“Are you queer? Do check-ups give you chills? Do nurses make you nervous? Yeah, us too. Put on your hospital gown, take a deep breath, and we’ll try to get through this together…”
Awkward at the Doctor, a 2010 zine from Eugene, OR, voices some all-too-familiar experiences of doctor anxiety and awkwardness because of heteronormative doctors making assumptions. In 2017, this zine is more relevant than ever! With the election of cheeto-fascist, the increasing agenda against affordable healthcare and increasing criminalization of reproductive healthcare, it’s more important than ever to hold our doctors accountable for providing inclusive and accessible healthcare.
AATD tells how hard it can be to go to the doctor as a queer person, and includes a few different stories of bad times in the exam room. Kari Odden discusses her difficult experience learning safe sex practices as a bisexual woman. She shares what she wishes she’d have been told, to “use a condom on your toys!…Use a dental dam! Cause guess what– women can get and spread STIs, too– even HIV…Wash yo hands!…You should still get tested!” Instead, her doctor did not offer her any comprehensive sexual health advice that was relevant to her. Negative experiences like these, while common, should not be tolerated.
Another entry outlines Lance Heisler’s experience as a queer man with a presumptuous doctor whose assumptions of Lance’s straightness degrade the quality of care Lance receives. Lance makes sure to note just how common awkward doctor experiences are for queers, and he stands in solidarity with queer individuals who may be reading the zine: “I should mention now that this story is specifically meant for all those lesbians, gays, queers, and trans persons out there that know what type of stories I’m talking about.” This statement of solidarity lays groundwork for positive sharing of stories without judgement, and with understanding.
The last page of the zine is a whole page of resources!!!! These include Sexual Assault Support Services, Transgendercare.com, Sex Ed For The Real World, and many other websites or orgs that help with queer health. The time is ripe to take our health into our own hands, and hold our doctors accountable! If you have a shitty, anti-queer doc, write them a bad yelp review. We gotta demand fair treatment, and Awkward at the Doctor explains why. Enjoy the read, and be sure to check out the resources at the end.
Ella Williams, originally from Boston, MA, is a third year student at Grinnell College majoring in Gender&Visual Praxis. She’s a queer cis-lady who spends her time making music/touringunder the moniker Squirrel Flower, researching feminist art history, and trying to abolish capitalism.