Background Checks and Protecting Your Privacy

  1. Hi everyone,

    I am getting ready to begin prerequisites for an ADN program and was a bit concerned about the background checks. No I have never committed a felony so it's not the criminal background check I'm concerned with. I guess I am worried about things from my past being dug up and becoming "public records" after passing the NCLEX. Or even being denied a license because of this.

    I'm so uncomfortable about this possibly happening that I'm afraid to even discuss it anonymously on this board, but for clarity's sake I will do so.

    Okay deep breath. I am a woman who overcame transsexualism. Meaning I once lived as a "boy" but have long completed all the medical, psychiatric, hormonal, and surgical treatments involved in this process. Every vital record has long since been changed and I am legally female. During this process I encountered just about every obstacle a human being could face. Most of my family abandoned me, I lost my job, was physically threatened, publicly humiliated, discriminated against, you name it. Just because people were either ignorant or insensitive about my condition. I finished my transition and began to move on with my life. I made new friends, began dating, started a new job where no one knew my past and life was grand! Well then I decided I could trust a few of my new friends or dates with my "past" but I soon found out that many who liked me when they didn't know, rejected me when they found out. Once again I became a curiosity, or worse. So I learn from this mistake and move on with my life vowing to never tell another soul. Not employers, not co-workers, not new friends, not even boyfriends. I fear if anyone finds out I will once again be rejected, treated as a freak, or worse. It's a sad reality I face so I choose to remain silent. Well except for this post!

    So now that I have thoroughly embarrassed myself, back to the background check question. Will they check court records for name changes? Do they ask if you have worked under another name? (My work records, school transcripts, etc have been changed). What about this condition unfortunately being listed in the DSM? When I first researched my condition in High School I was devestated when I found it in the DSM, and even moreso when it was linked to some really icky stuff. It was humiliating to go through some of the psychiatric testing I did, but I guess it was necessary to rule out other "disorders". Thank goodness this is all past me now, but I do fear that it somehow may resurface if I follow my dream. I am smart, articulate, hard-working, sensitive, caring--all the qualities that make a good nurse--but I worry that my "past" may continue to haunt me. I'm enjoying my peaceful, normal life and don't want to be branded again. Am I being overly paranoid here?

    Thanks for listening to my rant!
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  2. 30 Comments

  3. by   lvn2004
    Happy03,

    I am sorry to hear of the way you were treated in the past. This is truly sad. If these people were "truly" your friend then it wouldn't matter who you were or what you did in the past. I am sure you know that though.

    When I submitted my background check, one of the questions on the form I submitted was "Have you used any other names before? ie:maiden name, nickname. I'm not sure if they go through the courts to find out name changes, though. I really don't think you will have a problem with getting in and passing the check. As long as you haven't committed any crime, which you stated you haven't, then there shouldn't be a problem.

    I hope this helps
  4. by   Rapheal
    I do not feel that you should feel "embarassed". You have not committed any crime. And yes this will be a concern for some employers because people are people who have their own opinions and predjudices. With that said I would not have any problem working with someone who has undergone a gender change. The most important thing is be truthful on the application. IMHO you should also be truthful and perhaps disclose your past as soon as possible when you start working. Some people will be jerks, but others will not. If you disclose this from the start then people will not feel that you have been hiding something.

    Yes, I know that you should not HAVE to disclose your past. But if you don't and they find out some people will justify treating you badly because they will think you were not honest with them Not fair but some people will do this. Truthfully, somebody's gender, gender change, or sexual orientation does not move me either way. It never has, I just don't care, it is not significant to me. What is significant to me is how they treat me and treat patients. If they are ok on that level then they are ok with me.

    Of course this is just my opinion so take it for what it's worth. I wish you the best of luck in the future. You made a decision in your life about how you wanted to live your life and should not feel embarassed, or be subject to ridicule. Years ago I lost my friends and family when I chose to get divorced. I mourned the loss of those relationships. Over time I made GOOD friends with DECENT people who are loving and not full of self rightousness. These friends are the family I choose for myself. I am truly blessed.

