I’ve been stewing on this for awhile now trying to figure out if it’s something I should keep buried or dig up and expose. The guilty party has been “punished” to some degree (though I’m not entirely clear to what degree) but there are aspects to his abuse that I fear have gone unreported.
A therapist I had been seeing leading up to GRS was an evil, evil man. I don’t use that lightly – it was uncovered after I had ceased seeing him that he had raped several of his patients. I couldn’t bare to keep up with any kind of detailed account of his “trial.” I use the word without being sure there even was an actual criminal proceeding. I know that he was stripped of his medical license and forced to leave the country (he was originally from Central or South America) but I don’t know if he ever spent a day in jail.
I knew him to be evil not because he raped me – I didn’t fit his pattern of victims – but because of a number of other unethical and hurtful things he did and said to me. Keep in mind that I had basically no real choice in seeing this man. A requirement for surgery at the time (and I presume it still is) is that you have a number of letters from a battery of psychiatrists, psychologists and other doctors verifying that you are indeed “really” transgender. The concept itself is grosteque but the real-world implications of this requirement mean that you have to pretty much do whatever your doctors tell you to do unless you’re willing and/or able to find a new doctor and start the process all over again. By the time I had started seeing him the ball was already in motion for surgery. Not going along with him meant delaying something that had already taken 10+ years to get underway.
This man would consistently and persistently misgender me. He would on occasion use my dead name, one that he had no use to know and yet demanded to know all the same. He would even show so little interest in me that he on occasion would drift off to sleep in our meetings. Truthfully, those were the best meetings because those meetings didn’t involve invasive questions regarding my genitalia or sex life. The dude was obvious and thorough trash but again – what could I do? Defer a $15k surgery for several more years while I struggled to find a psychiatrist that would even agree to write the requested letters in principal? I had settled on this asshole because I couldn’t find any other.
I swallowed my pride, numbed myself, and did as best I could to just get through it. Those closest to me knew that he was an asshole but I couldn’t bring myself to discuss the full range of his fuckery. It was debasing and I was incredibly embarrassed by it… or rather, that I just let it happen. Some folks along the way have developed this notion that I’m a hardass and somehow tough. I’m not. It’s a carefully cultivated image that serves as a feeble protection at best. Truth is, I’m a fucking marshmallow and this shit hurt.
Had it ended there I wouldn’t be writing this now. That he’s been stripped of his medical license is as adequate a punishment as I can expect for how he treated me (though whether or no justice has been found for his other victims isn’t something I can comment on.) But there’s one more thing he did that’s been gnawing at me for years and I don’t know what to do about it.
He had some teaching capacity at a local university and at one point he informed me that a small class he was teaching was going to interview me. It wasn’t presented as a choice – the implication was clear that if I didn’t consent to this interview I would not get a letter from him signing off on surgery.
I met with his class in his office. It was a small group of maybe 5-6 people. Chairs were arranged around a single chair in a semi circle where I was to sit. Over the course of the next hour or so they would take turns asking me questions about my past and upbringing. Some of these questions were the kind you’d expect from your typical curious cis gawker(not inherantly offensive outside of their gross banality) but others were incredibly personal and invasive. They would try to get me to admit to childhood sexual abuse or that I had participated in sex work; they asked detailed questions about my first sexual experiences and how often I masturbated as a young child; they questioned the validity of my identity in numerous ways attempting to stumble upon some “gotcha” I hadn’t considered. It was an embarrassing and disgusting thing to participate in. I kept a smile on my face as best I could but I was so upset by this encounter and as soon as I was a safe distance from his office I had a proper meltdown.
In the end (not long after that encounter) he did write me the letter I needed. It was every bit as grotesque one would expect : he was continually referring to me by my dead name (which by this point hadn’t been legal for 10+ years) and the incorrect pronouns. The content itself seemed almost manufactured, as if he hadn’t taken any notes of value over our entire time together. At any rate, it was done and I was done with him. I never saw the man again.
Though I didn’t pay close attention to his story I am fairly certain it centred solely on his sexual misconduct. The evils he did to me are minuscule by comparison and yet there’s more to it. In coercively insisting that I be interviewed by his students he in some way implicated his university in this mess and it’s that part that I’ve struggled with. That this man (or any man) could ever think to bring a class of students in to interrogate a patient for academic purposes… how did this ever pass ethical muster within the school? Would any other kind of patient be forced to dance like this? Shouldn’t the antiquated idea that I need doctors to “prove” that I am who I prohibit any such behaviour by default? There’s no way to decouple coercion from such a situation.
I don’t know what to do. Part of me thinks that I need to reach out to the school and let them know what happened to me and implore them to provide safeguards such that this doesn’t happen again. Another part thinks it’s futile – that trans folks defacto have less credibility than cis folks and that any concern I bring to them will be dismissed or denied. Even if they acknowledge the event actually occurred I have 18 years of personal experience showing that unethical treatment towards trans people is perfectly acceptable medical practice. Another concern is that I don’t know if I’m opening myself up to legal issues in bringing this to light. I’ve been vague with details and I didn’t name the doctor but it’s easy enough to find out who he was (and what school he represented.)
If this post ever sees the light of day I fear it’s something I can’t ever take back. I’ve edited and tweaked again and again it but setting it loose is terrifying. Reading it I can’t help but think of how cowardly I was and still remain. I’m not an activist. I just want to get by in peace but coming back to this repeatedly in my head isn’t making that easy. I’m also terrified of a public pile-on : a horrible mix of folks demanding I take some kind of action, those that find no particular issue with his conduct, and those those that think I’m exaggerating or lying outright. Hopefully I’m wrong there but seeing how some of my trans siblings are treated when online attention is turned their way doesn’t fill me with confidence.