What is abnormal? This book was published in 1964, and its cover illustrates the many misconceptions people hold about those who live an alternative life style. Susan Palwick over at Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good posed the question, “What kind of education do emergency-medical personnel get about gender and sexual identity? If they don’t get any, how can that be changed?”
I was never given any information about or training on handling patients with sexual orientation/gender issues when I was in nursing school. I went to nursing school many years ago, and my school was located in a town where people were routinely wearing white sheets and burning crosses in a public park that was designated for Blacks only. Believe me, no one in that town, or in my school talked about tolerance. I thought things would be different when I graduated from school and moved to a liberal university town, but in 1983 I nearly lost my job for letting a gay man sit at his partner’s bedside after visiting hours. His partner died of AIDS during my shift, and I was suspended for breaking the rules about non-family visitation. I’m not telling you this story because I want you to think I’m a saint, I’m telling you this to illustrate how misconceptions about people can interfere with the delivery of good patient care.
Like Kim from Emergiblog, I have always asked my patients what their needs are, and how I can help meet those needs. There’s nothing magical about taking care of a transgender patient. All you have to do is treat them like everyone else.