Responsible hospitals are training staff to ensure that transgender patients receive equal care. The "assume nothing" mantra is working for one Massachusetts hospital.
Sue Boisvert, a risk management professional from Maine, never expected the "important news" her daughter had to share after her first semester in college was that she had begun the transition to become male.
Within a year, Sue's child had legally changed his name, began taking testosterone, and had his birth certificate, driver's license, and insurance updated to reflect his male gender identity. As a supportive parent, Boisvert accompanied her son, who had taken the name Emile, to his medical appointments.
While most healthcare providers treated Emile with respect, the Boisverts soon realized they couldn't take professionalism for granted.
When Emile contracted a urinary tract infection and had to seek urgent care at a local clinic, he told the nurse completing his registration that he was taking testosterone. The nurse made "very inappropriate comments," clicked her tongue, and rolled her eyes, says Boisvert. "It was very hurtful to us."
But this experience is not uncommon for transgender people seeking care.
An estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States identify as transgender and they face discrimination regularly. In 2015, one in five transgender people reported postponing or skipping healthcare in the last year due to fear of discrimination.
"Transgender individuals are often subjected to what's called 'microaggressions,' " says Boisvert.
Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.