Going to the doctor can be a pretty interesting time when you don’t have a regular GP who you like and who understands you, but the search for a ‘good’ doctor is even more difficult when you’re queer. That’s why, when I found a doctor who was queer, it changed my entire life.
For most of my adult life, I haven’t had a regular GP. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that. There are many reasons as to why someone just doesn’t stick with one doctor, including moving houses all the time and just not feeling totally understood during check-ups.
Personally, I just never found a doctor that I liked. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but maybe it was because most of the time when I went for a check-up, there was this strange barrier of communication between me and them. It was almost like they didn’t quite understand me, or trust me at that.
Being queer in a straight doctor’s office always feels like just another tick in a box on a long list of attributes about you. It never feels like an important part of your health or your lifestyle, and it’s definitely never spoken about candidly.
The experiences and the language associated with being queer is completely lost on a doctor who has not lived them for themselves. To be honest, I didn’t even know that this understanding was lacking from my doctors until I found my GP, who identifies as queer.
Immediately, things like sexual health, my relationship with my boyfriend and sexual experiences in the past became a top priority. I was reminded to get tested frequently (something that only sexual health clinics ever told me), and I was told that if I was uncomfortable going to sexual health clinics, that I could do STD check-ups right there at my local doctor’s office.
I personally never knew that, and was always uncomfortable with the whole process, but part of that discomfort came from a lack of understanding. My doctor made me feel heard, listened to and cared for.
Suddenly I had information that came from knowledge. This was a doctor who was not only queer herself, but spoke about her queer patients in the past, which felt incredibly reassuring.
Visits to the doctor became so much easier because she had an innate understanding of me and my lifestyle, it wasn’t something that was foreign to her that I had to unravel and explain.
I’ve had my fair share of very bad doctors, who rush you, fail to listen to you and just generally leave you feeling as educated about your health as when you walked in.
Theydies and gentlethems, I’m telling you, I know it’s hard, but if you can find a queer doctor or someone who is queer-friendly, it will drastically change your life.
You’ll be listened to in a way that comes from care instead of curiosity, and that is the most relieving feeling in the world.
If you’d like, there are lists of gay-friendly GPs online, but they don’t always include everyone, so ask your local doctor if they have any queer-friendly GPs for you.