Learn About Transgender Day of Visibility


closeup of the palm of the hand of a young caucasian person with a transgender flag painted in it, in front of his or her face

Transgender Day of Visibility, held annually on March 31, honors the achievements of transgender (also referred to as trans) people and draws attention to their ongoing struggles against many forms of social and legal oppression. Healthcare is among the many areas in which trans people are subject to discrimination. As one of the Baltimore area's primary healthcare institutions, LifeBridge Health is committed to supporting trans employees and patients in our community. 


Transgender people in need of medical care are often faced with a difficult choice: seek treatment despite the likelihood of facing discrimination in the process or avoid treatment altogether. Many find the situation traumatic, with their gender questioned, the need to fill out intake forms that do not include gender-diverse options, being denied gender affirming care, being "deadnamed" or addressed by a name they no longer use, and a host of other indignities. A 2020 survey conducted by the Center for American Progress concluded that nearly half of all transgender participants - and 68% percent of transgender participants of color - experienced at least one instance of discrimination by a healthcare provider. 


Education can effectively combat the widespread mistreatment of trans people in medical settings. Sterling Kelley, chair of LifeBridge Health's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, explains that enlightening fellow team members is one of the group's primary objectives. 


"We know that when we go in and people are misgendered...it's a barrier and it could turn someone away when they probably worked themselves up to getting to the doctor," Kelley says. 


For this reason, the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group holds educational events that all LifeBridge Health team members are welcome to attend. These events can help equip staff with the knowledge to treat trans patients and co-workers with dignity and respect. In the past, for instance, the resource group teamed up with local LGBTQ advocates at FreeState Justice to host a "Lunch and Learn" in honor of Trans Day of Visibility. Kelley notes that through educational events, the resource group has learned that in many cases ignorance, rather than malice, was to blame for errors in addressing members of the trans community. "They just did not know. They hadn't been exposed to different pronouns...and being comfortable asking "'What pronouns do you prefer?'"


Beyond the work of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, LifeBridge Health is committed on an organizational level to educating the employee population and ensuring that all members of the LGBTQ community are respected and addressed properly at all facilities. To this end, LifeBridge Health holds several cultural competency trainings throughout the year, which can also be offered at the request of specific departments. As a result of its commitment to improving LGBTQ care, LifeBridge Health's Sinai and Northwest hospitals currently hold the designation of LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Top Performers as part of the Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), a resource which assesses the equity and inclusivity of hospitals nationwide. Still, the HEI survey which led to these designations also helped identify areas in which much work remains to be done towards the creation of a safe, inclusive and affirming environment for trans patients. One such area of focus for the organization is the collection of patient demographic information, a process which currently excludes several crucial identifiers such as sex assigned at birth, current gender identity and pronouns. 


While both the LGBTQ+ resource group and LifeBridge Health leadership continue to seek opportunities to educate team members, it is important to recognize that individuals should pursue information for themselves. For providers, choosing to be proactive can be as simple as reaching out to the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group for recommendations on how to best engage with a transgender patient. In general, cisgender people, whose identity and sex assigned at birth are the same, can better support trans people by taking the initiative to inform themselves about trans issues, but also bear in mind that a failure to understand or relate to that information is not an excuse to misgender someone. Respecting and accepting someone else's gender identity does not require a complete understanding of transness, nor does it require a sense of personal comfort with the idea of transness - it requires only a willingness to acknowledge the humanity and self-determination of a fellow person. 


In honor of Trans Day of Visibility this year, LifeBridge Health's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group is bringing together a panel of representatives from Chase Brexton Health Care and JPride Baltimore on April 22 from 12-1 PM to discuss the challenges faced by trans people and the work being done to support the Baltimore area trans community. All LifeBridge Health employees are welcome and encouraged to attend the panel and can receive access to join by contacting RFinger@Lifebridgehealth.org.


Learn more about LifeBridge Health's commitment to LGTBQ+ healthcare here.