***NOTE: Friends, the story I am about to tell contains some discussions of human anatomy. I realize that many come to this space for spiritual up-lift and reflection. I urge you please to consider the elements of some of this story in the ways it speaks to the best in each of us, even though it is about a subject we don’t normally discuss here. Thank you for your understanding.
No Greater Gift
A friend of mine served as a physician in a major medical center in Los Angeles for three years. In that time, he shared with me about some of the characters he met. But these characters were not the patients, they were his fellow doctors. My friend is a special person: kind, funny, compassionate, wise. He was actually visiting when Covid-19 shut down our in-person services. He helped our church get up and running that first Sunday. You can still see his handwriting on the sign taped to the building’s front door.
His open heart and open mind led to opportunities in his work in Los Angeles to consult regularly with the team that carries out gender confirming procedures and care on behalf of patients in the hospital seeking this kind of care. In this work, he met a person he described to me once and whom I don’t think I’ll ever forget: the team’s surgical urologist.
Over the past few years, the surgical urologist consulted more and more with those seeking the kind of procedures a surgical urologist can provide as part of gender confirmation care. And more and more of the people he met had a genuine, honest appreciation of the care he provided and the ways he might modestly assist them with his specialized area of care. My friend noticed that this doctor had the expertise and pedigree that would lead to a highly lucrative practice. But over the time working together, my friend came to understand better why the surgeon wasn’t doing that.
The surgeon explained that at the same time he was doing more gender confirming work and helping to provide a part of the body often tied intimately to one’s gender, he was also seeing an increase in male patients who who wanted him to enlarge or otherwise augment the perfectly healthy and functional sex organ they were born with. The dissonance between those seeking his care, between gratitude for his assistance and dissatisfaction with all any of his other patients would want in that area was too much.
So the surgeon joined the team that provides gender confirming procedures as his primary way of practicing his specialty. And I wish I could tell you more about what that shift meant to him—that’s all of the story I know. But as someone who is blessed with the chance every year to take part in this week’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, I think I know some of the story. Simply put, a person who risks so much to experience what so many simply wake up knowing, wake up having, is a person who not only deserves my respect, but is someone who has earned my admiration. And there is no greater gift than to serve those one admires.
Many blessings today upon all of the sacred, beautiful bodies out there, and all those who care for them.
Rev. T. J.