December 2015

Showing Respect for the Transgender Community

Nathan Levitt, BSN, RN, a nurse-practitioner who serves as a community outreach and education nurse with Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York, speaks often to community organizations, schools, and health care organizations about the needs of LGBT people and families. Levitt, who is also a practicing oncology nurse at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Health Center, offers advice about how to ensure that transgender individuals are treated respectfully.

  • Use the name and gender identity of choice when talking to a transgender woman or man, and use pronouns that reflect their gender identity. New “genderqueer” pronouns being developed include “zie/hir” as substitutes for “he/she” and “him/her.” “Genderqueer” people do not identify as male or female.
  • All-gender bathroom facilities should be made available to accommodate transgender women and men.
  • Transgender women and men can exhibit the full range of sexual orientations, unrelated to their gender identities.
  • Be aware that some transgender persons opt to take hormone treatments but refrain from surgery.
  • It’s disrespectful to question transgender men or women about their private parts or about whether they have “transitioned” – which means having undergone gender reassignment surgery (GRS).
  • Transgender persons may still require medical screenings like mammograms, Pap tests, and exams for testicular cancer, according to their birth gender.
  • A number of transgender men opt to become pregnant and carry babies to term, despite their chosen gender identity.

Amida Care co-sponsored Community Healthcare Network’s 5th annual Transgender Health Conference in September at Pace University. Physicians, nurses, and behavioral health professionals gathered to present their latest findings and discuss urgent health issues affecting the transgender community, including the lack of reliable public health data, disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS, and the global epidemic of discrimination and violence.


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