Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I haven't written much lately, and what I have, has mainly been in my own little journal that will likely never be read by anyone other than myself.

The short of the matter is that my mom is dying. She's been on hospice since February and I've been trying to get back every few weeks to help care for her. I was home last week for her 63rd birthday, along with many of my mom's brothers and sisters.

My mom has been battling cancer for almost 6 years now, and unfortunately, her fight likely won't last much longer.

Last Friday, I had an evening flight booked home. Around Friday midday, I received an emergency email notice for a LGBT speaker request with Kaiser for Saturday. Since I was going to be back in town and didn't have any pressing matters until later Saturday evening, I figured I would do the gig to represent the T while talking about health care.

The gig dealt with Kaiser health interpreters (those at hospitals that interpret for those that cannot speak English) and their interaction with LGBT patients.

At some point in the three-hour session, the topic of how to handle sensitive information came up. A few weeks back, I received an email from Kaiser that stated:

As part of our commitment to personalized health care, Kaiser Permanente is asking all current health plan members to confirm their gender and date of birth, and to identify their race/ethnicity and level of education.

These details will be added to your electronic medical record and will help us as we continue to improve quality of care and health outcomes for all our members.

Providing this information is voluntary and it will remain confidential and secure:

What is your date of birth?

What is your sex?
Transgender Male to Female
Transgender Female to Male
Other (specify)

I read this email to the participants and mentioned that as a male-to-female transsexual, I still have a prostate that needs to be monitored as I age. I also get calls very often that I need to go in for a pap smear. When I went to my new gynecologist, I was prepared to go through the whole motion of explaining my situation. When I said I was a transsexual, he said that information was already in the system, and he seemed fairly knowledgeable...stating that he had a number of transsexual patients over the years.

He said I really didn't need a pap smear every year, but that I likely needed a pelvic exam every two years. He was going to look into how that could be entered into the system so that I wasn't getting phone calls for a pap smear all the time.

I had posted the email up on a trans-forum, as well, and there was a conversation as to be straight-forward and use the MTF label, or to maintain a level of privacy by declaring simply female. I mentioned this to the group of health interpreters and said it was sometimes difficult to disclose that much information to people because it changes things.

I still haven't responded to the email, but I'm hoping I will feel confident in Kaiser's care to enter the MTF response.