Tygh Lawrence-Clarke never felt quite right in his own skin. When he started to feel this way as a teenager—that he feels more like a man, despite being born female—he suspected maybe he was coming to terms with a different sexual orientation. Then one day he was chatting with his wife Sandra about a support group she runs for transgender patients at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, and a lightbulb went off. Tygh knew that he wanted to transition. But navigating the medical system as a transgender man presented some bumps in the road, including insensitivity from nurses, doctors and other medical professionals – the very people Tygh thought would be most equipped to handle transgender issues.
The most frustrating thing for Tygh is being constantly misgendered, or being referred to as “she” or “her” despite making it clear that he is male. Even after Tygh had his name and gender changed on his driver’s license, the misgendering continued to happen almost every time Tygh saw a doctor—even at a routine dental appointment. That’s because there is no way to signal gender identity on his insurance documents except through changing the sex listed. The process and requirements for that aren’t clear, and the process is complicated. “This stuff needs to change,” Tygh said. “Transgender people are not getting health care because they’re afraid to go, and they get outed – who knows what might happen with people who are more dysphoric. But I’m not shying away; I’m going to do this – I’m going to fight the fight.”