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Dear Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,

I had an appointment at your radiology department this afternoon to follow up on a potential irregularity in my left breast (thankfully all is well!). Overall I had an exceptional experience: your reception staff, mammography and ultrasound technicians, and doctor were all courteous and professional. The decor was a little overwhelmingly floral, and was it really necessary to have that much pink in the color scheme — right down to the pink floral sticker they affixed to the relevant spot on my boob? But I can roll my eyes at those design decisions and get on with my day.

What I am uninterested in rolling my eyes at and moving on from is this:

IMG_20150625_145204Several years ago, when my wife had an appointment in your radiology department we happened to notice this sign in passing and found it troubling. I had hoped, upon my return today, to find that your policies and signage had changed — but had my phone ready to hand for snapping this picture if they had not. And here we are.

My problem with this sign and policy is quite simple: Male people (assigned and/or identified) can get breast cancer or experience other physical issues needing breast imaging services. Whether or not you provide those services to male individuals elsewhere, or make exceptions to the stated policy on a case-by-case basis, the sign is alienating. It is unwelcoming not just to men but to women (like me and my wife) who find spaces that are women-only by policy to be unwelcoming, uncomfortable spaces. To put it another way, I am more comfortable accessing healthcare in a place welcome to people of all combinations of sex, gender, and sexuality than I am seeking care in a place that explicitly states that it only welcomes certain types of bodies and/or identities to pass through its doors.

Given that our family’s health center, Fenway Health — a leading provider of respectful, holistic care to trans and genderqueer individuals — refers patients regularly to your institution for necessary clinical care, I would have expected better from you. I am disappointed that in 2015 you continue to use signage (and presumably enforce policies) that are so exclusionary.

I hope the next time I have reason to visit your radiology department I won’t have cause to pull my camera out of my messenger bag.

Sincerely,
Anna

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