Transgender woman unsatisfied by doctor's apology after complaint about questions during exam

Reann Legge said a doctor's response to her complaint about his behaviour isn't good enough, because 'there wasn't a real apology, the doctor apologized that I felt insulted.'

Reann Legge filed a formal complaint after she felt she was inappropriately questioned

Reann Legge said a doctor's response to her complaint read like a 'sorry that you felt wrong — I will learn how to treat trans people better if I come across another one in the future.' (Shutterstock)

A transgender woman says a doctor's written response to her complaint about his behaviour is not good enough. 

​"There wasn't a real apology, the doctor apologized that I felt insulted by what he had said," Reann Legge said.

Legge is a transgender woman. She said she filed the complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons because she felt the behaviour of a doctor was inappropriate during an exam. 

She underwent a mandatory assessment in 2018 for insurance purposes through the FIT for Active Living Program. She said the doctor asked questions about her breasts and genitals that were "irrelevant."

Legge received a letter from the doctor in question after filing her complaint. The doctor wrote that he was "very sorry that the manner in which I inquired this information from you caused you distress." 

​People in my community are scared of going to medical professionals for things because our transness will be blamed for whatever reason we're there. - Reann Legge

Furthermore, he wrote that he had read the information provided by Legge regarding preferred language and "will reflect upon that should I encounter a member of the Trans community in future." 

Legge said it was like a "sorry that you felt wrong — I will learn how to treat trans people better if I come across another one in the future." 

Legge decries Trans Broken Arm Syndrome 

The doctor said, in his letter, that he completed an extensive review of Legge's file before the inter-disciplinary assessment. 

"To ignore your comprehensive medical history, previous medical or surgical interventions (past, current or future) related to your Transgender status and to ignore your Gender Dysphoria is to neglect a significant component of your medical history," he wrote. 

"These factors are taken into consideration when formulating meaningful recommendations for further treatment or investigations, if required." 

Legge said the doctor asked her about a tracheal shave, breast augmentation and about potential surgeries relating to her genitals. She said the line of questioning became increasingly uncomfortable, and noted the surgeries would be indicated on her medical file — had she had them. 

She said she doesn't understand how recommendations for further treatment would be affected by whether she had testicles or not. 

Reann Legge has told the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan that a doctor's response to her complaints about his line of questioning isn't satisfactory. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

Legge said "inappropriate" questioning by doctors is a kind of discrimination transgender people frequently face in the health care system. 

​"There's a syndrome, it's called the Trans Broken Arm Syndrome where people in my community are scared of going to medical professionals for things because our transness will be blamed for whatever reason we're there for."

​Legge said she isn't confident the doctor learned from the encounter because "the response was I will learn when I come across another individual in the trans community ​isn't saying I will learn in case I come across somebody else in the trans community." 

Regulatory body review 

"In a significant number of complaints, there is the expectations that the physician's response will address all or part of the complainant's concerns," said a letter to Legge from CPSS. 

"... your feedback about the doctor's response is valuable and will be taken into consideration when the Medical Manager of the Complaints Resolution process reviews all the information provided." 

It stated that the Medical Manager or a Medical Advisor to the Complaints Resolution process may try to directly resolve the complaint with Legge and the doctor. 

If that's unsuccessful, the case will be reviewed by the Quality of Care Advisory Committee, which is comprised of three doctors and three members of the public. 

A letter reporting the findings of the College's inquiry will then be sent to Legge and the doctor in question.