Trans coronavirus survivor says queer people of colour aren’t being cared for properly after being told to stay at home while coughing up blood
A trans woman who contracted coronavirus has described how she was told to stay home by first responders while coughing up blood, highlighting healthcare barriers for LGBT+ people, especially queer people of colour.
Singer and actress Mizz June told USA Today that when she got ill in March she suffered migraines and wheezing. She was coughing up blood and her ribs hurt simply from breathing.
She called emergency services, but was told that she could not go to the emergency room unless she was “really sick”.
“I’m in pain,” she told them. “It hurts to breathe.”
June said first responders replied: “You’re just going to sit there. So do you want to, at 3 o’clock in the morning, go to this emergency room and just sit there?”
Mizz June says she could be dead had she ‘not been the kind of woman I am’.
Still trying to explain that she was struggling to breathe, she said, “they began questioning me, but I was so angered that I demanded to go to the hospital”.
“If I had not been the kind of woman that I am, a Black transgender woman who has been through so much adversity, I would be dead,” she added.
Having been told that the emergency room would be so crowded with COVID-19 patients that she would have to “just sit there”, June arrived to find just three other people waiting.
“They told me I could contract the disease if I went,” she said. “How could I when there were only three people, I expected at least a full room of 100 coronavirus patients.”
After a hospital stay, June eventually recovered from COVID-19 but she is still scared she could contract it again.
“I had a mild case but still I was coughing up blood, wheezing and I could feel my lungs and ribs hurting when I breathed,” she said.
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It’s just a disgusting virus… I don’t think people understand the seriousness of it.
“Whenever I go outside I put on gloves and a mask, I keep my distance because I’ve had it. I don’t know if I can still pass it on to people but also I don’t want to catch it again.”
June’s experiences highlight the healthcare barriers that exist for LGBT+ people in the US, especially queer people of colour.
“Though it’s no surprise to us, very few black and brown folks are receiving adequate healthcare during this time,” she later wrote on Facebook.
“While white/white passing folks are getting tested left and right whether they’re symptomatic or not… Very few Black and Brown ppl have advocates in the healthcare system who give a s**t about us.
“I believe this is ten times worse for Black and Brown trans women/femme queens/queer folks in this city (NYC).”
She has now decided to do something for her community in a time when they are even more underserved that normal.
She wrote: “I’m setting up a service where I’m advocating for my people. Where Black and Brown folks will be alerted of and driven to testing sites nearby their neighbourhoods in the NYC metro area… I’m also planning on raising funds for drivers’ expenses and care packages for clients/those going to get tested (masks, toiletries, etc)… Only way we can get through this s**t is TOGETHER.”