Transgender Nurses - experiences/opinions

Posted
by Kaley1 Kaley1 Member

Hi,

Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully providing your input. I am new to this site, and nursing. I have passed my nursing program and will be taking the nclex this summer. Unfortunately, I am at another more confusing/vital crossroad in my life where I need to decide whether I have the courage to be who I always felt I was or resign myself to living out my life in the manner that my family and society thinks that I should. Sadly, right now, all I can see is a great deal of emotional pain with either path I choose.

I was hoping that some of you might have experience either as a person transitioning or as the co-worker of someone who has transitioned while they were working at a hospital. I am particularly interested in male to female experiences since that is my potential situation and also because it so commonly elicits a much stronger negative reaction than female to male. How did the hospital, staff and patients react? How supportive or unsupportive were they?

For those of you that do not have any direct experience, how do you think that you and your team would feel about it if it was one of yours that came out and began transitioning? How would you like the person to go about things to make you feel more comfortable with it? I am looking for a realistic picture, not just reassurances. I really want to know the truth as transitioning while in a job seems like the scariest thing next to explaining this to my religious parents.

Pangea Reunited, ASN, RN

Has 6 years experience. 1,547 Posts

A transition would definitely be "front page news" and gossiped about a lot, but I think most of the people I work with would be accepting and supportive. As for patients, it's hard for me to imagine how that would be an issue. As nurses, we make things about the patient and don't go into detail about our personal lives.

I've never worked with a transitioning nurse, but my best guess comes from transgender patients and the attitudes I've observed towards them from my co-workers.

jadelpn, LPN, EMT-B

51 Articles; 4,800 Posts

I think it depends on the culture of the unit to which you are seeking to work. I am all for being who you are. And I also find my co-workers and manager very open to any nurse who practices well. Regardless of gender identification.

In my practice, I am a huge advocate. Have taken hours of certifications to be able to be in a place where I can educate youth on gender issues. To have someone who is on the "front lines" can only be a good thing--and I believe that many, many facilities are seeing this and embracing differences and diversity as a pro to the overall culture of units.

And this is a different time. Most (and I suppose it depends on where one is in the world) are so savvy about alternates in who someone is, I am not sure it would be an issue.

Best wishes to you!

PnutButterJelly

PnutButterJelly

46 Posts

A nurse practitioner made this transition while working for my company. It went well from everything I know. Her patients were slightly thrown off, but nothing negative was ever said to her that I know of. That being said, she did move out of state later because she thought it would be easier to start over in a place that no one ever knew her history.

classicdame

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator. 2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

I bleieve your anxiety is all internal. Surely your surgeon has a counselor's name as transgender patients sometimes need counseling. Do what makes your LIFE work, then worry about the job later. If it does not work, and many don't for lots of reasons not related to gender, then go work elsewhere. I work with one transgender person but until I saw your question I had forgotten about him being transgender. He is in the right place now.

ChristineN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric/Adolescent, Med-Surg. 3,464 Posts

I bleieve your anxiety is all internal. Surely your surgeon has a counselor's name as transgender patients sometimes need counseling. Do what makes your LIFE work' date=' then worry about the job later. If it does not work, and many don't for lots of reasons not related to gender, then go work elsewhere. I work with one transgender person but until I saw your question I had forgotten about him being transgender. He is in the right place now.[/quote']

A good surgeon or endocrinologist should require counseling before they start treatment.

Kaley1

Kaley1

38 Posts

Thank you all so much for your responses! It really helps to hear your thoughts as there are very few people I can speak openly with about this, and none currently in the field. Yeah, I fully expect and understand that this would become "front page" news. It is very different and new to so many people, I can't expect them to understand it or accept it Immediately. I would just hope that over time they would focus on what is in my heart and that the transgender thing would fade into the background. It is very comforting to hear that it has happened, and that it does seem to become an afterthought with time. I guess my biggest fear is that I would give up everything to move to another state with a new job, and then I would be forced to work in a toxic environment or leave and face unemployment.

