Scarleteen All Growed Up: Rachel

As a young lesbian I heard stories about college health services attributing any and all health problems to potential pregnancy. I didn't even make it to a gynecologist for the first time until I was 24. When I went and he learned that I'm lesbian and hadn't had sex with someone with a penis, he refused to do a manual exam - but based on a family history of ovarian cancer gave a referral for a (far more invasive, but hey it wouldn't be him "deflowering" me) vaginal probe. When I asked about STI screening, he asked if I'd kissed anyone with sores on her mouth, and when I said no, said I didn't need to be screened for STIs. I left feeling vaguely ashamed, written off, and doubting my own sense of knowing what I need to be a responsible person and partner.

Luckily, I had heard about Scarleteen and, while their existing written resources were helpful, what was even more important was their super helpful forum volunteer affirming that the doctor had given straight-up (pun intended) wrong information. As a result, I felt empowered to make an appointment with a different doctor, who, as it turned out, worked out of the same building - and to leave a print-out of the CDC recommendations for health care for women who have sex with women on the desk of the misinformed doctor.

Furthermore, when I went a couple of years later for an appointment with another gynecologist in a different city, I felt able to reiterate - the four times it took for her to finally stop insisting that I didn't need to be tested - that despite what she said I would still feel more comfortable being screened. I also had the courage to call the practice to inform them of exactly why I would be going elsewhere in the future. Scarleteen didn't just help me get the care that I (and everyone!) deserve, but they empowered me to do my small part to counter the misinformation that's rife among too many gynecologists when it comes to sexual health.