You need to worry about this

In late November 2018, I was asked by my doctor if I could be available for media interviews in late January. St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto had conducted a study of 120 trans people and found that, on average, trans people were 60% less likely to get screened for any form of cancer. The interviews with CTV network and Canadian Press were held this past Monday, January 21 and were related to the release of this study. The study itself was released on Wednesday January 23.

in my remarks, I stated that in my view, there were two main reasons for such a low screening rate. The first of these is a lack of training on the part of the medical profession. As I’m sure my trans readers are aware, many doctors and nurses have little or no training in trans health issues. Here in Ontario it is possible to change the gender marker on identification documents without having had any surgery. So, given that documents show one gender, and the appearance of the patient matches that identifier, the caregiver may not consider screening for certain types of cancer. For instance, if faced with what the documentation and appearance indicates “male”, the caregiver may not know the person in front of them was born female and consider screening for cervical cancer.

Again, if a transwoman is present, the idea of screening for prostrate cancer may not be considered.

The second problem lies within the trans population itself. I know that we are under pressure, often self-imposed, to blend in, or “pass” as our correct gender. The one place that can be a detriment is in our health care. First, let me state I’m fortunate in that my caregiver at St Mike’s is well-versed in trans medicine. Others may not have that luxury. If, as happens, you changed doctors after you transitioned, unless you’ve had a full physical exam with this new doctor, they may not be aware you were not born as you now present. And they won’t know this unless you tell them. I know that advice is probably not want you want to hear, but we’re talking about something that may save your life so maybe – just this once – you could break down that barrier you’ve erected between now and the past.

This is something you really do need to worry about.


I’ve had trouble in the past posting links on WordPress, so if you want the links to both the televised interview and the print interview, just ask and I’ll provide them in a response to a comment.


“Those were the days”

A friend and I were talking earlier this week, following the death of actress Jean Stapleton, and we both agreed that television pushed the limits more in the 1970s than today.  Let me clarify that – network television pushed the limits, cable being virtually non-existent.  With the wealth of cable channels available now, no matter what you want to watch, you can probably find it somewhere on the dial.  But back then you were pretty much stuck with the three major networks, plus PBS if you were lucky.  Of course, living in southern Ontario as I do, in addition to those, I also had access to the two major Canadian networks, CBC and CTV.  There was also CITY-TV in Toronto which, very late on Friday nights, would run what they called the “Baby Blue” movies – basically soft-core porn.

Interesting sidebar to the “Baby Blues”. I recall reading an article in one of the Toronto papers at the time that said on Friday nights it was common for people (read “men”) to drive to a place near the border with their television sets they could plug into the lighter socket in the car, and hope they could catch CITY’s signal across the lake. But, enough of CITY – they’ve become civilized now.

I said the major networks, and by that I mean the American networks.  Jean Stapleton, for those too young to remember, was one of the stars of “All in the Family”. The other star was Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie Bunker, a dyed-in-the-wool bigot.  Keep in mind this was the early ‘70s, therefore the show was quite controversial.  I won’t use any of the words he used, but think of all the derogatory and racist names used for other races, religions and nationalities and you’ve pretty much got Archie’s world view.  Can you honestly see any network trying to get a show like that on the air in today’s politically correct times?  Not a chance.

Then we had “The Jeffersons”.  George Jefferson can best be described as a black Archie Bunker, only living in a better part of town.  Again, I doubt there is a network that would even consider a show like that today.

One more show that caused quite a stir was “Soap”.  It was situation comedy  about the Tate family, but what ruffled the public’s feathers was the character played by Billy Crystal – an openly gay man.  As I wrote above – this was the ‘70s, and things like that weren’t part of the normal viewing schedule.  Now it is common to see gay or lesbian characters.  I must admit though that I’m waiting for the day a show has an openly trans person as a main character.

Today it is also quite common to see people jumping into bed with each other on network television – just watch the soap operas.   Back in the ‘70s though, such things just weren’t shown on television (CITY’s “Baby Blue” movies excepted). I can’t recall where I read this, but apparently the first network series to actually show a married couple in bed together wasn’t one of the more mature dramas, but that most apple pie of shows “The Brady Bunch”.  Again, a case of 1970s television pushing limits.

There are no doubt some will read this and think “yeah, but the world has progressed since then. Attitudes have changed”.  True, the world has progressed.. But it’s also become much tamer; much more afraid of causing offence and much less willing to take a chance.  As for attitudes, if they’ve changed so much, why is there such a furor in the US over equal marriage?

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Since Pickering Village is holding its annual jazzfest this weekend, and I can hear it all from my window, I guess it would be appropriate for me to sign on with:

Hep Cat.

All those years ago

Last night I watched a CTV special on the Cuban missile crisis.  You can look it up in the history books or online if you’ve never heard of it.  All I’ll say, to pique your curiosity, is that those events are the nearest the US and the USSR ever came to World War III.

But, watching that drew my mind back to October 1962 and the events in my life during that month.  I was in Vancouver B C during the early part of October at the army personnel depot awaiting my discharge papers (medical discharge).  Just before Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving – early October), Vancouver was visited by Pacific hurricane Freda.  The depot had its own power station, but for some reason, the only form of energy available in the kitchens was steam.  Worked out great in some ways – I could have all the tea and coffee I wanted – not so great in others. I swear I’ll never eat steamed sausages again: once was enough.  On the Monday I decided I’d go into the downtown area.  Later in the afternoon, knowing all they had at the depot was steamed foods, I decided to stop at a coffee shop for something to eat.  Counting my money, I realized all I could afford was coffee, so that is what I ordered. It wasn’t until I saw all the turkey dinners being brought in from the kitchen that I even remembered it was Thanksgiving. No turkey for me at Thanksgiving 1962.  My dinner consisted of a cup of coffee.

A couple of days later my papers arrived and I was soon on a train back to Toronto. It was during this trip the Cuban missile crisis began and quickly escalated.  By the time I arrived home, the Soviet freighters carrying the missiles were headed straight for the US blockade and the world was simultaneously holding its breath and crossing its fingers.  Keep in mind that during this time I was still technically in the army, but on final 30 day leave.  My stepfather was also in the army, member of the Royal Canadian Regiment (I had been in the Royal Canadian Engineers) and we were both aware that the telephone could ring at any time ordering him to his post and me to the nearest army base.  Fortunately, the confrontation at sea never happened, but it was a very nervous time for my mother, my stepfather and myself and we’d jump every time the telephone rang.  In early November I finished that final leave and was officially out of the armed forces.

If you ask people in their mid to late sixties, I’m sure you would get some fascinating stories  of their October 1962.  Mine isn’t that fascinating, but I still remember it clearly.  And every Thanksgiving, I have a cup of coffee and reflect on what might have been all those years ago.