Medical Physicist (she / her)

Where on the LGBTQ+ spectrum do you identify?
I identify as Trans and Queer

What does your work involve?
I work in radiotherapy physics, performing treatment planning and checking, quality assurance testing of linear accelerators, answering clinical queries and service development work such as commissioning new treatment planning systems.

What challenges have you faced being LGBTQ+?  Bit of personal history maybe? 
Coming out at work was very intimidating but everyone was very supportive at both a local and trust level. There’s a lot of logistical challenges changing your pronouns, with a lot of organisations being very reluctant. The GP was the worst for me! ​They kept making excuses not to change my details and it wasn't until I managed to get a private appointment with a specialist and get them to contact my GP on my behalf that they agreed to change things. It really felt ​like they just didn't want to know, it's still pretty awkward getting my prescriptions from them.  I’ve had some challenges outside work but inside work I feel I’ve generally been very lucky with the odd exception (which is mostly mis-gendering).

What changes could be made to achieve a more inclusive work environment?
What really helped me locally was having a transition policy in place, where the majority of the administrative changes were handled by HR rather than me having to chase up.

What is IPEM doing well for the LGBTQ+ community and it's members?
The community of interest is really good to have.

What should / could IPEM be doing to increase LGBTQ+ inclusion?
I’m not sure, perhaps a meeting or some awareness raising? How to support LGBTQ+ patients and make less assumptions (about patients and maybe in general!).

Anything else to add?
Thanks for the opportunity to post!

This was my first full-time job out of uni and I found it extremely hard to transition (pardon the pun) from being surrounded by a merry band of queers at all times to being in the very straight workplace environment. Hopefully now that I’ve come out and no longer feel that I have to suppress who I am at work, I will gradually start to feel more comfortable.

I’d also like to note that as a white person, my experience had a level of privilege not afforded to QTIPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersex People of Colour) community members.

What changes could be made to achieve a more inclusive work environment?
I’m a massive advocate for removing all the gendered vocabulary from procedures and guidance surrounding pregnancy, breast/chestfeeding, and mammography. It’s pretty out-dated to assume that these areas only concern ‘women’ and ‘mothers’, and it can be dangerous too – if a trans man isn’t asked whether he could be pregnant before receiving a radiation dose, it could have serious consequences.

I also think it’s so important for people to be aware of the specific needs that transgender/non-binary/gender-non-conforming people have in a medical setting. A huge amount of people from these groups actively avoid healthcare out of fear of discrimination, both active and passive, and the lack of knowledge and training on these issues is only perpetuating the problem. Examples of these specific needs might be: have you asked your patient if their recorded name matches their preferred name, and asked them for their pronouns? Have you considered the dysphoria and discomfort that your patient may feel when you discuss their chest, genitals and reproductive organs? Have you been discreet whilst asking them if they could be pregnant, so as not to ‘out’ them to a busy waiting room?

These things may feel like too much to consider, but when these people feel so anxious and disregarded that they avoid healthcare, we should do everything we can to mitigate that, and spread some confidence back into the community that they will be treated with respect and have their identity honoured.

What is IPEM doing well for the LGBTQ+ community and its members?
Things like this! Helping LGBTQ+ members be visible.

What should / could IPEM be doing to increase LGBTQ+ inclusion?
It would be lovely to see all contributors add their pronouns into their email signatures – it makes it a little more friendly for trans people/ to add theirs and not stick out like a sore thumb.

What do you think that the medical physics profession could learn from the  LGBTQ+ community and their experiences?
That it’s hard being LGBTQ+! The world wasn’t designed for us, so any small changes you can make in your workplace to make us feel seen and respected would be joyous!

Anything else to add?
Power to all my trans siblings, especially those whose experiences are made more difficult by racism, transmisogyny, ableism and classism.