    Sorry this post is so long but your situation tugged on my heart and I wanted to give you some support. Hope everything turns out well. Keep moving forward and never look back. Beth
  5. by   traumaRUs
    Wow - I think it is wonderful you're going to be a nurse!! Congrats! I don't know much about this topic. However, perhaps consulting a lawyer would give you some piece of mind.
  6. by   mattsmom81
    When I apply for jobs I am always asked for different names and different addresses as part of the background check. After that is cleared, then the medical questions start...surgeries, etc...in employee health. Your medical history SHOULD be used only to evaluate your capability to do the job, but in the real world we know it is used for other things...like eliminating someone from selection.

    I agree with TraumaRUs, you may wish to consult with an attorney to find out how to protect your rights, what you must disclose, etc.

    Good luck to you.
  7. by   debralynn
    I am so sorry for the hurt you have felt. I don't have any answers for you on your background check, but wanted to wish you great luck in the future. Like the other replies, I wouldn't have any problems being your friend, I am just sorry some people have let you down in the past. Welcome to the world of nursing!!!
  8. by   happy03
    Thanks everyone for the input and support! My last background check wasn't really a problem--they basically did a criminal check and called my previous two employers to verify employment. They did ask if I had worked under any other names the previous ten years and I said no--simply because the last employer I did work for under my previous name had changed my records to new name. But I imagine the background check here may be more thorough and that is why I am concerned. But I do understand why it is a necessity. I mean we are dealing with people's lives so you obviously don't want anyone unstable or with substance abuse problems dealing with patients.

    I may consult with a lawyer or program administrators to see if this may be an issue. I will be open with them, but I will request that this information remain confidential while I am in school and later with employers.


    Originally posted by Rapheal
    I do not feel that you should feel "embarassed". You have not committed any crime. And yes this will be a concern for some employers because people are people who have their own opinions and predjudices. With that said I would not have any problem working with someone who has undergone a gender change. The most important thing is be truthful on the application. IMHO you should also be truthful and perhaps disclose your past as soon as possible when you start working. Some people will be jerks, but others will not. If you disclose this from the start then people will not feel that you have been hiding something.

    You are right I shouldn't feel embarrassed. I'm not ashamed of who I am and I'm quite happy with where my life is headed. However I am not one who seeks attention, and it is very difficult living under a microscope. It's not fun being constantly scrutinized, having people talk behind my back, having my morality questioned (I have pretty high morals), or worse. This really divided my family, and it was devestating to be in the middle while family members chose sides. My extended family used to always get together every other Christmas, and the first year after my change caused such an upheaval that in the name of harmony I decided to never again attend a family gathering. It hurts as I love my family, even those who no longer love me; but I would rather the rest remain together rather than causing so much friction. I'm not that selfish. I've also had similar experiences with friends and co-workers who knew. I was invited to a Baby Shower and my possible presence upset some women so much they vowed not to attend if I did. So once again I vowed out. Situations like this is why I would rather not broadcast this information in the future. There are only about 25,000 women in the US who have gone through what I have, so we are a very small minority. The only ones you generally hear about are kind of freakish or unstable. The Jerry Springer crowd! What sane individual would be on that show? So because of the ignorance, or prejudice, most women like me are very careful who we tell. It's hard to lead a normal life otherwise.

    Thanks again for your support! I will try to investigate this a bit more before I invest too much time and money. As I said it has no bearing on how I will perform; in fact it has probably made me a more compassionate and sympathetic person. Don't laugh, but I am very much interested in Psychiatric Nursing. There are so many vulnerable teens and young adults who can be helped before issues overwhelm them and they completely spiral downward. It almost happened to me, so I think I could really do well in this area.
  9. by   BadBird
    {{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}, hold you head up high and be proud of the person you are today, the only ones who should be embarassed are the ignorant A holes that would try to cause you pain. I believe that all applications ask if you worked under another name, I think consulting a lawyer may be helpful in that matter. Good luck with school.
  10. by   ktwlpn
    I admire you and the courage it took for you to change-and shame on your family and those friends that did not embrace you.Our country is so wacked out about all things even vaguely sexual-it's a darn shame that things like trangender and ambiguous genitalia are viewed as suspect.But I am not really surprised-my "born again" bro in law and his wife stopped watching ER when the gay doc came out.....The advice you are being given about consulting a lawyer sounds good to me...I don't know if I would have the courage to be open about my past-but do you really want to be friends with the type of people that would not accept you? That's the decision you have to make-and really-what's to tell? You are NOW who you were always meant to be-you were born a man by mistake.....We debated this subject on another board awhile ago-patients have the right to be taken care of the sex of nurse that they prefer (I am not going to open that can of worms on this thread now. ) So do you let your past become common knowledge in your community and at your workplace? And let the patients decide if they are comfortable with you? Keep us posted-and good luck
  11. by   iamme457
    I cant remember any jobs where I had to sign a form saying I was born female, am still female and plan to remain female and am heterosexual. Yes I am usually asked to check a box saying if I am male or female but that is it so I don't see where you would need to disclose this legally. It won't interfere in your ability to do your job, both sexes can be nurses, It won't interfere in your interaction with patients, docs, ancillary staff and co-workers so it isn't an issue in my opinion.
    My first nursing job was at a facility that did sex change operations and the patients all seemed OK to me except for having had surgery and needing post-op care.
    With your past experiences and the way you were treated by others, you will very likely be able to empathize with your patients no matter what their medical and/or emotional issues and be a wonderful patient advocate in your new career.
    Good luck and do get some legal advice so you don't run into problems.
  12. by   jnette
    I have often wondered how horribly painful it must feel to be trapped in a body you are not comfortable with.. and to KNOW beyond knowing that you should have been the the other sex. Ppl can really be jerks.. it's not just little kids who can be brutal in their hurting... sadly, so can we "adults".

