‘Lesbianism’ diagnosis bewilders New Zealand woman
The woman’s ‘condition’ was also listed on a health app
By Melissa Nightingale
A woman in the New Zealand capital of Wellington is bemused after discovering her doctor had listed “lesbianism” as a diagnosed condition in her medical records.
Charlotte, who is in a relationship with another woman, has laughed off the diagnosis, saying she is not the type of person to “get up in arms” about such things.
“I’ve never heard the term ‘lesbianism’ used before,” she said.
“If I were sensitive about that sort of stuff I would probably get quite upset about that.“Charlotte, who doesn’t want her surname used, first found out about the diagnosis when the doctor sent a specialist referral letter to another service. She was shown the letter, which listed “lesbianism” along with other health conditions.
She later logged on to the ManageMyHealth app, and found the information listed there as well, with the notes “has a female partner”.
“Didn’t know that was a diagnosis but all good,” Charlotte told the Herald.
“It doesn’t really bother me, it’s just weird, I think. It would bother other people ... if I were sensitive about that sort of stuff I would probably get quite upset about that. It’s not a disease.”
She is not sure yet why the information was relevant to her medical records.
Charlotte posted a screenshot of the information to Wellington Facebook page Vic Deals, jokingly asking how much time she had left.
“How long do I have?!?” she wrote.
Some users made jokes about their “crippling gayism” while others warned her the condition was terminal.
Some of the commenters said it was a system error, and that they had been “diagnosed” as a non-smoker in their app, or that lesbianism was listed so that the doctor did not need to ask about contraception.
But Charlotte said this did not explain why it was also listed as a condition in her specialist referral letter.
Former chairman of Rainbow Wellington Richard Arnold said the diagnosis was “absolutely inappropriate”.
“It would be difficult for them, I think, to choose that as a diagnosis from a catalogue,” he said.
“It bothers me to hear that there could be a doctor out there who’s viewing homosexuality as an illness.“Richard Arnold
“Lesbianism and homosexuality in general hasn’t been included as a disorder since the early 70s in the standard diagnostic manual of mental health conditions.
“It’s extraordinary that that has happened, this is a doctor who’s completely out of touch, it would seem like to me.”
Arnold said someone’s sexuality might be used as a general descriptor that might give context to their life, but no more than that.
“There is acceptance in law and practice that homosexual people are just like everybody else, they just happen to be gay. It’s like having brown hair, there’s nothing more serious than that.”
While Charlotte was not upset and had not laid any complaints about it, Arnold said it would “make a lot of people very angry”.
“I mean, it bothers me to hear that there could be a doctor out there who’s viewing homosexuality as an illness.”
He could not think of any medical reason why it would be relevant to include it in the notes.
Charlotte’s medical centre and the doctor who recorded the diagnosis have been contacted for comment but are yet to respond.
After the Herald made contact with the medical centre, Charlotte said she received a call and an apology from her usual doctor, who was not the one who had made the notes.