Why I will go out of town for top surgery

7 01 2011

Trigger warning: fatphobic and classist incident.

As it stands, I’m uncertain about when and even whether I will ever get top surgery. But if I ever do, you can bet it won’t be with the the local surgeon. Many trans people like him and are happy with their experience with him. That’s great for them. But I went for a consultation with him and was very dissatisfied with how I was treated. In the end, I paid $50 to be told, in a very disrespectful and dehumanising way, that I was disgustingly fat. The look on his face was one of pure contempt as he spat out: “Mais Monsieur, vous êtes ben trop gros, c’est ridicule!” (Exact translation: “But Sir, you are way too fat, it’s ridiculous.”) I’m used to Dr’s telling me that my weight is a problem. The issue of the too widely held assumption that all ills are caused by fat notwithstanding, at least most of them still talk to me like I’m a human being.

Interestingly, the minute the Dr. found out that I’m actually a PhD student and a college teacher, he got that toothpaste commercial glint in his teeth and started being uber friendly with me. Suddenly, he could smell money (HA! False assumption as I’m struggling to make it on a student fellowship that is designed for grad students who are not single parents and, even when I’m employed full-time, nearly $500 of my monthly income goes toward repaying a massive student loan, leaving me to struggle constantly to stay afloat.) and deemed that it was worth his while to be friendly to me.

At least that is my impression. I could be wrong, of course, but I definitely noticed a shift in the way he looked at me and spoke to me after he found this out. And I’m not one to usually assume that people treat me different because of the way I’m dressed. For the most part, I don’t see a difference. I tend to not dress like an academic. I like wearing worn jeans, work boots, plaid or other workshirts and I keep my beard kind of scruffy. But because I’m white, able-bodied, male and speak like someone with a university education, I usually get taken seriously and treated with respect no matter how I’m dressed. So I’m fairly sure I wasn’t imagining things.

All this was on top of the lack of competence of the person at the reception desk. Even though they deal with trans people all the time, they just could not wrap their heads around the fact that my ID still said Nancy and F. I explained that I was female to male. In a regular clinic that didn’t have gender reassignment as one of its mandates, I could understand why this would need clarification. But not here. Here, I would think that saying that I’m female to male, that my name is Jacky but that my ID still says Nancy and has an F would speak for itself. So…great job on educating your staff *holds up sarcasm sign.*

Overall, I did not feel respected. This is in such sharp contrast to the treatment I got at the hospital where I got my hysterectomy, which is ironic since that hospital doesn’t specialise in dealing with trans folk. Again, lots of trans folk around here like him and have had good experiences. I’m glad for them but I’m sure there are other voices out there that are not being heard. But I’m a paying customer and I have a right to express my dissatisfaction with the service I received.

If I decide to get top surgery, I will be taking my money elsewhere.  I don’t care that the government would actually cover my surgery if I went to him. I’d rather pay and be respected.



8 responses

7 01 2011

good on your for speaking up!

7 01 2011
Jacky V.

Thanks! Although I’m kind of ashamed that I was too shocked to actually react on the premises. If I could go back in time, I’d just walk out of that office as soon as he degraded me on account of my weight, and not even paid them. But…it’s easy to say until one is in the situation…and with some internalised fat phobia at the time maybe, even harder to realise that it was inappropriate…

8 01 2011

what a shitty situation to be in, and what a dick doctor. i think most people understand how difficult it is to defend yourself in these kinds of circumstances, especially when you’re not expecting it and haven’t got a strategy in place for dealing with it.

8 01 2011
Jacky V.

Yeah, thanks Nix. It’s true, I didn’t have a strategy for dealing with fat phobia. I haven’t dealt with any overt fat phobia in so long. With trans stuff, I’m pretty much used to dealing with reactions about that and having to explain myself, and yeah, I have prepared comebacks for possible insults. But the fat thing…yeesh. And the classism thing didn’t really occur to me until after the situation. In the moment, it was just a relief to not be treated like shit for a minute (and consider, I was topless throughout most of this ordeal while he was fully dressed in a business suit). Talking about my doctoral project was a time-out from the shame.

10 01 2011

Two of my favourite people had their surgeries with Dr. Hugh McLean in Mississauga. All of the people there are FANTASTIC! I’ve been the primary care giver in two f to m transitions and this clinic is by far the most respectful health care facility I have EVER visited. They are excited to be part of the transition process. This is what my bestie had to say about the experience http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEihNMF1_4U

10 01 2011
Jacky V.

Thanks for the info Natasha! McLean is definitely on my radar since Mississauga is an easy drive from Montreal and I have lots of friends in the Toronto area. I’ve heard a lot of positive things. Thanks for the link, I will make sure to check it out!

15 07 2011

Someone very close to me had surgery with him. He sent him photos and Brassard replied that he would have to lose 50 pounds- TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE SURGERY! or he wouldn’t have “optimum” results. He had the surgery anyways and found him to be incredibly polite in person and the results are great. Thanks for speaking up abut this!

15 07 2011

Sorry I re-read the comments after and wanted to add something re:McLean.
I had my surgery with him and found him to be rude and abrupt and incredibly fat-phobic. He expressed that I should lose weight before my surgery and when he had to touch me for anything it was akward and obvious that he would rather be doing anything other than touching a fat person. The staff was incredibly disrespectful and after when I needed a letter confirming my surgery they charged me $40 for it.

Though the surgery was ok (I was having a reduction to get the most male-looking chest possible and instead ended up with the most cute, perky, 14 yr old girl boobs ever, and he only took me down to a B) his bedside manner was grotesque. I was sent home 45 mins after my surgery with little to no directions and some tylenol 3 which left me in what felt like insurmountable pain (vs the demerol my friend got). When I went back two days later he literally yelled at me because I hadn’t had a shower since surgery. Everyone in the room was shocked (me and two friends) especially since I was under the impression I wasn’t allowed to get wet. I was never told to ice the incisions or put cream on them after (both of which Brassard does)

I would NEVER go back to him under any circumstance. It was probably the worst experience ever. And after seeing how amazing the treatment is in the hospice at Brassards I am insanely jealous of anyone who gets to go there. I would happily put up with the tiny amount of time that I would have to actually deal with Brassard in exchange for the care and respect that people get in the hospice.

That’s my more than two sense 🙂

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