Skip to main content

Physical, physical...

Last Friday the 13th, of all days, I was scheduled for my annual physical examination (PE). Let me say at the outset that unlike other transwomen I know, I don’t dread routine medical check-ups. Even if I’ve met my share of medical professionals who didn’t know any better, still I am very comfortable in the presence of health care workers. This is probably because I come from a family of nurses who impressed on me growing up the utmost importance of one’s well-being and the merits of getting regular medical exams. So I always look forward to my annual PE and hate it when I miss it.

What I don’t like about it is the general confusion that ensues every time. At the University of the Philippines Health Service (UPHS) (formerly the UP Infirmary), where I went last Friday, you have to ask for your records before a consult and apparently, the UPHS has devised a new color scheme for patients along gender lines: yellow for female and green for male or maybe it’s the other way around, I’m not so sure.

Now for the sake of full disclosure I must say that save for an appendectomy I’ve never had any other surgery. Because of prolonged and regular intake of female hormones, however, I look the way I do in the picture below. So I detest official documents because they clearly do not reflect the person that I am now; and because I have not changed my personal data, my documents still reflect the name my parents gave me and the sex that I was assigned to at birth on which that name is based.


While at the window, the staff on the other side asked me, “Ma’am, are you a student, faculty or employee?” I said, graduate student so she disappeared into the room full of records. When she came back, she had my papers and a knowing look on her face. Thankfully she did not attach my record to a colored folder. I sensed a change in her though and this was confirmed when instead of calling me ma’am she addressed me by my last name and said, “Fontanos? Please proceed to triage.” Okay.

So off I went. The triage nurse was nice enough and just asked me what the PE was for. I said for my regular check-up. So she asked me to go to Room 1 and see the doctor there. The sign at the door said the doctor was out so I waited for a few minutes. Soon the doctor came smelling of cigarette smoke. Perhaps he came from a smoking break. I followed him inside. When I sat in front of him, he asked me what I was there for. I said for my annual PE. He said, “Why did they assign you to me?”

I was bewildered by the question and said I didn’t know. He said, “Can you go back to the triage and ask?” Then he took a look at my record and had a moment of realization. He apologized profusely and said, “Oh my God! Wait, I’m so sorry. I’m so embarrassed!” I told him not to be as there was no need to. It turns out that part of the gender segregation scheme of the UPHS is assigning male patients to male doctors and female patients to female ones. So the kind doctor was confused that a female patient was sent his way. I was oblivious to this and honestly do not mind the gender of my examining physician. Growing up I’ve consulted with all sorts of doctors, male, female, young and old. In fact last year, I had my PE done in a hospital at the Ortigas Central Business District and the doctor was a trans woman! It does not really matter what the gender of my doctor is but apparently it does to some people. Isn’t this a subtle kind of gender discrimination though? Shouldn’t we be teaching people to be comfortable in their own skins dealing with people of any gender and that includes our own personal physicians?

The male doctor and I had a laugh about his confusion. He checked me using his stethoscope and gave me slips of paper for lab tests, dental and X-ray. I went to the dental clinic first where a doctor examined me. It was uneventful and when the dental exam was over she asked me to come back for fillings and a cleaning. I passed by the lab next and gave them a ready stool and urine sample. A nurse there also got a blood sample from me. While doing so she said I had very nice hair and looked cute. I smiled and said thanks. When I told Carl, a guy I’ve known for ages, about this he asked me what was wrong with that picture. Of course there is nothing wrong with getting compliments from other people, it’s just that it seems when complete strangers realize or learn that you’re trans, barriers are simply broken. They act like they’ve known you for ages and tend to ask, albeit unwittingly, all sorts of intrusive questions—something that they will never do in regular conversations with other non-trans men and women. The questions range from the usual, “Are your boobs real?” to the more offensive, “Have you had a sex transplant?” First of all, you never ask a woman if her boobs are real upon first meeting and second of all, there is no such thing as a sex transplant! That medical procedure has not been invented yet. But that’s another story for another time.

That day I felt like I was having a Calpernia Addams moment. Calpernia is a trans activist in the US on whose life the movie Soldier’s Girl is based. After a great tragedy in her life she went on to achieve celebrity status and starred in the first ever US reality dating show featuring a trans woman (ala the Bachelorette) called Trans American Love Story. She has a hilarious video on YouTube called Bad Questions to Ask a Transsexual and I urge you to watch it here. You can also visit her web site here.

