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Hospitals around the world have policies and paperwork that are decades behind a modern, scientific understanding of sex and gender. There are a number of ways that intersex and trans people are treated with hostility and disrespect in the medical field. These acts of exclusion stochastically increase the number of patients who feel unsafe going to the doctor, leading to higher rates of illness among trans populations. Doctors lament how their private employers actively prevent trans and intersex people from having a safe environment, which makes treatment more difficult and less likely to happen at all.
Sex and gender could have been distinct concepts in the mainstream medical field in 1955, when John Money and colleagues outlined that distinction in the Johns Hopkins Hospital Bulletin. 7 decades later, medical professionals have chosen not to learn this distinction, medical institutions have chosen not to teach this distinction, and private medical facilities have chosen not to account for this distinction in their policies.
Ruth Ng presents a thorough walkthrough of good and bad form design when it comes to collecting information about gender.
Medical intake forms often do not provide a place for patients to list a chosen name that differs from their legal name. There are many reasons that trans people will not be able to change their name. When you call a trans person by their "legal name" (🤡) instead of their chosen name, you denounce their autonomy, disrespect their identity, and contribute to their misery and their feeling unwelcome.
If you do not explicitly provide a "chosen/preferred name" field, you indicate to patients that you are incapable of providing respectful, appropriate care to transgender people. their medical care will not be respectful of their identity or if you reductively call this name a "nickname" (🤡),
Why can't they change their name?
Some can not afford the possibly-hundreds of dollars required to change it legally and in the various forms of ID required to access basic services essential to life. Others cannot safely come out as trans in public, yet would appreciate the opportunity to be called by their gender-appropriate chosen name under the protection of HIPAA. Even still, people who discover their transgender identity before they reach age of majority lack material autonomy to acquire a legal name change. Children, who are scientifically shown to be capable of knowing they are transgender, are less likely to understand legal processes, less likely to be able to navigate them, less likely to have money for the fees, can be pressured or forced out of following through by parents, and usually do not own vehicles to get to the courthouse where they'll have to present their case to a judge.
Asking for pronouns is another essential step in treating patients with dignity, yet this is absent in any meaningful way from most intake forms.
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