It was two years ago to the day that I had an appointment with a new doctor for a routine physical. The doctor was randomly assigned by my insurance company in Southern California.
The routine physical was just that, routine. Typical questions were asked and notes were taken by the doctor. I left her office, proceeded to the lab for blood work, and was on my way.
Several days later I received a phone call from the doctor's office informing me that the doctor would like me to come in to review abnormal results from my physical. I was naturally concerned and immediately made an appointment for the next week.
When the doctor came into the room, she informed me that I was B-12 deficient and that she recommended monthly shots and daily supplements. Phew, I could handle that! But it was not until later, after being given a copy of the doctor's diagnoses, that I was shocked. My doctor had diagnosed my sexuality as a chronic condition, or disease. There it was. Right on my medical record. In the same section as Crohn's disease: “Homosexual Behavior Code 302.0.”
I couldn’t believe this was happening. In Southern California. In 2013.
As a gay man, I have no issue with my sexuality being referenced by my doctor in my social history. But seeing it listed on my medical record as a chronic condition or disease is wrong.
Some time passed as I attempted to wrap my head around this hurtful, harmful entry that stated my sexuality was a disease. I then made an appointment with the doctor for the sole purpose of discussing this “diagnosis.” She defended her actions, and even after my pleas to have my medical record corrected, the diagnosis remained there — this time it was labeled a chronic problem. Because of this, I have sued the doctor and the medical center.
All of this is happening at a time of attempts to write discrimination against gay people into law in my home state of Indiana as well as Arkansas and several other states. Refusing to cater or provide flowers for a wedding is bad enough, but when it goes beyond that, it becomes downright dangerous. Can a doctor lean on a religious freedom law and refuse health care to a gay patient? Can a doctor impose her religious views on a patient and diagnose homosexuality as a disease? For as damaging as this was to me, I continue to think about what this means for a teenager who is only starting to come to terms with the idea he or she might be gay. Or worse, that it would out the youth to his or her parents.
Studies have shown that the suicide attempt rate is higher among LGBT teens than their straight peers. A doctor telling a gay patient of any age that his or her sexuality is a disease? The results could be tragic.
MATTHEW MOORE is a comedian and actor based in Los Angeles.