March 01, 2017

Respecting Gender Identity in Healthcare: Regulatory Requirements and Recommendations for Treating Transgender Patients

Katherine Steuer and Kaleigh Davis

Reprinted with updated information with permission from The Health Lawyer, February 2017 (29:3), at 1, 3–9. Copyright © 2017 American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

A woman presents to a healthcare provider, giving a female name. She shows a drivers’ license that indicates her gender is “male.” Some staff understand that this is a transgender female, but they ask each other which name and gender pronouns they should use when talking to or about the patient, whether they should put the legal male name or the preferred female name in the patient’s medical record or on the arm band, whether they can ask the patient her biological sex if relevant to her diagnosis and treatment, and how to refer to the patient in the medical record so that future readers do not think the providers charted about a different patient in this patient’s chart. Staff’s discomfort shows and the patient then feels uncomfortable and obligated to reassure staff.

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