A Canadian trans woman has talked about repeatedly experiencing transphobia from health professionals.
Jessica Dempsey, from Halifax, told CBC of several instances where she faced transphobic discrimination in the hospital system throughout Halifax – including threats from a doctor at a mental health unit.
Between November 2014 and January 2015 Dempsey attempted to take her own life on several occasions; she told CBC these suicide attempts were a consequence of the abuse she had received since her transition in 2012.
She was taken to the emergency room at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax after each attempt to take her life and later hospitalized in the Abbie Lane mental health unit; Dempsey claims hospitalization did not help her.
She told CBC: ‘Unfortunately, the same discrimination that put me in the psych ward was still prevalent in the hospital system.’
Dempsey says she was regularly discriminated against by people addressing her by her former name; most of the time her hospital bracelets and meal tray tickets, also carrying her former name, stated she was male.
According to CBC one of the nurses at Abbie Lane told Dempsey: ‘Sorry, we’re not equipped to deal with LGBTQ people here.’
But the worst, said Dempsey, was when a psychologist threatened her directly by saying: ‘If you do this again, I’m going to tell the cops to leave you at the curb.’
Nicole Naussbaum, president of the Candian Professional Association for Transgender Health, told CBC of a lack of education in the medical community with medical students having, on average, five hours on LGBTI-related content in their curriculum.
‘These issues create considerable barriers,’ she said.
‘People believe it’s safer for them in their medical emergencies to stay out of the emergency room.’