On Patients and Polyamory

Gentle Reader, as Pride Month has finally arrived – and there’s been considerable lack of interest in the etiquette/advice column – this will be the final installment of that particular feature as a regular thing. Therefore, next week, we’ll move on to lovingly tailored Pride posts for your enjoyment.

Unicorns

First, though, let’s wrap the etiquette situation up. Our first query is from our beloved Ms. Spectacular, who writes:

Hi friend! As you are aware, I am set to graduate with my Masters in Oriental Medicine in a few months and will soon be a licensed acupuncture. My dream is to work in a holistic, integrative clinic specializing in treating folks with uteri. In mainstream medicine, this field is generally called “women’s health” and a yearly checkup is called a “well-woman” visit. I don’t want to use these terms because they’re not trans-inclusive. I’ve toyed with the idea of calling anyone with a uterus a “uterati,” replacing “women’s health” with “womb care” and a “well-woman” checkup with “well-womb” checkup. However, I’m hesitant because I don’t want to reduce people to body parts and I’ve known some trans people who don’t identify with the commonly prescribed names for genitals and reproductive organs at all. Do you know of any better names for this particular type of care? As a health care provider, I really want to do my best to make my patients feel safe and inclusive language is an important part of that.

I know this is a completely different kind of question than you’re probably used to getting or want to get into on your blog, but I am stumped so am asking as many folks as possible. I even emailed Buck Angel today. Thanks, love!

Buck Angel: An American trans man who produces and performs in adult film, and is rather famous for it, actually

Buck Angel: An American trans man who produces and performs in adult film, and is rather famous for it, actually

Now, darling – I’m absolutely thrilled that you’re doing your research and doing your best to make your practice trans inclusive. While you noted that I’m not particularly familiar with such things, I’m happy to offer my opinion, and my audience – so if anyone out there has some better terms, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

As for my thoughts? I like the womb-related phrases; we have ear-nose-and-throat specialists, so why wouldn’t we have womb specialists? However – as delightful as I find the portmanteau of uterati, I really can’t condone it. That seems more along the lines of reducing people to their parts. People with wombs, perhaps, might be your best bet for phrasing. Good luck, love!

Because we're discussing wombs, and because I've been obsessed with mid-century recipes involving aspic, I found *this* for you!

Because we’re discussing wombs, and because I’ve been obsessed with mid-century recipes involving aspic, I found *this* for you!

Next, Miss Goss writes:

Alrighty. Theoretical Situation. When planning a dinner party, a polyamorous friend wants to bring both their partner and a metamour. How does one figure out the seating?

Seating Chart

Miss Goss, seating charts are always terrible complex, and are one of my favorite parts of the event-planning process. As you personally can attest, there can be unintended side-effects of a really well-planned seating chart, such as improbable friendships. Before we get into that, a couple of definitions so that unfamiliar Gentle Readers can keep up:

Metamour – one’s partner’s partner, with whom one (typically) doesn’t have a sexual or romantic relationship with oneself. If Sally were dating Jack, and Jack was also dating Ted, but Ted and Sally were just good friends, then Ted and Sally are metamours. Clear? Good. Oh, also everyone should know about everyone else; secret relationships aren’t conducive to honesty or openness.

Metamour

Get the idea? Good.

Now, traditionally when one arranges a seating chart for a dinner party, one would split married couples up so that they’d have someone new to talk to during supper. Non-married couples, of course, weren’t recognized so they weren’t always split up. These days, like the notion of seating guests boy-girl-boy-girl, that’s passé. Nowadays, the key things to bear in mind are

  1. Compatibility – will the people seated near one another want to punch one another? Will they be able to be civil for the length of the meal? Will they actually enjoy one another’s company? Ideally, you’re going for the last one, but in large parties it can be difficult.
  2. Conversational Ability – If Person A. is an active listener but a little shy, put her by Person B. who rambles on and will fill gaps in conversation. If you think Person B. might overwhelm Person A., though, place her by Person C. – who is more talkative than A. but also shy. That sort of thing.

There are other principals, but those are the main ones. As far as our polyamorous friends are concerned, though – if your friend and their partner are primaries, seat them next to one another, with the metamour across the table. If there isn’t a primary paring, put the person who is in a relationship with both metamours in the center.

1928 --- Winning Combination: Zane Grey, author of which Paramount is now filming, with Jack Holt, the featured lead, and Sally Blane, leading lady. The picture was taken on set at the studio when Grey visited there. 1928, directed by John Waters. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Our last etiquette query is anonymous, and has a surprisingly complex answer. Anonymous writes:

ETIQUETTE WHY?

Why? The short answer is because, as a species and a society, we’re stuck with one another – and, as Sartre notoriously pointed out, hell is other people. If we’re forced to be around other people, we should all strive to make the experience just a little less painful. By being patient, respectful, and kind, and by following established standards to express those qualities, we can smooth the friction, at least a little bit. Cheers, Gentle Reader! Any further queries can be left in the comments, or left on the Whimsical Adventures Facebook Page.

 

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About Ty DeLyte

Madame DeLyte has suffered a grave disappointment - YET AGAIN - and still believes that freedom, beauty, and truth are what's valuable, rather than vulgar cash. He'd add love to that list - but, well, what can he say about love?
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5 Responses to On Patients and Polyamory

  1. (Un)Fettered says:

    One might use ‘reproductive health’ in place of ‘people with [body part]’ to be inclusive.

    I love everything about these questions and answers. ♥

  2. Nubstep says:

    I was also thinking “reproductive health”. However, for those who are adverse to their body parts, they may also be adverse to their body parts’ intended functions and might not be receptive to that term either. Why not just “wellness exam” or “well-person exam”? Then, if the patient wants a particular part checked out during said exam, she can be the one to give that part a name/term of her choosing, and the specialist can make a note in that patient’s file. Individualized care, if you will.

  3. ekgo says:

    A well-woman exam is more than just a pap smear and a prodding of the ovaries, which is why it’s not called a uterine exam or even a reproductive health exam.
    It’s a pelvic exam because there’s also focus (or there should be) on the other bodily functions in the pelvis. Bladder health, reproductive organs, lymph nodes, outside pieces around the reproductive organs and sometimes also blood tests. But there’s also an element of the manual breast and armpit node checks, too.
    Wellness exam, while not descriptive of what’s happening, may be the most inclusive term for a pelvic/breast exam.

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