We Need Doctors Who Are Trained To See Beyond The Checklist

By Emily Lowinger June 28, 2019

I interviewed Mary Rice on why #WeNeedAButton. Her story in some ways felt very much similar to many experiences I had as an 18-year old. Medical providers need to understand that it is dangerous for our wellbeing when they automatically assume everyone is straight.

 

Mary’s Story

“There was this incident when I was 18 and I strongly suspected I had a stress fracture in my foot. I went to a primary care doctor who took my family’s insurance plan.

 

They started down this litany of questions that they ask, like height, weight, blood pressure…

 

Are you on birth control?

 

No.

 

Are you sexually active?

 

Yes.

 

I’d been dating a woman for about two months, keeping it very under wraps, I just needed it to be my thing, while I just explored this part of myself. My parents didn’t know. But because I said I was sexually active, they assumed I was sleeping with men.

 

The doctor said, ‘We’re going to want to x-ray your foot, but I’m really concerned, because you may be pregnant.’ I told them I was definitely not pregnant. And the response was: ‘Well, if you’re sexually active and not on birth control, how can you prove that you’re not?’

 

I was dating a woman but wasn’t out to my family and wasn’t ready to be out to them yet – and as silly as it sounds in retrospect, I was really worried that somehow it would show up on the insurance summary and I knew that this wasn’t how I wanted them to find out – and this doctor was just getting more and more curt and patronizing with me the more I asserted there was no way I was possibly pregnant.

 

It was the feeling of hostility from the doctor and the panicky feeling of ‘I want to come out to my parents but not yet and not like this, I don’t want this to be how it happens’ that led me to feel confused and panicky enough to walk out of my appointment.”

 

Ironically, when Mary went to another doctor for her foot problem, they said she didn’t even need an x-ray.