By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com May 09 2012 1:37 PM ET
For the second time in recent weeks, a transgender man in Iowa has has alleged that the states's medical profession either discriminates or doesn't know how to deal with transgender patients. Shay O'Reilly recently filed a complaint with state officials after being denied medical care allegedly because he is transgender. O'Reilly, a former University of Iowa student, told Adam B. Sullivan of Iowa City Patch that he called the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in April to make an appointment with an endocrynologist (who are often the primary care physicians for trans people undergoing hormone therapy).
Several staffers said that he could not be seen at the hospital, and more promised return calls that never came. Eventually O'Reilly contacted the director of the endocrinology departmentn who directed him to another physician that would work with him.
Last month, reports came out about the tribulations of another transgender man in Iowa City. Zeke Swim went through a seven-month ordeal that included over a dozen ER visits, major surgery, and 78 vials of blood drawn, according to the Daily Iowan. After realizing that medical professionals weren't prepared or trained to deal with the health needs of trans patients, Swim became a leading figure with Trans Collaborations, a University of Iowa student group advocating for better treatment of transgender people — especially in terms of medical care. The group held it's first discussion with physicians and administrators in November and on May 19 and 20, the group is hosting the first Eastern Iowa Transgender Medical Symposium.
For O'Reilly, he hopes that cases like his help move medical establishments to set up care criteria and educate their staff about trans patients so that, in the future, trans people won't come up against barriers to basic health care.