Monday, August 2, 2010

Trans Woman Denied Medical Treatment

Erin Vaught, a transsexual woman, went to an Indiana hospital coughing up blood. However, instead of being treated for her very scary symptom, she was dehumanized by the hospital staff and was refused treatment.

The first sign of discrimination occurred when Vaught was entered into the hospital computer system as male despite the fact that her ID said female. When Erin pointed out the error, a staff member laughed at her. Later, in the exam room, she was called “he-she,” “it,” and “transvestite.”

If all this humiliation weren’t enough to endure for a woman who was coughing up blood, she was then denied treatment because of her “condition.”

"I was confused," Vaught said. "I told them I didn't know my condition, that's why I was there. She said 'No, the transvestite thing.' She said I couldn't see a doctor until I came back with test orders from my doctor in Indy."

Advocacy groups have since filed complaints with the hospital and a spokesman for the hospital said the incident is being investigated.

Unfortunately, being treated poorly by the medical community is not that unusual for transgendered folks. Part of it is due to blatant bigotry, as was the case for Vaught. However, some of it is just ignorance of how to treat transgendered individuals. Joanne Herman recently wrote an article for The Huffington Post, detailing just some of areas of the health community that remain ignorant about trans issues. Therapists and surgeons, two groups that should be especially well equipped to deal with trans issues, are sadly ignorant of the needs of the trans community. Those who are experts in trans issues usually learn on the job since there is little training in school about trans needs.

The plight of Erin Vaught is yet another example of how trans people are overwhelmingly mistreated by the medical community. To tell the hospital that mistreated her that disrespecting patients because of their gender is not okay, use the contact information

1 comment:

Amelia said...

The thing that bothers me the most is how trans people are viewed as alarmingly not-human. While trans people do indeed have medical and other issues that are particular to their situations, they are not so alien as to be treated in this way. Like, if a trans woman has a cold, she could (if she chose) treat it with the exact same cold medicine that I keep in my cabinet.

It's as if the fact that someone does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth somehow causes certain medical "professionals" to suddenly forget everything they ever knew about treating patients.

Really? What is that? Ugh.