Quick tips for medical providers of transgender patients

The TRANSCARE approach

  • Treat transgender individuals with respect, as you would for all of your patients.
  • Refer to transgender people by the name and pronoun associated with their gender identity.
  • Ask politely how they wish to be addressed if you are unsure about a person's gender identity.
  • Never reveal a person's transgender status, unless it is absolutely necessary for the patient's health care.
  • Set a high standard for inclusive care.
  • Concentrate on care, not curiosity. Example: it is inappropriate to ask about genital status if it is unrelated to care.
  • Avoid negative facial reactions and offensive language.
  • Remember that treating a transgender patient is not always a training opportunity.
  • Educate yourself and others about transgender health care and issues.

Helpful definitions

A term used to classify people typically as female or male, usually based on external anatomy at birth.
Sexual Orientation
A person's sexual identity in relation to the gender(s) to which they are attracted.
Gender Identity
A personal conception of oneself as male or female, both, or neither.
Gender Expression
The external display of gender through name, pronouns, appearance, and behavior.
Transgender (Trans)
A term for people whose gender identity does not coincide with the sex assigned at birth.
A term for people whose gender identity coincides with the sex assigned at birth.
Transgender Man or Trans Man
Terms used for people assigned female at birth, but identify and live as a man.
Transgender Woman or Trans Woman
Terms used for people assigned male at birth, but identify and live as a woman.
An umbrella category for trans persons who do not conform to binary (i.e. women or men) genders. More specific labels may include genderqueer or gender fluid. Non-binary people often use gender neutral pronouns such as they/them/theirs, ze/zir/zirs, or ne/nem/nirs.

How to begin creating a transgender-positive environment

  • Introduce yourself by stating your name and then ask the patient what name they would like to be called.
  • Offer gender-neutral restrooms.
  • Assign patients to hospital rooms based on their self-identified gender, unless they request otherwise.
  • Rewrite intake forms to include chosen name in addition to legal name and include a blank option for gender and preferred pronoun.
  • Utilize the new EPIC preferred name field in the patient ID field, on printed labels, and on the dashboard.
  • Wear a button, pin, or a sticker to indicate that you are an ally to the LGBTQ community.
  • Educate yourself by completing SafeZone training. Consider SafeZone training for your team/unit.
  • Report discriminatory comments and behavior.

Questions or concerns?

  • Consult the University of Iowa LGBTQ clinic for outpatient referrals.
  • If, during your patient's stay, you have concerns about discriminatory behavior or comments your patient might be experiencing, contact the Office of the Patient Experience. This office can also help with room assignment concerns or concerns regarding equal access to care.
  • If you have concerns regarding discriminatory behavior or comments in the workplace, consider these resources:
  • All of these offices have access to the hospital's legal team if needed.

If you are interested in scheduling a short in-service training for your area, please email LGBTQ-TransCare@uiowa.edu.

For additional information and helpful resources, please visit the LGBTQ clinic page.

Last reviewed: 
May 2017

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