Under ordinances enacted earlier this year by the State of California, it constitutes a crime to treat another as different from their stated identity
Oakland, November 29 – Bay Area physicians will not be allowed to discuss with, let alone offer remedies to, a severely overweight San Jose man who claims to identify as a person of the proper weight for his height, local practitioners are reporting.
Mental health authorities barred doctors from treating Leo Beese, 36, for his weight, because California law prohibits discrimination on any grounds, including discrimination against those who identify as different from their outward appearance. Beese, who works from home in online customer support for an internet provider, stands five-foot-eight and weights 275 pounds, but has insisted since adolescence that he views himself as six-foot-two, 220 pounds.
Under ordinances enacted earlier this year by the State of California, it constitutes a crime to treat another as different from their stated identity. The impetus for the law came from mental health and civil rights activists’ desire to protect transgender and other non-cisgender people from being subject to denial of their internal reality and the humiliating treatment that often entails, but grew, through the legislative process, to encompass all types of discrepancies between external appearances and internal identity.
“As his primary-care physician, I am bound to respect those ordinances,” explained internal medicine specialist Dr. Sol Lipsiszt, referring to Mr. Beese. “For thin-normative patients, I can typically recommend any number of regimens, chief among them a lifetstyle shift involving diet and exercise, and, in severe cases, a move toward aggressive intervention in the form of surgery. But state law warns us that a person who appears to display the outward signs of obesity – rolls of excess adipose tissue; knee and hip problems from bearing weight at awkward angles because the thighs are so thick that the patient must walk with legs more open than is typical; heart disease; circulation problems; elevated risk of diabetes – might not wish to identify as obese, and the patient’s autonomy and identity come first under state law.”
Dr. Lipsiszt noted that under the same set of statutes, last month he was forced to remove from his patient rolls a woman who identified as a unicorn. “I referred her to a veterinarian,” he recalled. “But I guess I have it easy, complying with the new law. I do not envy my colleagues at the medical insurance companies who have to contend with issues of coverage and denial of coverage over these things.”
“I understand the new Congressional health care bill is supposed to sort this kind of thing out,” he added with a touch of sarcasm.
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