Having not sustained a major illness, condition or injury since transitioning, being admitted to a hospital since then was not only a new experience, but also offered me the opportunity to 'rate' a major medical facility in the St Louis area for friendliness to the Transgender Community. I must admit that I had a small fear of issues and went to the ER with a bit of not only reluctance, but also ready to battle.
I went to St John's Mercy Medical Center on New Ballas as it not only is the hospital of my Primary Care Physician but also is owned by the same Sisters of Mercy religious organization that owns the health insurance plan that underwrites my Medicare Advantage plan through my pre-retirement employer. With that in mind, I not only went to a hospital, but also one owned through ties to the Roman Catholic Church.
Basically everthing went smoothly, yet not without anticipating a few pronoun problems. The first three people I dealt with in the ER, to register, to assist me in my mobility and the first level of caregiving , call me with male pronouns. In each case, I immediately responded to the "Sirs" with "Ma'am" and in each case, the party acknowledged that and immeadiately corrected themselves and apologized. Do note, I was wearing a nice, flowered summer dress, so there should not have had been that problem, per se, but I did give them the benefit of the doubt and did not crucify them for their blatant errors.
In my room, I did not have that problem at all. To begin with, they placed me in a private room. My thought was at first, that this was their solution to an issue not knoiwing what to do, or simply because I was in the Heart Hospital section and they do tend to place people by themselves due to the extra level of care and the isolation from catching things from others. One thought though is that they have actually have a 'sensitivity policy' in place and this placement of a transgender person separately is their rule of thumb. One other note that I wish to make is that on the worksheet form for ER treatment, for gender I crossed out "Female" and wrote down and circled "Trans Female," as sort of a 'heads up' to them as how I wished to be treated and handled as female.
All of the nurses, who were (cisgender) female, male, Anglo, African-American, Pacific Islander treated me with respect and as female. There were no questions of my medications, those for my heart issues, for diabetes and my hormone replacement therapy and each were dispensed without question. Privacy issues such as attaching montior electrodes, in which exposure of my breasts was required, was done in decorum and as a matter of medical necessity, ie no gawking or snide looks in any of these ocassions. Any time that I was transported out of my room, I was certain to be covered so that my privacy and dignity was respected.
In conclusion, I found St John's quite friendly and understanding of the transgender patient. There was a moment of confusion by the nun that came into the room expecting to see a cisgender woman, but she recovered admirily and in her quick chat, did not use the moment to chastise or lecture. Yes, there were a couple of quick glances one might suspect unfriendly, but I also saw their quick return to a thought of professionalism within the confines of the hospital, that the purpose of thier mission was to heal and not to hate.
Not having stayed in a hospital after transitioning, before, and considering the dogma behind the organizations running St John's, I definitely will give them a gold star with an additional A+ for effort.
Robyn Carolyn Montague
June 4, 2010