Roy is a transgender man living in Westminster, California, who has suffered from debilitating pain in his uterus for almost a year. Doctors constantly misdiagnosed his pain, and when he sought a hysterectomy from St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, he was denied six times. Finally, he found a doctor at St. Joseph who diagnosed him with vulvodynia, and who was willing to perform the hysterectomy to treat his pain, despite the hospital’s restrictions on performing gender-affirming treatments. Roy finally received the surgery on June 5, 2020, after months of suffering and canceled surgeries.
In June 2019, I started having intense pain in my uterus, and tried receiving treatment at St. Joseph Hospital. However, every time that I sought treatment, the doctors would seem very uncomfortable treating me as a transgender individual with vaginal issues, and they constantly misdiagnosed my symptoms as a urinary tract infection and they would misgender me at appointments. I finally tried getting a hysterectomy to treat my pain and to also align my body with my gender, and as a trans man, I needed two letters from two different therapists stating that I’m in pain. However, even after I got those letters, which stated how I was in so much pain and discomfort, I just kept getting a “no”, and these constant denials just tore me up. I knew that I was getting discriminated against and it was very triggering, and my gender dysphoria was terrible, and no medication could numb my physical and emotional pain.
Finally, my mom connected me with a gynecologist named Dr. Akerman at St. Joseph who was willing to do the surgery. He heard me out and listened to my story, and finally diagnosed me with vulvodynia, which made so much sense. He also validated me as a trans man, recognizing that I did not need or want female organs, and he performed the hysterectomy. All I needed was one doctor who actually cared about my pain and saw me as a human being. He made me feel cared for and safe, even at a Catholic hospital.
Now, I finally don’t have shame for having a vagina. I was quiet about this for so long, but now that I’ve had the surgery, I’ve been crying so many good tears. I used to not be able to lie down because I would feel so much pain, but now, that pain has left me. I’ve always been looked at differently- as a person of color, with brown skin, tattoos, and piercings, and as a trans man, but now I want to use my voice to speak out against this discrimination because I want other trans individuals to feel comfortable getting the health care that they need. I live by my motto: don’t let the pain bitter you; let it better you. Things will get better.