My Son Is Trans. This Is How Hard It Is to Get Him Gender-Affirming Care

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we can’t see that patient today,” the receptionist said.

“What do you mean?” I asked, trying not to panic. I pulled Max and his little sister, Lulu, out of school that afternoon in order to drive an hour to their asthma doctor. Both kids had a cough, and their asthma inhalers were running low. We needed this appointment.

“Well, we only have one referral and it’s for Lulu,” the woman at the desk said. “The other referral is under Max’s old name.”

Max’s dad and I had helped him change his name and gender marker on his birth certificate just a few months earlier in the year—a process that is neither cheap nor easy, especially for transgender kids like him—but one that we felt would better protect him against discrimination as he gets older and begins applying for jobs and housing, because his legal documents would match his gender identity.

“But this is the same patient,” I demanded. “I already called the insurance company to let them know about this change, too. You’ve been seeing him for years. You can hear him coughing. Why can’t he be seen today?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but insurance won’t process this under the other name,” she responded. “You have to call his pediatrician to get another referral, so we can see him. That process usually takes 3-5 days. Can I help you book something for Max next week? His cough sounds pretty bad.”

This moment perfectly encapsulates what it’s like navigating health care with a trans child. If Max can’t even get an inhaler refill at the same doctor he’s been seeing for years, how easy will it be for him to get access to affirming care as he gets older?

(There’s more! Click here to read the entire essay at INTO)

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