Nebraska Medical Center and the Dominant Narrative

I live with a very rare genetic condition called cystinosis which slowly destroys my organs including the eyes, kidneys, liver, muscles, and brain. Because of this, I needed a kidney transplant in 2011.

At the time, I lived in Republican-controlled Nebraska where I went to the Nebraska Medical Center to get the transplant. However, the dominant narrative got in the way. This narrative says that society does not need to treat transgender people with dignity and respect.

On several occasions, while sitting in the waiting room at the Nebraska Medical Center Holly Fox, the transplant nurse coordinator would call my name. Instead of calling me by the name I identify with or the gender pronouns I prefer she called me Michael and Mr. Covington. Many of the staff there fought with me over their issue with the dominant narrative that says those who are different do not deserve to be treated as a human being. They even made excuses for their behavior and they claimed that it was illegal for them to use my preferred name and pronouns.

There was little for me to do because I accepted the dominant narrative and let them demean me.

The dominant narrative led to me not fighting when the Nebraska Medical Center staff treated me like shit and refused to do the kidney transplant. They even pretended to get ready for the surgery by actually scheduling it and having me go through all of the pre-operative appointments. Then at the last minute, they canceled the surgery. All of this happened even though I had a living donor ready to do the transplant. All they needed to do was perform the damn surgery.

These medical professionals obeyed the dominant narrative that said I am not worthy of life.

Because I did not get the treatment that I needed I was forced to have a less effective treatment that did not benefit me and in the long run hurt me.

Thus, because I did not get the transplant I needed I was forced to go on dialysis to extend my life. And because I did not get the transplant several complications occurred that was 100 percent preventable.

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I had many surgeries that I did not need. Some of the surgeries were dialysis catheters that were placed in my chest for access to perform dialysis. I experienced many complications that led to me going to the hospital and having even more procedures. It led to needing to switch to another form of dialysis which meant more surgeries.

Everything I went through for three years was 100 percent preventable. None of this benefited me and I could have died waiting for the transplant.

Because of the medications, surgeries, and dialysis, years may have been cut off my life.

Who benefited from this and from me accepting the dominant narrative? The hospital, the medical supply companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, and everyone who made a profit off my suffering. These people and institutions made hundreds of thousands of dollars off the unnecessary medical procedures and medications.

This happened because of the dominant narrative and because I and others were not fighting it.

Nevertheless, I have the power to change this and so do you. Together we can win the fight for universal health care as a human right and we can win basic human rights for all people regardless of your gender identity or gender expression.

Take action now! 

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I am Transgender

I am raising money to help pay for the procedures I am hoping to have that will help me affirm my gender identity and overcome gender dysphoria.

Unfortunately, I have not had a job that provided adequate health care benefits so I could even consider having any gender affirming procedures. I have Medicaid at the moment and while it covers hormone therapy it does not cover anything else.

These procedures are medically necessary because of the many effects of gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which they identify. People with gender dysphoria may often experience significant distress and/or problems functioning associated with this conflict between the way they feel and think of themselves and their physical or assigned gender (American Psychiatric Association).

Living with gender dysphoria is like an immeasurable and indescribable self-hate. Hate because you feel that everything about you is wrong and you would rather destroy your own body because how disgusted you are with your own body. All this because you identify differently from what biology gave you. It destroys your life, it harms everything from your academic performance to your intimate relationships. You have trouble relating to people and completing daily tasks. Everything it is to be a human becomes hard if not impossible.

Those of us with this, deal with many mental health concerns. Not because there is anything wrong with us but because society is the problem. Because society forces everyone to conform to what Christian conservatives think is normal.

According to a 2011 National Center for Transgender Equality found that 41% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide at least once and 50% of transgender youth will attempt suicide before their 20th birthday.

I became so depressed in 2016 because of many reasons but one of the biggest was because of realizing that doing just hormones is not even to make my body into who I really am. Then the thought that I could not be intimate with any one again because of how much I hate my body added on top of that is the war I continue to fight because society has not come to the point where everyone is given the health care they need regardless of their zip code or income level.

It is very difficult for me to do this but I must for my own health, ask for your help in paying my medical expenses for my gender affirming procedures. I need to raise at least $10,000 to help cover these expenses. Health insurance will not cover the procedure so I have to pay out of pocket for it.

Please go here to donate: Mika Covington

Jon Neiderbach & Cathy Glasson for Iowa Governor

I support both Cathy Glasson and Jon Neiderbach for Iowa Governor. I believe that both are great candidates and both have bold progressive agendas.

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes in education and ensuring everyone has an equal chance to get ahead.

My budget will include $100 million dedicated to make post-secondary education and training available and accessible. Students who agree to stay and work in Iowa after graduation and are enrolled at any of Iowa’s community colleges and public universities will qualify for this new program. My budget will also include funding to reduce debt owed by students. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he understands that every Iowan must have affordable high-quality health care.

