Today was my Follow-up visit with Dr. Winters. I haven’t written about him at this point, and I’ve been considering if I wanted to do so at all. The subject is so sensitive that I debated making it public. However, I’m going to write it out. I want to warn people that I’m going to make references to my body, so if you don’t want to read about that, be forewarned to turn away now.
So, back in January, I was referred to Dr. Winters by my therapist. I was warned up front that his bedside manor wasn’t the best, and that if I had questions I would need to have them ready up front, because he was typically in and out. I figured I could deal with this. My alternative was another doctor, but the wait time for an appointment was much longer.
So I chose the quicker alternative, thinking I didn’t want to wait any longer than I had to. Even still, my appointment was 3 weeks out. So on 2/6, I went into the University of Louisville Physicians office. I remember being excited about this appointment.. thinking that in a couple days I’d be on my way to the physical transition that I want so badly.
I started with a fellow. I didn’t get her name. She did the preliminary questionnaire and exam. It didn’t take long for the odd and inappropriate questions and comments to start. She mentioned my masculine clothing. I was wearing a fleece, a woman’s t-shirt, skinny jeans and chuck taylors. I don’t even know how you construe that outfit as being masculine. Then she asked about me not shaving my arms.
She had my strip down and put on the exam gown. I made sure when I took off my clothes to put my very pink panties on top of the pile, just to emphasise the point that I was not dressing masculine.
When she came back in, She examined my lymph nodes, and had me lower the top part of the gown and poked and prodded my breast area. Again, she asked about hair removal on my chest. I have very little chest hair to start with. Then she asked if she could examine my genitals. I agreed. She lifted my gown and looked but did not touch me down there. Once again, she commented on the lack of hair removal from my genitals. She was very focused on hair removal as being a key part of being a woman. I wanted to ask her if she shaved her own pubic hair.
She concluded her exam and had me cover back up. She left and when she came back, she brought with her Dr. Winters. He seemed nice enough, and he asked a few questions, mainly about family response, my therapy, etc.. They seemed fairly friendly. He examined my neck again, checked my chest.. and then, with no warning, no dinner, no gloves, just raised my gown and started groping my testicles and penis. Now, I don’t have any real mind crippling dysphoria with my genitals, but some trans women do. To the point where they don’t like to get naked and look at their own genitals, let alone have some random old white guy go on a scavenger hunt down there.
I let this happen. I don’t know, I didn’t like it, but I wanted to get hormones, so I was willing to put up with a little bit of nonsense to get where I needed to be. After it was said and done, he talked with me a little bit. He said we’d start with estrogen alone, without a testosterone blocker. Based on my research, I don’t agree with this approach, but I again, I am going to play the game to get what I needed. He wanted to do blood work, obviously.. He told me to get dressed and they’d come get me. So I did that, but this is where things get a little more weird. Dr. Winters comes back, and wants to know what my relationship with my father is like. How this is medically relevant is beyond me. I answer truthfully though. After blood work was done, I scheduled a new appointment for a follow-up.
This was on a Friday. On Monday, they called back. My cholesterol was very high, he wants to run a glucose tolerance test. I don’t know what cholesterol has to do with insulin and glucose, so I ask. I said “Is there a concern that I might be diabetic?”
His reply was terse and seemingly annoyed, “I wouldn’t be doing the test if I didn’t think there was concern.”
This actually made me mad, and I said “I’m not trying to argue with you, I just don’t know what the connection is, so that’s why I’m asking.”
His tone changes, and he explains what his thought process was, concern that estrogen would make the cholesterol problem worse, which could cause pancreatitis.
So on Wednesday, I come back and do the GTT, which was uneventful, but boring. I dressed more feminine this time, but I never saw the doctor. In fact, I didn’t hear back from him until Friday, 2/13. I was still at work when he called, and I will probably remember this conversation for the rest of my life. I was so upset at the end of the call that I could barely focus. I was just so genuinely upset and mad.
The basic gist of the call was that while I was not diabetic, I was insulin resistant. I needed to lose weight and get my cholesterol down. That he could not in good conscience prescribe estrogen to me in my current state. I just didn’t, and still don’t, understand this thought process. I am sure that there are any number of CIS women that have high cholesterol and are on estrogen supplements. So I asked him point blank, “If I was a (genetic) female presenting with high cholesterol, would you withhold estrogen from her?” His reply was no. But still, he would not give me hormones. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t seem to make the tears come out.
So, he put me on Lipitor and said to come back in a month. So… that brings us to today. I go back, and they recheck my vitals. Good news is I lost over 13 pounds since my initial visit. I spend no more than 5 minutes with the actual doctor. Since there had been so much emphasis on how I wasn’t presenting feminine enough, I went all out. New boots, leggings, dress, jacket… Mascara, lip stick and all that.. He walked into the examine room and looked at me… and he says “Well, good for you.” I still don’t know how to take that comment.
He explained the GTT results and how my sugar levels were ok, but my body was making a ton of insulin to get there. Made reference to my weight loss, but that I was still a long way from where I needed to be and to keep working on that. He then asked if I had any problems with the medications. Plural. I thought he just said it by mistake. He asked about the cholesterol meds, if I had had any side effects. Then he asked if I had any problems with the estrogen.
Wait, what? I took a second to process that question.
“I wouldn’t know, you refused to give it to me”, I replied.
His response was basically, Oh right. He basically said as long as my cholesterol looks better, we’d start the estrogen. So now I’m just waiting on those results. Hopefully back Monday.
I’ll have to wrap this up later, as this took longer than I thought it would.