Last week was by far the craziest week I’ve had in a while. Between spilling soda all down the front of my pants on Monday morning, a flying cockroach the size of a golf ball charging directly at me as I got off the elevator on Thursday, and a restaurant-wide power outage at Chuy’s during Friday lunch, the entire week seemed like a series of unfortunate coincidences.
Perhaps the most upsetting thing that happened to me last week happened at the doctor’s office, or more precisely, PrimaCare.
I wasn’t feeling very well and after a scheduling conflict with my Primary Care doctor, I ended up at PrimaCare. The staff was very nice, very courteous. The wait time was less than 20 minutes, but the provider made for an interesting experience.
After being directed to my room, I opened my GRE practice book and waited for the doctor. A few minutes later he walked in and asked me how I was feeling. Among some of the basic questions he asked, “Are you sexually active?” I said I was and he asked if I used condoms and I said, “No, I’m sexually active with a woman.”
He said, “Ohh… I see…” That’s when I knew my very long day was about to turn from bad to worse.
After inquiring whether my partner and I use toys, I thought my short, but stern, response steered him away from any unnecessary personal questions.
I was wrong.
He looked in my throat and nose, and as he checked my ears he ominously said, “Can I ask you a personal question?” Without waiting for a response he started with the unmistakable qualifiers that many people think are appropriate to use when asking someone about their sexual orientation.
“You’re a beautiful, attractive and obviously smart [referencing the GRE book] girl – what made you want to switch teams?”
Stunned, shocked, and incredibly offended I mumbled the words, “I’m sorry… what?” He continued, ironically unaware, with a slur of offensive remarks.
“You could easily have a boyfriend, what made you switch? Did you have a bad experience? Or have you just always felt that way?”
Again, sitting in complete shock, I couldn’t even mutter a defensive response. I felt frozen. I suddenly forgot how to stand up for myself. All I could do was answer with, “No, I didn’t have a bad experience.” Apparently my close to tears facial expression didn’t give away my discomfort [or disappointment in humanity and the medical profession] because he ended the conversation with:
“You know of all the people I ask it’s about half and half. Half of people have had a bad experience and the other half just think they’re born that way.”
I left with a referral to a specialist and a big dose of a sad reality.
As I walked to my car, silent tears streaming down my face, I couldn’t help but feel that my quality of care was compromised because of my sexual orientation.
Driving home, reflecting on my trip to PrimaCare, I was reminded of something that many LGBT people already know: respect and the right to privacy and equal treatment, while in legal statute may be attainable, will take years to gain in the hearts and minds of an ignorant, yet powerful minority.