"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Gender Inclusivity at the Doctor's Office

She sat like such a big kid on the exam table in her pediatrician's office yesterday. We were there for her 4-year check-up and I had just assured her that no, she would not be getting any vaccinations this time. (Then I crossed my fingers, hoping that was the truth.)

As we waited for Dr. S to come in, we passed the time drawing in Molly's notebook. She would draw a picture and I would write what it was beneath it, then vice versa. She blew me away when, after I handed her my picture of a cow, she wrote beneath it: KAY. "Is that right, Mommy?"

"Wow." I simply said. "That's amazing."

When the door opened, a doctor, but not Dr. S, walked in. "I'm Dr. P," she said, extending her hand to Molly in an unrequited greeting. "You must be Molly."

She is a resident in pediatrics, working alongside Dr. S, and she informed me that she would begin the exam and Dr. S would meet up with us shortly.

The exam began as most 4-year old well-checks do: the doctor asked Molly a series of questions about school and friends and activities and then, when Molly refused to talk to or even make eye contact with the kind and gentle doctor, she turned to me.

She asked about Molly's diet and sleep habits, her physical and cognitive development, and her social development and her screen time. Then, she said, "Do you have any questions or concerns about her gender identity?"

I paused before answering. I wondered if perhaps she had looked through our family file and had learned about Max. I had never been asked that question at a pediatric well-check before, so figured she must have.

"I understand it may seem like an unusual question," she went on, filling in my pause. "We just want to make sure we are addressing all areas of a child's development and gender identity is part of that process."

"No," I assured her, "I don't find it unusual at all. In fact, Molly's older brother, my middle child, is gender-nonconforming."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, clearly having not read through our family file.

I went on to describe Molly as a typically-gendered child: she was born a girl, she identifies as a girl, and she presents herself in a traditionally feminine manner.

We moved on from there to the physical exam (no butterflies in her ears or jumping beans in her belly! Phew!) and the topic of gender identity did not come up again until Dr. S came in and, in chatting after the exam was over, asked how my sweet Max was doing in Kindergarten.

I couldn't stop thinking about the question, though, posed so naturally during a routine exam. I'm so happy that well-child exams, at least in my doctor's practice,  now include this important part of a child's healthy development. Being asked this question made me feel as though gender identity, and the ENTIRE spectrum that it encompasses, is healthy and NORMAL. My children, all three of them, at all three different points on the gender identity spectrum, are healthy and normal.

I knew that already, of course, but the more we talk about it, the more people will start to believe it.

Lesson Learned:

There was another takeaway message from the casual question about gender identity from the doctor: I was given an opportunity to look at the world of gender identity from Molly's perspective. How lucky is she to be growing up with two such different and beautiful and Normal examples of what it means to Be a Boy in her brothers? How lucky am I?

1 comment :

  1. Our own doctor is not nearly so well informed. She's willing to learn, though, which is positive.