Say Ahhhhh!

“The deadline for my camp physical form to be turned in is tomorrow,” Sam conveniently announces at 6:00 in the evening.

“Of course it is Sam,” I reply, not hiding my irritation for this last minute surprise.   He may be transgender, but he is just like any other 14 year-old in the communication (or lack thereof) department.  So off we go to the clinic that is located within the local super store – the only place I know of where you can get a physical at 6pm for $24.95.  Upon entering the clinic we find that the three exam room doors are closed.  Sara, the part-time medical receptionist and avid teen magazine reader parts with the headphone connected to an iPod just long enough to explain there is a 20-minute wait, and hands us a pager.  I am skeptical, wondering if there are really patients behind those doors or if it is a ploy to get us to shop, but I don’t complain because I appreciate the fact that I can get my kid a physical and my dog a 20 pound bag of food all in one stop.

When the pager begins to vibrate we head back to the clinic where we meet Physician’s Assistant Ed, a well-meaning, geeky 50 year-old man who is proudly wearing a stethoscope around his neck like it is an Olympic gold medal.  Prior to meeting Ed, Sam and I guessed we could be in and out of the clinic within 5 minutes.  We figured a quick listen of his heart, a peek into his eyes and ears and we would be good to go.  But no, it was painfully clear Ed was going to be thorough at his job and intended to review and check off every box on that form.  All 75 of them.

1.  Eyes

2.  Ears, Nose, Throat

3.  Mouth and Teeth

4.  Neck

5.  Cardiovascular (which included Sam dropping and doing 10 push-ups, much to his horror and my entertainment)

6.  Chest & Lungs

7.  Abdomen

8.  Skin

9.  Genitalia – Hernia

When he got to number 9, Ed kindly asked me to leave the exam room.  I asked why and he said, “Because I don’t know any 14 year-old boy who wants to have his mom in the room when I do what I am about to do next.”

Sam looked at me with eyes as wide as saucers and the thought bubble over his head, for which only a mother can read said, “Say something quick damn it!”

And so I smiled and calmly said, “Well actually, Sam is transgender, meaning he is biologically female, so I am sure he won’t mind if I stay.”

You can cue the screeching brakes sound effect about right now, because I am sure that was the noise Ed heard in his head.  He went from Mr. Thorough to Mr. How-fast-can-I-get-these-people-the-hell-out-of–my-exam-room.  He quickly ran a solid line down the entire ‘Normal’ box list on the right side of the form on pages 2 and 3 and then skipped to the bottom of the last page where he signed his name within 5 seconds flat.  With that he thanked us for using the clinic and showed us and our 20-pound bag of dog food to the door.

When we got out to the parking lot I looked at Sam and said, “I’m sorry honey, was that embarrassing for you?”  To which he replied, “God no – we get to go out for dinner 30 minutes sooner than I thought we would at the rate Ed was originally going.” Sam definitely has the right attitude about these unfortunate events that seem to happen to us more than the average family.

I knew that Sam was healthy or I would not have allowed Ed’s apparent prejudices affect the job he was hired to perform.  That said, I have to admit I found his level of unease quite surprising as well as disappointing for a medical professional.  And that is reason #289 why I am blogging to spread awareness…because everyone should be able to receive respectful medical attention without the caregiver visibly short-circuiting just because a patient’s mind and body do not match.


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14 Responses to Say Ahhhhh!

  1. Nancy Schneider says:

    I love the way you write, Leslie. So awesome. I love Sam’s attitude. He is so amazing. As are you, for spreading awareness and for knowing your son so well to read his thoughts. You and Sam rock.

  2. Nancy Schneider says:

    And totally agree with the medical professionals. I remember one nurse when I was going through infertility trying to tell me all about how to get pregnant with my husband, even though she was holding my thick file stating I was a lesbian. When I finally had to stop her talking to tell her I was gay, she instantly got uncomfortable.

    And not even going to go into the uncomfortableness of others and inappropriate comments. There are too many to count. Glad that Sam is so awesome about it.

  3. Jenn says:

    Gahh, this is what I am petrified off. My 4yo needs to have a pre school check up, and we need to do this at a new surgery as our old one shut at the beginning of the year. He has already been living as a girl for a year and a half and no one would pick him as a boy, ever. Yet, I need to go into a new doctors, and start all over, hoping like there is no tomorrow that a scene will not be made, at least in front of my child.

  4. KaiserMiller says:

    I love Sam and your matter-of-factness with someone like Ed. As a nurse, it grieves me that there isn’t across the board acceptance of the medical reality of being transgender. Your writing style is great…I could absolutely see the comic book-like screeching of Ed’s brakes to his Speedy Gonzalez pace to get the hell out of the room, complete with his nerdiness and nervousness to boot. I’m sure he had sweat beads on his brow.

    Kudos to you, Sam, your hubby and daughter.

  5. Jan Finken says:

    It would seem to me, that it is the PA’s mind and body that do not match…that his mind is full generalizations about people. It sounds like he made the assumption that all 14 year old boys were the same and wouldn’t want their Mom in the room, without asking you or Sam first, he asked you to leave the room.
    Then he was given this wonderful learning opportunity — I mean — how many transgender kids has he seen during his experience? He could have learned so much from talking to both you and Sam — instead, he took the ignorant route.
    It may serve him well to remember there was a time when male nurses were a rarity. I wonder how he would have responded had you reacted the same way to him.

  6. Karin says:

    Funny story! I still wanna know though, how do I subscribe to your blog? I want to remember to come back every day, but as a mom of 3, I can barely remember where I left my brain most days.
    Thanks, and keep writing! 🙂

    • admin says:

      Hi Karin! Thanks for your kind words! I am new to this…let me figure out how you can subscribe and I’ll be back to you shortly!

    • admin says:

      Hi Karin – I am STILL trying to figure out how you can subscribe, but in the meantime, I created a Facebook page for Transparenthood so if you are a FB user then if you simply ‘Like’ that page it will appear in your news feed. I am using that page whenever I have a new post so that will help in interim. Thanks for your patience! ; )

    • admin says:

      The subscription link is now live! Thanks for reading and for reminding me we needed one of these!

  7. Becky Olson says:

    I also enjoyed your blog- Thanks for sharing your wisdom! I look forward to reading more-and would also subscribe when you figure it out.

  8. Rana Kang says:

    Powerful story, Leslie. To think that this is just one example of what Sam experiences on a regular basis. Your blog makes me question the scope of my own ignorance and makes me want to be more sensitive to others. I’m sending a link to all my favorite health care workers so they might learn from this experience. While I’m at it, I should send a link to all my favorite parents so that we might be reminded how to support our children. I admire your commitment to promote awareness and make the world a better place. Keep the faith (and your sense of humor)!

  9. Debbie Kirihara says:

    Hi Leslie – I just read every word of your blog – I wish I could describe the feeling in my gut – the tears in my eyes – I am so proud of you. You are a wonderful mother. Maybe it is because you are such a talented writer, but your stories are incredibly moving and genuine. I wish Sam the best of everything in life. His courage humbles me.

  10. car repos says:

    It was pleasant to read through your blog. Your writing is very easy to read and understand.

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