After the labs, I proceeded to my last stop for the day, the X-ray unit. I handed the guy at the window there my Form-5. He took it, logged it and asked me “Ma’am where is the patient?” A little chagrinned, I told him that the patient was me. Another round of apologies followed. The guy said, “I’m so sorry Ma’am. I didn’t know.” I said it was okay and then I was asked to proceed inside where the X-ray machine was. There, the Calpernia Addams moment went into full swing. Clued in on me by the guy at records, the X-ray guy said “Hey I know another girl just like you. She had a sex transplant already. Her boy friend is a foreigner. Do you have a boy friend? Is he a foreigner? Have you had a sex transplant?” Arghhh! Onli in da Pilipins!


I guess the bottom line of this all is educate them...
Ming Meows said…
philippines will always be philippines. we just have to get used to it. though we can change people one at a time. education it is.
Oliver said…
@ Dexter

I agree there's much work to do in term making the public aware of the intricacies of homosexuals esp. transgendered individuals...

And isn't it interesting enough that the hottest media personality is a transgender as well?

I feel like Bebe's new found fame would be better put into use if she'd use her position as a platform for advancing some gay causes instead of sashaying on TV and making a circus out of himself.

Popular posts from this blog

Mga parausang lumang sinehan

NAG DESISYON na ang Korte Suprema na labag sa Konstitusyon ang ordinansa na nagbabawal ng short time sa mga motel sa siyudad ng Maynila.

Wala na ring balak pa umanong maghain ng apela si mayor Alfredo Lim sa naturang desisyon.

Nagbabala naman si Lim na handa niyang ipasara ang anumang motel sa lungsod ng Maynila sakaling may makita sila na pinapayagan na magpapasok ng mga estudyante para magshort time.
Pero, teka, ito talaga ang pakay ko, ang mga lumang sinehan sa Metro Manila.

Taong 2005, balak ko na itong iparating sa dati kong boss na Kongresista, ang patuloy na pamamayagpag ng mga lumang sinehan sa Maynila. Subalit, may tila tinik sa aking lalamunan na nakabara. Tila, wala akong boses sa tuwing ako ay maghahanda sa aking mga sasabihin. Tila, nakagapos ang aking mga kamay para isulat ang mga hakbang na dapat kong irekomenda para masulosyunan na ito.

Alam ko, ikaw ay pamilyar ukol sa mga lumang sinehan sa buong Kamaynilaan.

Sa unang pasok ko sa ganitong sinehan, ako ay tuwang tuwa. Napan…


NGAYON ANG IKA 111st NA ANIBERSARYO NG ARAW NG KALAYAAN NG PILIPINAS. Ngunit, sa paglipas ng isang daan at labing isang taon, tunay nga ba tayong malaya na?

May mga pagkakataong gusto kong isipin na hindi na tayo nakagapos sa mga bansang banyaga dahil nagkaroon na tayo ng kalayaan sa pamamalakad ng gobyerno. Ngunit, ano ang kalagayan ng mga Pilipino ngayon? Mayroon na nga ba siyang dangal na matatawag? Taas noo na nga ba ang bawat Pilipino kahit kanino?

Sa mga nakalipas na araw, samu’t saring problema ang dinaranas ng ating bansa. Mga problemang lalong nagpapalugmok ng bawat mamamayan. Mga problemang animo’y walang katapusan. Paano babangon ang isang Juan dela Cruz kung mismong mga namumuno sa ating bayan ang nagbabangayan? Paano tayo makakalaya kong mismong mga halal ng bayan ang siyang nanguna upang itali ang bawat mahihirap na pinoy sa kanilang pamamahala?Paano na ang walang tigil na pagbulusok ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin? Ang walang humpay na pagtaas ng gasolina. Paano pa m…

Ang Kondisyon ng HIV at AIDS sa Pilipinas

Akda ni Marlon Lacsamana

Taong 1984 ng sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay mayroong naitala na Pilipino sa Philippine’s National AIDS Registry ng Department of Health (DOH). Mula noon, umaabot na sa 3,589 ang nakalista na may HIV hanggang Disyembre ng 2008. Sa bawat taon, patuloy ang pagtaas ng bilang ng mga taong nabubuhay na may HIV sa bansa. Kapansin-pansin din ang bilis ng pagdami ng mga kasong naitala sa kasalukuyang dekada kumpara noong dekada ’80s at ’90s. Mula 1984 hangang 1989 ay may kulang-kulang sa 50. Sa taong 1990 hangang 1992 mahigit 50 pero kulang sa 100 ang mga kaso sa loob ng taon. Sa taong 1993 hangang 2004, humihigit na sa 100 ang kaso. Sa taong 2006 mahigit 300 ang naitala. At sa 2008 mahigit 500. (NEC, 2008).

Tanggap na ngayon sa bansa na ang HIV ay hidden and growing. Ito ay isang pagtingin na mula na rin sa UNAIDS. Ang pagsusuring ito ay bag na sa dating paniniwala na mula lamang sa mga mosk at risk population (MARPs) – persons in prostitutions and their clients, male…