For/To what will you or must you re/act?

“The Business of Being Born” and “Diagnosing Differences” both focused on how the medical profession has a very narrow view on pregnancy and transsexuals respectively. While some physicians may hold these views due to monetary or other selfish reasons, other physicians just might be uninformed. For example, there is a consistent belief in the medical field that midwives are uneducated and inducing pregnancy is for the women’s benefit and there is little exposure to other views, so the medical students hold on to these views as facts and may unintentionally harm their patients. Similarly, since the DSM is held in high regard in the psychiatric field and it identifies transexuality as a disease, it can mislead metal health professionals into believing so and cause their patients emotional pain. So I believe it is important to reach out to the current physicians and medical students and educate them on alternative approaches and views on issues such as birthing and transexuality individually and with organizations. Of course this won’t always work. Many individuals explained in “Diagnosing Differences” that since some of their experiences with psychiatrists have been so frustrating, they decided to lie to them that they felt their transxuality is a disease. And many feel they are not obligated to educate physicians on what they should already know.  However, I think personally trying to educate physicians can lead to greater benefits for yourself and others around you.

Epstein, Abby, Amy Slotnick, Paulo Netto, Ricki Lake, Madeleine Gavin, and André Pluess.The Business of Being Born. Burbank, Calif.: New Line Home Entertainment, 2008.

Ophelian, Annalise, and Anne Prewitt. Diagnosing Difference. San Francisco: Floating Ophelia Productions, 2009.

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2 Responses to For/To what will you or must you re/act?

  1. irism999 says:

    You bring up an excellent point. Yes, it is definitely important that those of the medical profession become more aware of how to help and effectively communicate with patients, specifically women and the transsexual community. However, I do not feel that it is the responsibility of the patients to make sure that healthcare providers understand this. It is helpful that members of the transsexual community provide research and produce documentaries such as “Diagnosing Gender” and “The Business of Being Born” for audiences across the nation. But it is ultimately the responsibility of healthcare workers to educate themselves and seek these resources. Thus I think that a movement within the medical field is needed. Healthcare providers, members of healthcare organizations, should organize education in regards to serving these populations. It is something that physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, and other health professionals should be talking about regularly.

    I have gained a new awareness for the issues that women and transsexual individuals experience in the medical field by watching two documentaries in class. And as a member of the healthcare workforce, I hope to use this new awareness to treat my patients in a fair manner and with a better form of communication. I know the I may not entirely understand how to communicate with certain patients such as transsexual individuals who come in for reproductive system screenings, but I will take on the responsibility to ask honest questions and continue to inform myself through education. Also, as a member of a national healthcare organization, I am inspired to propose to the group that we host a discussion on effective communication with transsexual individuals and women giving birth.

  2. I completely agree that physicians and other healthcare providers should be more educated and increase their understanding of transsexuality. Additionally, I can understand the frustrations articulated by trans individuals in “Diagnosing Differences” that the constant prodding of doctors for personal information can be frustrating and offensive. But if doctors can’t learn about such medical issues from the individuals themselves, where can they turn? As we have seen in the film, the DSM fails to properly explain transsexuality. If one of the most highly regarded medical texts cannot be trusted with regard to what has been terms “Gender Identity Disorder,” I argue that doctors don’t have anywhere else to turn to explore and learn more about the trans environment than the individuals themselves. I understand the frustrations of trans individuals at doctors that inquire about their personal lives with offensive questions, but I believe that the best way for doctors to become better educated is to enter civil conversation with trans people to obtain a first-hand explanation of transsexuality. In this way, physicians will obtain more knowledge and understanding to help them in future encounters with trans individuals.

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