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Identity problems in the doctor’s office

Culture

I know a guy from the southernmost part of Texas who is white, and when he applied to college he did so as a “minority” because his town and high school were mostly Hispanic. Identity, in the 21st century, is a many-headed Hydra that keeps sprouting heads as time goes by, creating more problems than our ability to decapitate them with the proliferating laws.

The patient intake form I filled out at the doctors’ office last week was an attempt to keep up with the sprouting. It had three boxes, rather than the traditional two, for the “gender” question: (1) M, (2) F, (3) TG. There are many parts of a patient intake form that are thought-provoking. For instance, I am never sure if my sleeplessness qualifies as “severe” or “moderate.” I never feel comfortable choosing between “sometimes” and “rarely” in the question about feelings of anxiety.

But “gender” always is the easy question. If there is one section of a daunting form that is a no-brainer, it is always the top part where they asked for name, address, birth date, and gender. You could always rely on racing right through that part. Now, gender has become as problematic as degrees of severity of insomnia and anxiety.

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It is still all well and good now, of course, with only the three selections: M, F, and TG. These, after all, are empirically observable—that is, you are either a male or a female or a transgendered person. A cursory survey of superficial body parts suffices to establish which column to fit you into.

But what about the person who is momentarily in a masculine body but who feels feminine? We have heard of a few such cases in America. What do you have on your form for him/her, Doc? No fourth box, you say? And why not? Have you not heard of the “Q” in LGBTQ? Will you discriminate against the “Questioning” person who has not yet decided on his or her gender affiliation?

And while we’re on the subject, I do hope you have plans to put in a third bathroom for your patients, or at least are working on a policy regarding how to accommodate the diabetic thumbing through Sports Illustrated in your waiting room who looks like a woman but feels like a man.

As for me, I’ll stick with Jesus’ uncomplicated bifurcation of reality: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” In rejecting the authoritative Word of God, who would have known we would end up with a nightmare in our intake forms as well?

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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