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I have had what can only be called an unfortunate transgression occur. I am only a few months into my prescription of feminizing hormones and I got around to scheduling my first follow-up appointment as my prescription is almost empty. At my initial appointment, I had made a point of asking whether follow up appointments could be done via Telehealth services to which I was told that this would indeed be possible. Little did I realize, this was false and a complete miscommunication.
The very same day that I’m writing this, I called to schedule my follow up appointment before being informed that although my insurance, legal address, and practitioner are Minnesota-based, because I reside in Wisconsin for college, I would not able to schedule a Telehealth appointment and would have to come back to the Twin Cities for an appointment. The funny thing is that I am able to get the necessary bloodwork done anywhere, but simply because I currently reside in Wisconsin as opposed to Minnesota, I cannot have a Telehealth appointment.
I emailed my practitioner to see if there is any way around this whatsoever or if the person I spoke to on the phone scheduling my appointment was simply mistaken. They said that I technically only have to be “physically” within Minnesota to access Telehealth. I wondered if this was a ‘wink wink, nudge nudge’ telling me to just pretend I would be in Minnesota, but on further review I doubt it. There are standards in place with Telehealth to have healthcare providers code and track for the ‘place of service’ (where I am when I receive service) and while I might trust my healthcare provider to look the other way, my insurance provider explicitly states they would not foot the bill if they found out I was in Wisconsin (which they would). I also could not find any VPN servers in Minnesota that weren’t suspect, so that’s a no-go as well. It’s truly a surveillance capitalist hellscape we’re living in.
It’s an unfortunate position I’m in because of the availability of my prescription and the fact that my insurance is good for many practitioners within Minnesota, but few in Wisconsin (let alone the Fox Valley) are both convenient and can provide my particular prescription. It also didn’t help that the minute after I got off the phone, Facebook decided to die so I couldn’t moan and complain as, I’m wont to do, with anyone on Messenger.
Now the options I have before me are to take two separate 10-hour Greyhound trips to get from Appleton to Minneapolis and back on Friday and Sunday, go without my prescription (there’s no way in hell this is happening, trust me), or to see if I know anyone who is interested and not busy for an entire day to take a real coo-coo-for-cocoa-puffs transgender adventure day trip to the Twin Cities with me (an introverted woman with particularly boring interests and no drivers license) solely so I can go to my appointment.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for indulging me. Complaining is a favorite sport of mine. The thing is, even though healthcare bureaucracy is annoying for everybody, my problems are first world problems – especially so for a transgender person. I have no financial issues paying for my healthcare, I’ll still be able to get to the appointment as painstaking as I may find it, and I’m lucky to have the right at all to these drugs. I used to think the right thing to do was bury my first world frustrations within myself and deny their existence, but just as I wouldn’t do that towards my gender identity, it’s really not healthy to do the same with my trivial frustrations.
This is not to say I should go around like a martyr talking about how woe is me (though I will admit that I have moaned to a number of my friends, but that is the burden they carry for deciding to be friends with me), but I think embracing your frustration in a responsible way, no matter how simultaneously base and circumstantial, is an opportunity for empathy; and empathy, my friends, is certainly a form of humility.
The truth is that your first world problems are downstream of issues that are similarly shaped, but of a much larger and more grotesque shape. I may have a frustrating experience accessing my transgender healthcare, but many people in countries around the world simply don’t have access to it. Many trans people in our own country can hardly, if at all, afford health insurance for any variety of medical or health-related needs. For many people, spending 80-something dollars on Greyhound tickets would be financially crippling. For many people, asking time off of work or having an entire weekend to give up is impossible. My problems are super frustrating, but repressing them because of their relative unimportance would be like not allowing yourself to scream copious expletives after stubbing your toe because someone else broke their leg. It’s not that you “feel their pain” in the slightest, but you are reminded to have a bit more respect for what they must be going through. This problem is related to my own, it’s just that my problem is much more derivative and insignificant. It’s important to empathize and be understanding in any case, so this is as good a way as any to do it.
You can still own your frustration, while having no illusions about where your problems lie in the grand scheme of humanity. In fact, you can actually see how your problems are endemic to larger ones and how understanding that, as opposed to repressing your frustration, can be an immensely humbling experience. “Complaining to the manager” is okay sometimes if and only if, in the spirit of a labor union, you take everyone’s problems to them and not just your own.