UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Misc

Title: Care for Transgender and Gender Diverse Patients

Keywords: DEI, transgender, gender nonbinary, gender diverse (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/17/2023 by Kevin Semelrath, MD
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While transgender and gender diverse individuals make up a minority of the US population (approx 1.4 million individuals), they are unfortunately the victim of a large amount of discrimination in our society.  A seemingly overwhelming number of laws are being passed this year specifically targeting this group, including how they can access health care. As emergency physicians, it is our duty to not only understand and care for these patients with excellent and compassionate care, but advocate for them in places of power.

This is a qualitative study that looked at the experiences of transgender and gender nonbinary (TGN) patients seeking care in EDs in Arkansas.  They researchers performed structured interviews with 9 TGN patients who had received care in various EDs in the state.  It identified several themes in their experiences:

 1. Systems and structural issues- these included the patients' legal document and EHR gender prounouns not matching their gender identity, intake forms not having a place for patients' pronouns and chosen name, and confidentiality issues when calling patients from the waiting room using their deadname

2. Interactions with clinical staff- while many of the patients did have some positive interactions with the ED staff, there were several significant issues identified.  Patients experienced misgendering, either intentional or unintentional, as well as inappropriate questions about patient anatomy that was not related to the presenting complaint, and other harmful behavior such as being stared out by staff, and delays or refusal of care

3. Perceptions of clinical knowledge- many of the subjects reported having to educate the ED clinicans regarding transgender health care issues. This influenced their desire to return for care to those EDs


We are all responsible for treating all of our patients with dignity and respect, even if we don't fully understand their own journey. And remember pride started as a riot and became a revolution!



Allison MK, Marshall SA, Stewart G, Joiner M, Nash C, Stewart MK. Experiences of Transgender and Gender Nonbinary Patients in the Emergency Department and Recommendations for Health Care Policy, Education, and Practice. J Emerg Med. 2021 Oct;61(4):396-405. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2021.04.013. Epub 2021 Jun 25. PMID: 34176685; PMCID: PMC8627922.