Home' LOTL : June 2005 Contents 41
By Dr Ann
HANDLING HOMOPHOBIA IN HEALTH
QI had a really bad experience when I was referred to a psychiatrist
for depression. I was honest with her about my sexuality but I felt
she was homophobic and started seeing my lesbian identity as the
root (pardon the pun) of my problems. Are all shrinks like this? --
AThe short answer to your question is NO! Not all psychiatrists are
homophobic, just as all lawyers, teachers, pilates instructors, soccer
fans, council members etc., are not homophobic. But like all of the
groups I just mentioned, they are human beings, and may have their own
personal issues that they find difficult to conceal.
It can be disappointing, however, when those from whom we expect
respect and open-mindedness display condescension and homophobia.
Don't you just wish you could give doctors a questionnaire to check them
out before you agree to an appointment? In an ideal world we would screen
those we turn to for help (doctors, lawyers, pilates instructors...) to check
whether or not they are enlightened, respectful fellow citizens. In reality,
going to the doctor can be about as predictable as ordering the special at
a new restaurant.
One way to limit the randomness of referrals is to have a regular GP who
knows you and with whom you can be completely honest. (This again takes
some perseverance as the right GP can also be just as hard to find.) Most
GPs will know a little about the character of the specialist they refer you to.
They often make a concerted effort to match the personality or style of
patient with the specialist so that any clashes can be avoided.
If, however, despite the GP's best intentions you find it is not working out
with the new specialist, you could try one or more of these strategies:
Persevere with your new doctor and see if your first impression was correct.
Do they continue to make you uncomfortable? Was there some
miscommunication between you? Perhaps you could try to give them the
benefit of the doubt before you make a final decision about continuing to
Tell your doctor that you feel they seem unsympathetic to your chosen
sexuality and that this makes you uncomfortable. This gives the doctor an
opportunity to either reassure you that this is not the case, or to be honest
about the fact that they themselves are not comfortable with this aspect of
your life. Either way, you will have a better idea of the truth about the
If you feel uncomfortable with either of the above, or if you have tried these
and they don't yield any results, go back to your GP, explain the problem
and see if they can refer you to someone else. This may not lead
immediately to finding the perfect specialist for you, but remember that
there are as many different personality types amongst doctors as there are
amongst patients. If you persevere with finding the right one you will find
that therapy can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. Depression
is not something you are expected to resolve on your own. Don't give up
and let a negative experience stop you from benefiting from the support of
the health system.
Dr Ann is a doctor at a Sydney metropolitan area hospital. The opinions
expressed in this column are those of the author and are not intended as a
substitute for medical advice. If you have concerns about your health please
consult your health practitioner.
...for all your optical
needs, purple or otherwise.
Phone Sarah or Lizzie
for an appointment
on 9743 0898.
Eye Exams Bulk Billed
Lizzie Wilson Optometrist B.Optom(Hons)UNSW
49a Majors Bay Rd, Concord NSW 2137
PURPLE IS OUR FAVOURITE COLOUR!
"In an ideal world we would screen
those we turn to for help (doctors,
lawyers, pilates instructors...) to check
whether or not they are enlightened,
respectful fellow citizens. In reality,
going to the doctor can be about as
predictable as ordering the special at a
6 Weeks Beginners
Thursday 6-7pm $55
Starts July 14
104 Erskineville Rd Erskineville
Ph Penny Gulliver 0411 808 451
Links Archive May 2005 July 2005 Navigation Previous Page Next Page