (the water-based lubes will not cause the latex to deteriorate). During oral sex, don’t get semen, blood or vaginal fluid in your mouth, since there is a risk of picking up some STIs that way. Using a condom or dental dam prevents spreading STIs from oral sex. It is also advisable not to perform oral sex within two hours of flossing or brushing your teeth, since these activities could cause cuts in the gums, providing entry points for the infections. Sex toys can pass on parasites, hepatitis A, HIV and a number of other STIs, so put condoms on your toys.

And get tested, regularly, if you are at risk, or if you and your partner want to have sex without a condom. Don’t assume you or your partner(s) are STI negative just because you feel healthy! (Many STIs do not have any noticeable symptoms.)

Trans Health

If you are trans, and are wanting to transition, talk to your GP and/or contact the Gender Identity Clinic at the Montreal General Hospital. They can educate your GP, explain the transition process to you, let you know what is, and is not, covered by healthcare, and much more!

If you plan on taking hormones without your doctor’s help, please think carefully and still consider contacting the local resources and support at the very least; get some blood work done and make sure you are healthy. Because there is no standard dosage of hormones, you can easily create negative side effects. These include liver and heart problems, cholesterol and blood sugar problems, acne, mood swings, etc.

 

Adapted from an article I wrote for Youthquest! in 2003, with their permission.

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