Including Transgender Americans' Sex and Gender
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My name is Oliver Mitchell. I'm a 21-year-old, transgender American citizen.
Like everyone, I have been seeing doctors all my life. I have filled out countless medical forms that asked if I was male or female. I have been working since I could drive, like most Americans. I do my taxes, I fill out surveys, I leave reviews, I meet new people, like everyone else. Over and over, I am asked about my sex.
Don't get me wrong, it's relevant, it matters. Yet, more often than not the question states: What is your gender?
What does someone like me answer? All transgender, nonbinary, and questioning people, what do we say? Legally, genetically, physically, anatomically, I am female. There's no question there. I have two X chromosomes. I'm given away on my birth certificate and driver's license, tax and medical forms.
But it asked for gender. My gender is male. I'm beginning my transition. I've known on the surface for years and deeper than that all my life. I'm one of the boys. I should be able to say male when the question asks "What is your gender?" Right?
The truth is, I don't know. I have to ask. And when I ask, do you know what I am told? I'm told to put female, despite the fact that it asks for my gender.
If anyone is unsure, let's look these up. Google them with me.
The very first definition of "Gender" reads: "The state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)."
I repeat. "Typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones". My hair is short, I bite my nails, I wear boxers, I climb trees, I build things, I like working on cars, I wear men's clothes. Doesn't that make me a man by definition?
"Sex" is defined as: "Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions." This tells me I'm female.
I'm confused. Are you? When they ask for my gender, the answer is male. But when I'm in the doctor's office, wanting to talk about birth control or a referral to an OB/GYN, they'd send me home, even though I told them the truth.
If you want to know my sex, then ask for that.
There is so much more to this issue, but I don't want to overwhelm you. To begin, forms need to be required to ask for sex and gender, accordingly. To avoid the dilemma so many of us face of not knowing what to write. To escape the embarrassment of asking the receptionist or help desk what our answer should be, and the humiliation of checking the box that we've tried so hard to prove we don't fit inside. Medical forms, if not all questionnaires, need to ask for both gender identity and sex. This provides medical professionals with an accurate history of every patient. It opens doors to help others understand why this visually male, legally male, patient is asking about a hysterectomy. Why is this woman blushing and stuttering before she finally asks about a regular prostate exam? Why is he rejecting his testicular exam? Why is she rejecting her mammogram?
Whether you support transgender rights, we all live in a world where transgender people exist. Would you deny a genetic male their rights to prevent testicular cancer? Or a genetic female a regular, lifesaving, mammogram?
Our bodies have the same medical problems yours do, but many of our doctors and insurance providers are blind to them. Help create a healthier America.
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