I support keeping the ACA – with needed “fixing” legislation – until there are enough votes to replace it with single-payer universal coverage. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes that Iowans need lower drug prices right now.

I believe Iowa should in cooperation with other states negotiate drug prices for our residents, and press hard for the Secretary of HHS to do the same for all Americans. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes that every Iowa regardless of gender identity must have access to high-quality comprehensive health care.

I will work with the Board of Medicine and the relevant professional societies to educate providers and stamp out discrimination and bias toward transgender and intersex individuals. Iowa should require health insurance policies written in the state to cover medical and mental health services in association with gender identity issues. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he wants to combat bullying and harassment in Iowa and especially against LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) students.

Every principal should be required to attend training, with follow up training for the teachers in their building. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he knows that discrimination against LGBTQIA people continues to happen in Iowa even with marriage equality and the amended Iowa Civil Rights Code.

I will propose additional funding for the Iowa Civil Rights [Commission] for timely investigations and enforcement actions, and I will embrace the Governor’s Conference on LGBTQIA Youth. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports common sense gun reform.

I support applying universal background checks to all sales including those at gun shows, and I favor using technology to make it easier for law enforcement to link bullets to specific weapons. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

Iowa needs more people in our workforce, and welcoming immigrants including a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals is an excellent way to increase our population. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports a living wage.

I support increasing the state minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately, with a provision that it will increase indexed to inflation. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports “too-big-to-fail-to-big-to-exist” legislation.

We need aggressive federal oversight to financial institutions to ensure that none get so large their failure would jeopardize the banking system. Banks want capitalism when they are profitable and socialism when they are in danger: unacceptable. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes that we need a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.

The bottom line is we need legislation to ensure the stability of the financial system, limit the power of the financial system and any individual institution, and make sure the financial system works to help hardworking American families. – Jon

I also support Cathy Glasson for Iowa Governor. Cathy has been an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for over 20 years, she is the president of Iowa SEIU 199 and lives in Coralville Iowa.

I am supporting Cathy because she believes as do I, that the primary job of a Governor is to raise peoples’ standard of living.

As Cathy says, 381,000 Iowa households are struggling to pay their bills because two-thirds of the jobs in our state pay less than $20 an hour. Parents working two and three low-wage jobs are still scrambling to come up with $900 each month for childcare, to pay the rent or mortgage, to put food on the table and gas in the car.

Cathy understands that we must provide for those who have the least. She understands that Iowa must increase the minimum wage to a living wage and that Iowa must do more to make childcare affordable for all families.

I support Cathy because she believes workers must have collective bargaining rights. She believes that it should be easy to form unions not harder.

As a nurse, I believe healthcare is a right and holding Iowans’ care hostage is wrong. – Cathy

As she says, healthcare is a right, it is not a privilege for a few.

I support Cathy because she understands that education is a right and Iowa must fully fund our public schools, make community college free, and freeze tuition at Iowa’s public universities.

It is time for a bold progressive, please support Cathy Glasson and Jon Neiderbach for Iowa Governor and join the campaign.

Go here to join Jon Neiderbach’s campaign: click here
Go here to join Cathy Glasson’s campaign: click here
Not endorsed by any candidate, candidate’s committee, or political party.

[UPDATE] Daniel Clark for Congress

[UPDATE]: I am not endorsing Daniel Clark for Congress because of his behaviour. He continues to attack anyone and everyone who stood up to Trump by voting for Hillary Clinton last November. Thus, in an effort to take back the House from the Republicans I will be voting for Dave Loebsack.

Daniel Clark is running for Congress in Congressional District 2 as an independent. I asked him a few questions and here are those answers.

 

