A Patient Blogpost by Asher, Vascular Cures Patient Partner :
Have you ever been called the wrong name or been mistakenly labeled as the opposite sex? If so, you can understand the uncomfortable, awkward feelings of disrespect and ignorance that affect your identity. For the past 30 years I have been identifying as a female. About 10 months ago my partner helped me realize that I identify as non-binary (meaning I am neither male nor female, I identify with both).
I always knew something was missing and that to live being my true self would be confusing for my family and friends. When I finally gained the strength, I told the most important people in my life first and then decided to create a Facebook post in order to reach out to everyone. In October 2021, I had to have a routine procedure done at the hospital and kindly asked the intake nurse on the phone if she could call me by my preferred name, Asher. She responded with “I’m sorry I cannot call you that, we have to call you by your legal given name.”
In that moment I froze and didn’t know how to deal with this kind of discrimination that I had never faced before.
My partner and I asked her multiple times to please call me the correct name, telling her that my legal information can be used however, while on the phone she can have respect and at least call me by my preferred name. She continued to refuse to call me by my preferred name and after some time of us asking her the anger inside me turned into sadness and made me again feel like I couldn’t live the true life I knew was mine.
As one of the most sensitive people I know I just wanted to get off the phone and cancel all appointments/procedures, I had with this specific hospital. To make things worse, my partner and I were on a road trip visiting multiple National Parks having the time of our lives and this incident will remain in my memories forever.
It negatively affected the way I present myself and how uncomfortable I still feel telling people that I am non-binary, wondering if they will snub my name or completely dismiss me.
After I got off the phone, I made a call to a transgender family friend who told me that they had to call me by my preferred name but use my legal name for legal paperwork, which is exactly what we were hoping for. We called around and dug deep to find out the contact information for the Senior Administrative Director, Quality and Patient Safety. She was able to very clearly let us know that everyone goes through training and this incident should have never happened. She apologized numerous times and changed my information in the system adding notes so that everyone who accessed my file used my name correctly. To respect gender identity, most hospitals train their staff on asking people during intake if they have a preferred name to be identified correctly.
The seriousness of the situation according to Director of Quality and Patient Safety gave me lots of hope that this would never happen to anyone else, but still people in the LGBTQ community face this kind of scrutiny every day and are enormously affected by it, just like I am. I hope this never happens to anyone, even though some aspects of our society do not make it easy to correctly identify who you really are inside. I am hoping my story will help others in the LGBTQ community feel more comfortable talking to their providers than I did.
To learn more about rights of LGBTQ+ patients, visit: https://healthcarebillofrights.org
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