LUCY SHARES HER EXPERIENCE OF THE DIFFICULTY IN FINDING A GYNAECOLOGIST WHO IS SKILLED IN THE TREATMENT OF WOMEN WHO HAVE TRANSITIONED.
A ten-year process, filled with financial, physical and psychological stresses, eventually led to gender confirmation surgery for Lucy.
“It was a ground-breaking surgery at the time, with Dr. Ting. I had peritoneal vaginoplasty, which is a technique not yet available in Australia,” explains Lucy.
“Before my surgery, I was thinking about my health care needs and felt that a gynaecologist would be really important in that process.”
What Lucy did not expect was difficulty in finding a gynaecologist who was skilled in caring for her needs after the operation.
“The reality was that my GP was finding it difficult to find me a gynaecologist. I couldn’t get a referral. I’m surprised at how difficult it actually turned out to be. I ended up ringing multiple gynaecologists, who all turned me down.
It was a bit hurtful. But I think it just comes down to a lack of understanding.”
Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison, a South Australian gynaecologist, says that transgender people must be treated without judgement and discrimination.
Behnia-Willison explains, “Discrimination often happens because of lack of knowledge and ignorance.
Treating transgender patients is a new area in gynaecology. The number of transgender patients are increasing, hence we need to upskill ourselves to be able to provide the best care for them.”
As Lucy discovered, there is a general misconception that women who have transitioned do not require gynaecological care. This is simply not true.
“I’m pleased to say that, post-surgery, I’ve been able to find a gynaecologist and that’s been really critical in my aftercare, and treating my surgical site, make sure I’m healing correctly, the scar tissue, and the basic function of my vaginal health,” says Lucy.
On caring for transgender patients, Behnia-Willison says, “It is important that the patient presents six weeks post-surgery in terms of ensuring that there is no urinary dysfunction and preparing them for sexual function down the track.”
Today, Lucy is feeling hopeful, but she knows that there is much room for improvement “I’ve seen so much progress in my community, but I think the real gains will be made through the legislation and the healthcare providers.”
Behnia-Willison says, “This progression in gynaecology will empower transgender women to seek the care they deserve, like any other woman.”