A TikTok creator has used her platform to share her experience of medical racism at a Washington, D.C. hospital in videos that have garnered a combined 185,800 views on the app.
TikToker @cocoapebbles, a Black trans woman whose name is Dezi, shared videos from her hospital bed. The first video is captioned, “Being treated like a drug addict, when you have NO prior history of drug abuse, just black skin, is insane.“
“Medical racism is a real thing,” she says in the video. “I’ve been dealing with it for the past week since I’ve been at Medstar Washington Hospital. So watch me tell some people off.”
She then begins speaking to a nurse, who asks her what is going on.
“I am just over the treatment at this hospital and how I’ve been treated since I’ve been here,” Dezi says. “Literally since the day I got here, people have been treating me like fucking a drug addict. I’m not a drug addict. I’m in pain. I don’t know why I’m being policed over [pain medication] but it’s bullshit and it’s medical racism and I will shout from the mountain tops about what’s been happening to me.”
“The first three days I got here, people were giving me Tylenol,” she says. “Tylenol for a GSR surgery. For genital confirmation surgery. I am in so much pain right now. And every time I ask for medicine, people act as if I’m some drug addict, and I’m over it, because I’m not a drug addict. I think the only reason people are acting this way is because I’m Black. It’s fucked up.”
The hospital staff member then says she will look at her chart to see what type of medication she needs, but @cocoapebbles tells her the name of the medicine she needs to no longer be in pain.
Commenters on the video wrote their support for Dezi, pointing out the pitfalls of the hospital’s response to her.
“You had confirmation surgery and they gave you TYLENOL?” one commenter wrote. “Yea I would have been screaming at someone too. That is completely unacceptable.”
In her follow-up video, Dezi asserted that she knows white trans women who have gotten their own morphine drips to control after surgery.
“It’s ridiculous that I’ve had to fight just so I can not feel pain,” she says in the follow-up. “And if the color of my skin was different, I would be chillin’. My pain would be managed.”
She asked that her followers put her in touch with anyone they know that works for the hospital system. She also stated that she told hospital staff which medications she is allergic to and which worked well for her after past surgeries. However, she says they didn’t take her notes into account.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Dezi via Instagram DM, as well as the Medstar Washington Hospital Center regarding the videos.
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*First Published: Sep 25, 2021, 1:00 pm CDT
Brooke Sjoberg is an editorial intern for the Daily Dot studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also the Daily Texan’s Life and Arts Editor and an editorial intern for Texas Connect magazine.