High Anxiety

trans medYIKES. What is going on with our healthcare system?!?! I know many of you ask this on a daily basis. Our physicians are being squeezed so tight that the level of care is visibly and dramatically taking a downward plunge.

Normally I am not one to get on a soap box about anything. But, mess with my kids, and get out of my way.

It took us months to find a pediatric endocrinologist that would treat Hunter. There is one in our geographic area that has the right credentials and regularly sees transgender children. However, she does not accept Hunter’s insurance. FAIL. So, we kept looking. Finally, we found a smart, compassionate, caring endocrinologist that was willing to treat him. She didn’t have the transgender thing under her belt but had access to leading authorities and said she was willing to do what she needed to do to make things happen. SUCCESS.

Our first appointment went really well. Thank g-d. She spent plenty of time with us. She interviewed, examined, shared and committed. All was good that day. I filled out releases so she could speak to our pediatrician, therapist, school social worker and anyone else that was critical to the success of this transition.

Now it’s time for our second appointment. I pull Hunter out of school early. We get to the doctor’s office, we sign in and we wait. And we wait. And we wait. Finally, 45 minutes later we are called in. It is an hour plus from the time we walked in the door until we finally see our doctor. Now, we are late for another appointment so we rush through this appointment after waiting for more than 60 minutes.

Good news, though. She approves the necessary next steps and promises to secure the appropriate documentation from Hunter’s therapist and to connect with the insurance company. We race out of there on a high.

Well, that was exactly one month ago today. We are no further along.

I have now called the endocrinologist’s office multiple times. By the way, nothing has been submitted to the insurance company yet (one month after the appointment). I have spoken to a nurse 4 out of the 5 calls and relayed my concerns. This morning I emphasized the fact that the delay is causing significant depression in my son.

So, we wait. I am disappointed and frustrated and concerned for my son. He deserves better than this. He deserves to get the appropriate care in a timely fashion to put him on the path to emotional and physical wellness.

This is one angry mama bear. Don’t get in my way.

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Victory

victoryAside from learning about things that I never dreamed I would be researching, I am learning a lot about the “loophole.” Nearly a year ago Hunter asked that we start calling him “Hunter,” rather than “Olivia.” While I choked on the name (I could hear it in my head) as it moved from tongue to my lips, we were committed to doing what was necessary for our son.

What I didn’t really think about was what would come next. When my friend (in a similar situation but about 6 months ahead of us on most fronts) announced that she went to court with her son and now he was legally “Jack,” I found my self in the midst of conflicting emotions. These kids are so young; a legal name change just felt so FINAL. And yet, somehow I was envious of how she took charge and did what she needed to do as a parent of a child who was transitioning from female to male.

We spent nearly an entire school year getting used to the new name. Little by little we expanded our vocabulary until we were using only male pronouns in lieu of the female ones that we had grown accustomed to. Summer came and with it greater acceptance and more knowledge. It was time to apply for a legal name change. It was important that Hunter begin the new school year “officially” as Hunter. We didn’t want any mistakes. It would’ve been devastating for him to sit in a class on the first day and have a teacher take attendance and look for or call out “Olivia.”

So, I filled out the paperwork and waited. Hunter was at camp and I wanted him to sign the documents. Not only did I want him to be a part of the process but I wanted him to tell me that he was 100% sure about the name. Admittedly, there was a tiny part of me that was hanging on to the familiar; I was not quite ready and it was easy to find a reason to wait.

You would have no idea how complicated this entire process is. Legal name change at the state level. Birth certificate legal name change at the state level in which one was born. Gender marker changed on birth certificate. WHOA. Not so fast…this too, is at the state level and every state has it’s own law about changing the gender marker. I went into a tail spin. What good was the name change if Hunter’s birth certificate still indicated that he was female??? According to the state of Florida (where he was born), in order to legally change the gender marker, one needs to submit an affidavit from the physician stating that gender reassignment surgery has occurred. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Many transgender individuals never have surgery for various reasons. This was crazy and unacceptable.

I reached out to a number of people and organizations (including legal teams) within my network to see if there was a way around this. Hunter was about to start driver’s ed – I had been told that once you get a permit or license it is nearly impossible to change the gender marker on the document.

Facebook at its finest … another mom, who just went through the exact same scenario, was a wealth of information.

LOOPHOLE.

The federal government, not too long ago, changed its policies regarding passports and gender markers. Too good to be true. All we needed was a letter from the doctor stating that Hunter was in the process of transitioning along with the legal name change document from the court. In addition, while the social security administration doesn’t put a gender on the card, they track it for employment purposes. So, the passport and social security card (with new name) become the legal documents in place of the birth certificate.

VICTORY… until the next hurdle.

Out of the blue…

shockingSo, I went to the dentist recently and while catching up with the dental assistant whom I hadn’t seen in quite sometime, I was thrown for a loop. She asked me about my “two girls” and I was momentarily paralyzed.

What do you do? I had a split second to decide if I would just nod or go into a short version of the long story about my second child, who definitely is not a girl. Talk about being caught off guard. WOW.

Since Hunter is not a patient in this dental office anymore, the staff is not aware of what has been going on with him. Our dentist knows the whole story and is completely accepting and supportive and even told me that he is “impressed” with us as parents and how we’ve handled everything (with our transgender son).

Certainly we have no issue sharing our journey and Hunter is very open about his transition from female to male. But, honestly, this is not really the kind of news you share when having small talk before a dental procedure. I felt the wind being knocked out of my sails.

While we are open about our son being transgender, sharing this “out of the blue” ranks up there with, “by the way, we’re getting a divorce,” or “I was just diagnosed with fill in the blank,” — by my standards, these are topics where you choose a time and place to have an honest, open, bare your soul conversation.

When faced with some “news” about a friend or family member (sometimes known as gossip) you have to make a quick decision about how to respond to the messenger; you can nod, mutter an “ah ha,” cough to hide your shock, quickly change the subject or just act as if you didn’t hear what they said. Understandably, this can be an incredibly uncomfortable space to be in…I certainly don’t want to be the one to blurt out shocking news and then not have the time to discuss, empathize or explain.

Given that I was about to get numbed up for a procedure, I did some quick thinking on my feet. Surely, this was a case where a simple nod would suffice. However, I will make sure to ask the doctor to update our family records and to inform his staff. Hopefully, this will eliminate or at least minimize future awkward, pick your jaw up from the floor, I want to disappear moments.