We Are All Works in Progress

Also in the G101 class we read an article by Leslie Feinberg called We Are All Works in Progress. She discusses how each person should have the right to choose between “pink or blue tinted gender categories; as well as all the other hues of the palette.” The beginning of the essay provides her own personal examples of being a trans person. She explains how she was dying of endocarditis in 1995 to 1996. One night her and her partner went to the emergency room. She had a fever of 104 degrees and rising and her blood pressure was also rising at an abnormal rate. They immediately began to try to reduce the fever until the physically examined her. Although biologically Feinberg was a female she never identified as a female or as an intermediate sex. She explains, “I simply do not fit into the prevalent Western concepts of what a woman or man ‘should’ look like.” When the doctor physically examined her and realized she was anatomically female he gave her a “mean-spirited smirk” and then went to one of the female nurse and began massaging her neck and shoulder while talking about sex, all the while keeping his eyes focused on Leslie to demonstrate “normal sexuality.” He then told Feinberg to get dressed and kicked her out of the hospital and told her never to return. The doctor also told her she had a fever because she was a very troubled person when she asked what was wrong with her. She commented, “this doctor’s prejudices, directed at me during a moment of catastrophic illness, could have killed me. The death certificate would have read: Endocarditis. By all rights it should have read: Bigotry.”

When I read this I was appalled. How could something like this happen? Then one of my friends who goes to Ball State told me a story about their hospital, Ball Memorial Hospital. Apparently it is being investigated because a transgendered woman filed a complaint about being mistreated. Nurses would stick their heads in and out of the room asking, “so is it a he or is it a she?” When the woman, Vaught, asked when a doctor would see her, the nurses replied, “we don’t know how to treat someone in your condition,” and when Vaught asked what her condition was they replied, “no not that condition. The transvestite thing.” This happened in the summer of 2010. Even now people still have prejudices against transgender individuals and act as though they are somehow subhuman and deserved to be questioned and remarked as some creature and not a person like everyone else.

Transgender woman files complaint against Muncie hospital


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