A nurse looked at the couple: a man of medium height with a large belly and a tall, thin woman. The nurse handed the woman a small paper cup and asked for a urine sample.
“Well, that’s not really going to work because my husband is the one who’s pregnant,” the woman said. Then Karl Surkan, a transgender man who teaches gender studies at MIT, took the cup.
“Well, then I guess I need a urine sample from you,” Surkan remembered the nurse saying to him.
Other nurses and doctors might make the same mistake. Transgender men are pretty unusual in OB offices and maternity wards. The nurse in this case wasn’t hostile, Surkan said, just “not knowledgeable about the existence of masculine-looking people who are pregnant.”
Still, Surkan would give the nurse a low score on an online provider rating system he co-founded late last year — TransRecord.com. Transgender and genderfluid patients log in, name a provider, and respond to eight questions that identify a doctor, nurse or counselor as transgender friendly — or not.
“This is a population that is heavily medicalized,” Surkan said. From the pre-transition period, through a gender change, to potentially decades of hormone therapy, these patients will be frequent users of health care. Continue reading