But, starting in a new practice is always dicey when you're gay. First, there's the form. Are you: Married, Widowed, Single or Divorced. We'll I'm married. But not legally. Several years ago, I started making a new category on the form and circling it. I write in partner. It hardly even phases me anymore.
And then there's the "Are you sexually active?" question. You never know whether your healthcare provider is going to be cool with gay people. So, I always hold my breath when that question comes up. Today it was fine. In fact, I think my new provider (a great nurse practitioner named Alice) thought it was kind of cool. I think, if I understood her, that she has a gay kid.
I was relieved to have gotten through the two potentially dicey parts unscathed. Then, things got more complicated at the end of the visit. I had to go and register with the lab, because the lab is run by somebody other than the medical office and their systems don't talk. So, I went in, and had to give my info all over again. This time I had to respond to questions being asked by a lab tech sitting in front of a computer. You guessed it. First, the woman asked, "Are you: Married, Widowed, Single, Divorced."
"Oh, I don't know if that's in there. Let me see." And then, imagine our surprise, when out of the drop-down menu down came Life-partnered. Wow! I was pretty psyched.
So then, she asked me who should be contacted in an emergency. I gave her Michelle's information. "Relationship?" she asked.
"She's my partner."
"Oh. Let me find that on the list." Another drop-down menu. Options included: friend, husband, grand-daughter, niece, and at least fifteen other choices. Big surprise, partner wasn't on the list. In the end, we had to choose "significant other." But, that choice really annoyed me. Michelle is my wife (though not legally, of course). She's my partner. Significant other is a descriptor for a boyfriend/girlfriend. And yet, we had to use it because it was as close as we could get.
I think I might have been less annoyed had the category life-partner not existed in the drop-down list. But if you're going to have it on the one, you REALLY need to have its corollary on the other. Most days, I can live with the ways that my life and love are invisible, or worse. But most days, I don't bump up against it quite so obviously.