Emergency Room Anyone?

When the unexpected happens, fear creeps up as to what the responses of others will be because I have a transgender child.  Living in a small town sometimes makes things difficult because in reality, close minded people seem to lurk in small towns.  Luckily for us (Peyton and myself), we live in a small town where people are not as close minded as in other areas.

If you didn’t know, monkey bars in school are a dangerous piece of equipment.  Well not typically, but Peyton turned them out to be so.  He injured himself and required an emergency room visit, surgery included.  Because he was born female and his female name is in insurance card, that is the name used when at the hospital.  Through doctor and dentist visits I have learned that the easiest way to deal with this is to be as transparent as possible with medical personnel, and to nip the use of the female name and pronoun in the butt as quickly as possible.  As soon as the opportunity safely arises, I inform personnel that Peyton is a F/M transgender child.  Some people are initially taken aback and are unsure as to how to take in that little bit of information but are respectful of using the correct name and pronoun.  Other individuals just say “okay” and move on as if nothing changed (and use the male name and pronoun).

We ended up in two emergency rooms that day/night.  The injury that Peyton had required a visit to a Children’s Hospital for the proper care.  So we were transported via ambulance.  In all I believe we must have interacted with about 50 medical staff members and hospital staff.  Out of all of those only 2 appeared to be bothered by the fact that Peyton is a transgender child.  Even the ambulance personnel treated Peyton as a normal child.  They joked around with him and kept him as comfortable as possible. Not once did they look at him in the slightest negative way.  And even when they dropped us into the emergency room at Children’s Hospital, they lingered and were reluctant to leave.  And this appeared to be because they wanted to make sure that Peyton was okay.

As I met more and more personnel, I had to ensure that they knew that Peyton has a female body.  Peyton required surgery and his body would be exposed to nurses and doctors and I did not want any confusion as to who was my child.  It is very tricky to be in this type of situation.  The first few times (maybe 3 or 4) that I had to talk about Peyton’s female body, I was a little out of my comfort zone.  I felt it had to be done and I wanted it in his file. The fact that Peyton has fetal alcohol syndrome and some disabilities makes everything more complicated. The looks I received for that were negative until I explained that Peyton is my adopted child.  This means that personnel were far more judgmental about the possibility that I was an alcoholic parent than they were about Peyton being a transgender child (which in this instance was good).  Eventually it became easier to discuss Peyton’s body with nurses and doctors.

The two nurses that were out of their comfort zone with Peyton’s female body acted in a very professional manner. I think it helped a great deal that I was with Peyton every minute of the 6 days that he had to be in the hospital. This meant that all bathroom visits were assisted by me. In the very beginning one of the doctors asked to check Peyton’s vaginal area but he refused to show it and here again they said it was fine and did not push.

At the end of our hospital stay one of the doctors came and visited us and shared that the Children’s medical complex where we stayed had a special clinic for transgender children.  He explained that the clinic specializes in support for parents and children to help with the transitioning process. I was extremely thankful to have received such information.

To me this experience seemed a little bit out of the ordinary. I know that not everyone receives this type of care from medical staff. I also think that children are treated differently than adults in a similar situation.  Children are treated in a more gentle manner.  But as a parent, I think that those around me respond to how I react to situations. Medical personnel understood that Peyton is a boy because I repeatedly reinforced the pronouns and the use of his name. Though I was hesitant to talk about it at first, they also understood that I fully support my child.  All of this helped them know that the only way to address Peyton was as the male that he is.  I think things would have been a bit different had there been doubt in my stance with Peyton being a boy.  Approaching this situation with conviction led to an easier process for Peyton.

As for Peyton, he was just a boy in the hospital getting his boo-boo fixed.


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