I would like to share a few things about my experience of the intersection of disability and gender diversity.
I am a woman in my 60s who only recently came to fully understand that the gender assigned me at birth was in error.
Having embarked on the joys and challenges of ‘men-opause’ and second puberty, I found that my running performance was significantly impaired.
I expected the standard 10% reduction in speed and stamina due to the loss of testosterone’s advantage, but I did not expect the sense of ‘it’s too hard’.
Six months into transition, I developed chest pain, and long story short, I had heart disease thanks to Dad’s genes – now I knew why running felt hard.
I had good medical care and underwent bypass surgery.
Six weeks after surgery, I had chest pain again because of complications, so I received an emergency stent.
I was pleased to be not dead – and not pleased to have had substantial heart muscle damage and persisting limiting angina.
I had angina brushing my teeth.
I needed a powerchair most of the time.
I could walk 20 metres with a walker at a snail’s pace and with angina.
Oh, and no sex involving exertion or excitement for this girl.
So here I was, new to the life of disability.
Hospital care was just so exhausting.
I had to endure some transphobia and a bucketful of ignorance.
I was in an intensive care unit, needing to explain gender diversity to staff, at least enough for me to survive.
I was referred to as ‘it’ by a senior doctor as he explained my care to a large group of staff on daily rounds; ignorance rather than malice is how I experienced his emotional tone.
A friend asked why it mattered if the doctor used ‘it’ as a pronoun so long as they did their job properly.
My response was that a competent healthcare worker would not add to my stress burden while I was in intensive care.
Being one of the ‘others’ (LGBTIQA+) can make healthcare stressful, and we may try to cope by choosing supportive medical care.
For many of us with disabilities and complex or life-threatening health issues, we do not have a choice.
Being othered and disabled has meant a good deal of additional psychological and emotional suffering for me, and from discussions with the community, I am most definitely not alone.
If you need support or someone to talk to, please see our list of community services and resources.