Never Check “Other”

I went to get a baseline bone density test and I fell into a Kafkaesque intake.
First off, I have to admit: I am a crazy person in medical settings. I blame the 6 weeks in the ICU and months in the Beth Israel Hospital I spent as a young woman. Or, my personality. Anyway, I tend to lose it.
Intake forms are always a big challenge. I usually just lie. I have never had a drink, an edible, or more than one sexual partner.
This form innocently asked for my race and I checked “other.”
“What are you?” the tech asked. She was a pleasant person I was about to torture.
“Askenazic Jew.”
“They don’t have that. Can you just say ‘Caucasian’?”
Now that is a pretty rude question. Are we not allowed to self identify here? However, I didn’t need to tell her how Jews couldn’t swim in certain swimming pools or go to social dancing parties when I was growing up. But I did.
However, I’m not just insane. If X-ray Center needs me to be white, I can be white.
“Mark whatever works,” I said.
But now she was confused. It seems she wasn’t checking anything. “Your results can’t estimate your fracture risk now,” she said.
At this point even I was confused. Fracture risk assessment needs race. And I was firmly “Other.” Maybe that is why I check that box–the Jew as Other, the reason for the Holocaust.
But I just left it alone.
Turns out, my bones are normal.
It is the whole me that isn’t.

3 thoughts on “Never Check “Other”

  1. Boxes. Those damn boxes. Our society has a compulsion to box us in. Doesn’t seem to accomplish much other than making people feel left out. On the bright side–glad your bones are ok anyway.

  2. We’ve all got our strategies, right? After checking “Other,” I usually write in “Euro-American” unless it specifically requests “Race.” Then, I write in “Human.”

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