Erin Vaught made a trip to the emergency room at Ball Memorial Hospital in Central Indiana on July 18th. She came in coughing up blood and was expecting treatment for a lung condition.
Instead of receiving appropriate medical treatment, Vaught was subject to ridiculing by hospital staff and was denied treatment, all because she’s transgender.
When Vaught signed in to the ER with her wife and son, she was entered into the hospital computer system as a male. When she pointed out that she has a female ID, people working at the hospital snickered at her instead of changing her gender in the computer system.
Next, she was taken to an exam room, where the transphobic behavior only got worse. A nurse asked her partner, “So is it a he or a she? Or a he-she?” Vaught was also referred to as “it” and a “transvestite.”
Unfortunately, the inappropriate remarks were not Vaught’s only complaint. After a two-hour wait, a doctor told Vaught that she couldn’t treat her due to her condition. When Vaught replied that she was at the hospital because she didn’t know the condition causing her to cough up blood, the doctor replied that she meant that she couldn’t treat her because of her transgender condition.
Want to ask the hospital why they treated this patient so badly, and what they plan on doing to make sure another LGBT patient doesn’t get treated the same? Send Ball Memorial Hospital a message right now, letting them know that hospitals are there to provide for and treat all patients, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Since the mistreatment, Vaught and other advocates have posted on the Ball Memorial Hospital Facebook page asking about the hospital policy for treating transgender patients, and inquiring whether the hospital has a sensitivity course for employees. Eventually, hospital president Michael E. Haley responded that the hospital is “committed to providing care with respect, dignity and courtesy” and specified that the policy would apply to transgender people.
Haley’s statement is not enough. A doctor’s job is to help the patient, not to disrespect them. Vaught’s condition was unrelated to her gender, and the doctor was acting unprofessionally to refuse treatment due to the doctor’s prejudices against transgender people.
Ball Memorial Hospital should step up and require all staff to complete diversity training with emphasis on LGBT sensitivity. Hospital staff need to understand how to deal with LGBT patients so that future patients aren’t wrongly denied treatment. Hospitals are supposed to care for all of their patients, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Simply put, Ball Memorial Hospital needs to do better.
Photo credit: Rosser321