YEP Crew Blog Post – Kai Schweizer: Kai’s Mortified Queer Survival Guide for UTIs

It’s hard to find a safe place to pee when you’re transgender. I am a person who was assigned female at birth, but has transitioned with the help of hormone replacement and chest surgery to look relatively male. However, the way I express myself through clothes, makeup, and fashion doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into the boxes of ‘man’ or ‘woman’.

If I go into the women’s bathroom, I will likely frighten others because I am 5’11, have facial hair and a deep voice. But if I go into the men’s room with lipstick or a dress on, I am all too likely to be verbally harassed or seriously injured. And if I use a disability accessible toilet (as someone without physical access needs), I feel like I may be taking away a space from someone who really needs it.

So usually, I just hold it.

At the time that I’m writing this blog, I have a urinary tract infection (UTI). I have one because last week I had no safe place to pee in public and I had to hold it for such a long time that bacteria built up in my body and caused an infection.

These are exceptionally common in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially in trans and gender non-conforming people. Personally, I’ve had a UTI at least once a year since I started transitioning, including several trips to the emergency department while urinating blood.

So, I’m here as a resident expert to give you a handy guide to UTIs.

 

Step 1: Book a Doctor’s Appointment

Book an appointment right away! If you’re urinating blood, go straight to your local emergency department. UTIs rarely go away on their own and usually need antibiotics.

If you’re an LGBTQIA+ person, it can be hard to get appointment with an inclusive GP, especially if it’s a weekend or after hours. You can find your nearest LGBTQIA+ inclusive GP either by going to:

http://radaustralia.org.au/

or by calling Qlife (hyperlink to https://qlife.org.au) at 1800 184 527

If you’re not keen on seeing a new doctor, book the soonest appointment you can with your regular GP.

Step 2: While You Wait.

  • Get some Panadol in you stat. It makes a massive difference not only to the pain level but also how frequently you need to go.
  • Buy yourself some Urol from your local grocer or chemist. This is a powder that dissolves in liquid. It’s super high in vitamin C which helps to destroy the bacteria. Alternatively, you can get a similar affect from cranberry juice or another drink high in vitamin C.

Step 2: Survive the Appointment

If you’re a trans person assigned female at birth, sometimes non-inclusive doctors won’t believe you have a UTI if they perceive you as a cisgender man. This is because UTIs are rare in people with penises, but they do occur.

If you feel safe do so, the process is a lot faster if you’re open about your gender identity or expression with your health professional.

If it doesn’t feel safe to disclose your identity, your appointment might be a little longer and more awkward. When I’ve not disclosed by transness to a doctor, they’ve often asked a lot more questions in order to try and figure out the cause of my UTI. I’ve still always come out of the appointment with the antibiotics that I need to get better.

No matter who you see, at an appointment for a UTI, your health professional will usually ask for a urine sample. You go into a private bathroom (more bathroom struggles, ugh!) and pee into a cup. After that, you’re usually prescribed antibiotics and you’re on your merry way to feeling better!

Step 3: Antibiotics

A health professional will usually prescribe antibiotics. Fill the prescription right away.

Follow the directions your doctor gives you. Make sure you take ALL of them. Don’t stop when you start to feel better. Keep taking them until you finish the whole box.

 

Moral of the story…

It would be great to be able to pee in peace. If you feel safe to use the toilet in public, please do! You’ll be saving yourself a lot of pain and potential UTIs. But I totally understand how hard it is to use public bathrooms when you feel like you’ll be putting your safety at risk. I hope you never experience a UTI, but at least now you know what to expect and how to get rid of it ASAP.

 

 

 

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Jesse Altham

Hey! My name is Jesse and I’m a 23 year old from Fremantle, WA. I’m finishing up my Diploma of Youth Work with North Metro TAFE, completing my last practical placement here with the YEP crew. I am extremely passionate about politics, advocacy and education and I’m so fortunate to be working with YEP in the space of peer education.

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