Don't call me a 'he'; Educating the medical community

How often do you review your own medical records?  After working for over 12 years in various medical related fields, I’ve learned to pay careful attention to what is said in my records.  I look for inaccuracies in medications, symptoms and treatments.  I also find out more information that the doctors sometimes don’t offer.  I discovered something that I never expected to find after my most recent emergency room visits and stays at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Illinois, which I thought had gone well in respect to my trans status and I had written about it.

Let me say first that over all I compliment and commend the staff at the hospital for their care and respect for me.  Being a pre-operative transgender individual, especially out here in the suburbs, carries with it some degree of knowing that you will have to explain your status at some point to those who have had little to no experience or knowledge about the trans community. The nursing staff in the E.R. and in the cardic unit at Rush-Copley were tremendous.  I actually was able to have a few very intelligent conversations about being a transgender individual with several of them.

That being said, I was disappointed and insulted to what I saw documented in my medical records by a few doctors at the hospital.

1) On more than one occasion they used male pronouns in reference to me.
patient rec.
2) This example just shows the confusion of the person writing it.  using both male and female pronouns to refer to me is a clear indication the person writing it has no idea of how to refer to me.

3) If the physician feels the need to mention it, the proper way to describe me is a pre-operative transgender female instead of referring to me as a 'genetic male'.

4) One reference referred to me as female/male. That is equivalent to calling me a “he/she”, which way out of line and insulting.

My temper subsided and I calmly and professionally brought my concerns to the attention of the hospital.   Patient Advocate Rosalinda Justiniano sat down with me and took my concerns took heart.  She explained that to the best of her knowledge no other trans individual has ever brought these concerns to light in this hospital.  With so few people asking for copies of their medical records and actually reading it for themselves, I have no doubt that I may be the first transgender person to voice concerns on this matter.

Other instances through out my records, such as the use of the word ‘transgendered’ lend me to believe that what happened to me was the result of lack of proper education.  Ms. Justiniano did mention that the hospital does not have any programs that help in the education of the staff when it comes to the transgender patients.   I was very pleased to hear that she will be attending a conference in the coming months and learning more on how the medical community can properly address trans individuals and their concerns.

I told her that regardless of what is between my legs, I am and should be treated as any other woman they see.  If my insurance and the State of Illinois consider me female, so should the doctors.

Instead of being angry and insulted, I understand that education is needed and truly hope that the hospital will use this and learn from it.  As I have written before, ignorance is not a bad thing, but a person or an institution needs to take examples like this and learn from their mistakes.

I am encouraged by Ms. Justiniano’s willingness to listen to me, learn more about the trans community and work to correct the problem.  I look forward to the possibility of working with her in the future to further the education of the hospital staff.



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    Meggan Sommerville

    Meggan Sommerville is a Christian transgender woman with a heart for educating others about the transgender community and her faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ. Her career life has taken her on a variety of adventures, from being a veterinary technician in the Western burbs of Chicago to being an EMT/Paramedic, EMS instructor, and a paid on call firefighter for Bolingbrook , Illinois. Since 1998, she has been the frame shop manager for a national craft retailer. You can contact Meggan via email at or find her on Facebook at Trans Girl at the Cross

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