    I wish you well in persuing your goals and your dreams. I wish for you a life filled with peace, love, and acceptance.
  13. by   happy03
    I admire you and the courage it took for you to change-and shame on your family and those friends that did not embrace you.Our country is so wacked out about all things even vaguely sexual-it's a darn shame that things like trangender and ambiguous genitalia are viewed as suspect.But I am not really surprised-my "born again" bro in law and his wife stopped watching ER when the gay doc came out.....
    Thank You! Yes our country is somewhat whacked on a lot of issues. However a common misconception is that this is some type of sexual condition. It's about gender, not sex. The media and even some in the medical community want to sexualize this, but from my experience, and others I've met, it has nothing to do with sex. For some unknown reason somebody created the umbrella term "transgendered" hoping to sweep a disparate group of individuals under one convenient label. They may profess a certain gender duality, but their core identity coincides with their birth sex. Those like myself don't have a dual gender identity which is why we undergo this arduous and expensive treatment to eliminate those physical markings that contrast with our brain sex. Obviously their are certain limitations to this treatment, but we do what we can so everything can be balanced, so our social interactions can be harmonized. I guess my concerns on the background check are based on fears, just or unjust, that this balance will be disrupted. I know that sounds pretty out there!

    Born Again BIL? Well most of my family is conservative and some are very religious. And my friends/co-workers, past or present run the gamut of conservative/liberal, straight/gay, Christian/Non-Christian, young/old. You would think it would be easy to determine who might be accepting and who might not, but I've learned you can't use this criteria to judge how people may react. Yes I've had some fundamental Christians give me a difficult time, but I've also had some as my strongest allies. One gay ex-friend of mine reacted worse than just about anyone. Some very liberal friends also reacted badly. I've found that those who understand this was about gender identity, not sex are very accepting. Those who try to sexualize it, or make it into some lifestyle choice react negatively. I'm sure anyone who reads this post who is in the second group would react this way regardless of whether they knew as soon as the met me, or found out months later. I can't control people's attitudes, but I do have some power regarding the information I choose to reveal, or not reveal.

    I have often wondered how horribly painful it must feel to be trapped in a body you are not comfortable with.
    It was very painful, maybe even moreso as a child as I tried to go one way only to be pushed the other way. Feminine actions were punished and masculine actions enforced. What may be considered cute behavior at age 3 was a cause for alarm at age 6. Neighborhood boys and the kids at my schools showed me no mercy simply because I was different from them. Being bullied and beaten up was a regular occurence from age 5-16. That's just the tip of the iceberg! Honestly I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I did what I needed to do to survive and be happy.

    I guess my next step is setting up some consultations. Hopefully this won't be an issue at all.
  14. by   P_RN
    I wish you happiness in your new life. Congratulations on doing what was right for you.

    One question about your name, do you have a completely new name now or is it a variation of your birth name?

    I've calways called myself one name, Mama calls me another, Daddy called me another, my two sisters yet another. I've been P, PC, PK, Pat and a number of others. That's what I'd put if pushed into naming other names I'd worked under. The truth, all of it.

    Best wishes in your new life. Keep us posted here. And welcome to the board.

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