  • The average student-loan in 2014 was $28,950, representing a 56 percent increase from the 2004 average of $18,550. During that same decade, state funding for public colleges dropped from 62 percent to 51 percent. College is free in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, while in France, public universities are free for students from lower-income families, and those from higher-income families pay about $200 a year. What would you do or support to reduce the cost of going to college or make it tuition free as it is in many nations?
    • I support the Robinhood Tax and I would use that and legislation like it to help push free higher education.
  • The Republican-controlled Congress appears to be fighting for corporations, insurance companies, and for-profit hospitals in their effort to repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Repeal would mean that 57 million senior citizens and disabled Americans with Medicare would see higher premiums and deductibles. Repeal would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over the next ten years, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. Repeal would also take Medicaid away from nearly 17 million people. I am one of the Americans who benefit from the ACA because I live with a pre-existing condition, cystinosis. The disease is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells, and it slowly damages my organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs muscles, and brain. Do you support keeping the ACA?
    • I support expanding the ACA into Single Payer Healthcare. We need Universal Healthcare, the ACA was a step in the right direction but we need more.
  • The ACA is a significant step forward, and we must fight to protect it. However, even with it one of my medications, Procysbi costs over $75,000 for a 30-day supply. That is just one medication not including the 24 other medications I am taking. What do you propose which would correct the errors in the ACA?
    • I would push and am raising awareness for HR676 Expand and Improve Medicare for All Act.
  • In 2017, many transgender and intersex individuals still do not have access to high-quality comprehensive health care. Even when transgender and intersex individuals do access health care they are often faced with harassment and discrimination. Some of the issues that transgender and intersex  individuals face  include but are not limited to the follow, physicians and medical staff refusing to identify the individual by  their preferred name and pronouns (for many individuals it is difficult and sometimes even impossible for transgender and intersex individuals to correct their government documents to reflect their identities because of the cost and in some states a confusing process), insurance companies (including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and VA) refuse to cover gender conforming treatments including surgery, sometimes transgender and intersex individuals are even refused care by physicians and medical staff. What would you propose to correct these wrongs?
    • We could propose clinics specializing with LGBTQI with counseling offered as well.
  • Over eight in 10 (85 percent) LGBTQIA students experienced verbal harassment based on a personal characteristic, and nearly two thirds (66 percent) experienced LGBTQ-related discrimination at school (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). Most LGBTQ students report that they’ve heard homophobic remarks (56 percent) and negative remarks about gender expression (64 percent) from school staff (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization were twice as likely to report they do not plan to pursue post-secondary education. Also, LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization and discrimination had lower GPAs, lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). What would you do to protect LGBTQIA students? Federal Anti-discrimination law.
    • I think we should institute PFLAG and LGBT safe counselors and after school groups to always offer an escape for those who feel bullied in school. We also need anti-bullying legislation that would hold the school board and officials accountable.
  • In 20 states and DC prohibit in employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 19 states and DC prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 20 states and DC, they prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, the include sexual orientation but not gender identity. What will you do to ensure full federal civil rights for LGBTQIA individuals?
    • We need to expand that from 20 to 50. Simple as that.
  • Since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week (https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/). Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that on an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns. What gun laws and or reforms do you support?
    • I support stricter gun laws on obtaining firearms. Stricter background checks and no one on the FBI watch list. Omar Mateen, for example, was on the FBI watch list and bought his gun legally, there was legislation that almost passed that would have prevented him from doing this.
  • Do you support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship?
    • 100%. No human is illegal.
  • Do you support the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), TVDL (Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License), and UAFA (Uniting American Families Act)?
    • Yes to all of the above.
  • Do you support replacing the minimum wage with a “living wage”?
    • Of course, we need a living wage and it is disturbing that our government is more concerned protecting corporations over the people.
  • What is your stance on the Trans Pacific Partnership?
    • The TPP was a horrible deal that we were lucky to avoid.
  • Do you support “too-big-to-fail” legislation?
    • No, too big to fail legislation is why we are in this mess. Nothing is too big to fail.
  • Do you support a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act?
    • 100% I was ecstatic to see Tulsi [Gabbard] introduce this Bill.

 

 

 

You are not alone

This year has been very difficult. I had a serious mental health even followed with several suicide attempts. I was hospitalized and afterward, I moved to Ankeny to live with friends and to attend a fifteen-week intensive outpatient therapy group.

I am living with severe depression, more specifically I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD).  According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), MDD presents with depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks and impaired function in social, occupational, and educational activities. Additionally, MDD is a significant mental health condition that can affect every aspect of life.

Living with any mental illness makes life difficult. It doesn’t make you weak it makes you stronger. I am not proud of my suicidal thoughts and actions, but they did happen. The important thing is that I got help and it indeed helped.

I know that I am not the only person with mental health issues. I am like many other people and especially like many people living with cystinosis or any other rare disease. At times, I wish that I did not have cystinosis or that it would just go away. I would like to experience life without having cystinosis. I want to be normal.

As you may be aware, I am working on my Bachelor’s degree in psychology and I am considering getting a Ph. D in psychology afterward. I decided to go into psychology because when I was growing up with cystinosis, I did not have a mental health professional who really understood what I was going through. I felt that many of the mental health professionals I saw lacked an understanding of what it is like living with a rare disease and being transgender.

Thus, here I am working to become the professional that I was looking for.

Therefore, I plan to work within the field specializing in rare diseases and/or organ transplantation. I want to be there for young people like myself.

If you are having suicidal thoughts go to the nearest Emergency Department. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, or you can call or text me at 1-712-314-8258.

Please remember that you are not alone. Please reach out for help. No one can do this thing called life alone.