In an ideal world, I would transition before I entered the field so no one even saw me as who I was before, but with the competitive new grad job market, I don't want to give employers an easy reason to toss my application. I feel like I need to get my foot in the door at a place that I feel comfortable, establish my competency, value and work ethic as a nurse and then just pray that people will be fair in the end.

Kaley1

Kaley1

38 Posts

Yeah, I am not that far along. I am just in counseling at the moment trying to decide if I have the courage to deal with what a transition would mean for me. No surgeons for me yet, just counseling.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 42 years experience. 4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

I think that is the best plan. Get your reputation and experience. I ahve not worked with any transitioned nurses but I worked with a Cardiovascular Surgeon who did and it was very public at a large medical center. The staff were fine with it and so were the patients that I know of...I never heard a patient not want that MD. However I live in MA and they are progressive about these things. Where you live might have a larger impact so I would navigate to those states.

I never had an issue with her and I think once transitioned she was a better physician living her true self.

bsyrn, ASN, RN

Specializes in Peds, School Nurse, clinical instructor. Has 23 years experience. 810 Posts

Honestly, it would not bother me at all. Most of the people I work with are pretty open minded but there probably will be a few eyebrows raised. Who cares what other people think, you need to be happy. Live and let live :)

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience. 9,051 Posts

My advice?? As a new grad, just landing that first job is enough of a challenge. Don't offer up any information that could have a potentially negative impact on your job offer. Keep everything on the down-low at work, in order to give yourself a good start. Be very choosy about sharing your personal information with anyone at work. Continue with your counseling and making life changes as you see fit.

When the time comes to make visible changes, you will need to come out at work. Be prepared to change jobs if it is not received well because you don't need to feel unsafe or any added stress at such a vulnerable time of your life. It may be best just to change jobs and start fresh in another place.

Wishing you all the best & hoping you have a wonderful support network as you move forward.

BluegrassRN

BluegrassRN

Has 14 years experience. 1,188 Posts

You will probably get some unfortunate responses, but for the most part, if your work environment isn't incredibly toxic, I think you'll find that most people won't be phased. Even here in the midwest, we are getting more and more transgender pts. My child is trans; once we went public with this, I of course discussed it at work (in my hospital, pretty much everyone is friends and very open about their lives. It's a small community). I have fielded very honest questions, but not one person has said anything negative to my face. Several people (some of whom I would not necessarily have expected, given their religion and politics) have gone out of their way to show their support. I work in a small community hospital, in a smaller town that is flanked by two cities. This is probably a more liberal part of the state, but it's still a midwestern town. It's actually made me realize how good people are at heart.

I think today's trans/gender fluid is the previous generation's gay. The more people have a face, personality, and personal connection to put with something "strange" "weird" or "unnatural", the more they realize that those adjectives are inaccurate and unnecessary, and a trans person becomes just like any other person. If you are the only trans person in your workplace, you will be spokesperson and educator for the community at large, whether you want to wear that hat or not. I think that is simply the reality of the situation. I hope you don't shrink from that, because the next time they encounter someone who is trans, it will be a simple shrug of the shoulders and a an "Oh, like Kaley". Also, people *want* to be helpful and do the right thing by you. You will need to be very specific when you transition: "Because I am a man, I will now go by the name Kevin, and when you refer to me, it should be by male pronouns. I will be using the male bathrooms/locker rooms. I welcome any honest questions, in the appropriate time and place. This has been a rough road for me, and I thank you all for the support." You give as much info as you feel comfortable with, and you politely decline to provide any more.

Or you can transition and live stealth, which is of course fine, too. It's completely up to you, but if you wish to live stealth you will need to transition before you get your job.

I know this is a long road, but please do the right thing for yourself. And know that you will have support and acceptance. This is, luckily, 2014, and people are honestly more open minded than we sometimes give them credit for. While it may take a few people a while to wrap their brains around it, it is only a very small, minute percentage who will actually be rude or hold it against you.