June marks Pride Month each year. Last March, Storycorps came to Carbondale to speak with southern Illinoisans about their lives. Neither Chip Loghry or Matin Nekzard are originally from southern Illinois, though both call it home now. Loghry moved here as a child, and Nekzad and his wife came to the U.S. after fleeing Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s. Nekzad, who works for Shawnee Healthcare, is Loghry’s doctor, and one of the few in the area to treat transgender patients.
LOGHRY: When I started hormones, I had a bad experience with a therapist. So I ended up having to, like drive the five hours to Chicago to go to a doctor, because there really wasn't anything in the area. But I was like, This isn't right. We can't have this. I have to — we have to work with doctors around here to make sure that there's trans folks that can get health care. So yeah, I was really excited whenever I met, you know, you're like, yeah, we can, we can do that. This is not a problem.
NEKZAD: The physician that was in the clinic before me, he was caring for transgender people and I knew He was so when he retired, they approached me and administration that then they were wondering if I want to do this. So I'll love to do it, but I have no idea what I'm doing. So I need education. So luckily, I found really good conferences and of course, found a lot of guidelines on the net that I attended and got the education that I need. But my I was really, really surprised when I met transgender folks and realized what they have gone through is just, it was it was an eye opener and it was just unbelievable. People cry and say, well, we have been waiting for this for years. Yeah, I mean, it's just unbelievable. Yeah. And believe about that part I had no idea that I'm going to encounter and it's the the amount of I another thing that I was not aware of the amount of discrimination and that you guys experience in medical field.
LOGHRY: When Dr. Walker was at the clinic, and he was really the only person in the area that would treat trans folks when I got that letter in the mail saying, Oh, I'm retired, I was like, my stomach dropped. I was like, I don't know what I'm gonna do. I can't, you know, continue to make these five hour trips to Chicago for just primary care. You know, that's, that's not feasible for me.
NEKZAD: when we go to the conference, they usually have a panel of transgender people of different ages. They asked them to give the medical providers an idea of what they have gone through. The stories that you hear is, I fell, dislocated my shoulder, went to the emergency room, and they forget about my shoulder, they concentrate on my hormones and my gender identity and, and asked me questions, people come and go out of this the room In my shoulder is hurting I am I am crying, can something be done about my shoulder? And they are like, okay, when did you start hormones? What kind of surgery has been done, it’s absolutely unrelated and I'm not here for that.
LOGHRY: We call that transgender broken arm syndrome, where you go in and you've got a broken arm, but they only want to treat like that gender aspect of it. So yeah, I'm absolutely aware of that. That's a very common experience. How long have I been visiting you?
NEKZAD: I think maybe I've been doing this for close to two years. So maybe a year and a half something.
LOGHRY: Yeah,it's probably around that : I don't know how you guys at Shawnee, get these people with such passion. You really do, you guys are so lucky in that sense.
NEZKAD: the last few years, I realized that I needed to do something different than I have been doing for a while. So people who have been stigmatized, I’m really, really passionate to work with them. And those two areas that LGBT community and weight people suffer from weight problems. Those are my real passions that I'm concentrating on right now. I love it.
This story was produced by Steph Whiteside with interviews recorded by Storycorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. Find out more about Storycorps at storycorps dot org.