On Health and Privacy

Just because I swallow a pill in your presence doesn’t mean that my health is suddenly any of your business. You don’t get to ask me what I took, or why I took it, or what medical conditions do I have that make me need to take it. You don’t get to ask me how often do I take that particular medicine or how strong is it. And you most certainly do not get to become offended when I tell you that’s personal information instead of answering your invasive questions.

This is a situation that arose for me last night. My volunteer supervisor asked me these questions. In this case, it was a mild NSAID – certainly nothing that affected my ability to do my job or was dangerous for anyone. I suppose you could argue that he didn’t know that, but that doesn’t change the facts: Whether or not I tell anyone – and who I tell, and how much detail I give – is my decision entirely. As a casual acquaintance whose name I cannot even reliably remember (and who cannot reliably remember mine, either), he had no business even considering asking these questions. But wait, that implies that someone does!

Yes, a few people have the right to ask me these questions, but it is a right that I gave to them. My healthcare providers. My mother, who is my medical emergency contact, supplies my health insurance, and pays the bulk of my healthcare bills. My queerplatonic partner, who is my primary emergency contact, not to mention my partner and an important part of many of my major decisions.

But the list ends there, so if you’re not on it, keep your curiosities to yourself. It’s one thing to express concern if you have reason to believe I have taken something unsafe. Beyond that? I am not your museum exhibit.


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