Transgender student nurse

Nurses Relations



I found your site by mistake. I was just trying to find out statistics on what percentage of the nursing profession in general or in the state of California were transgender. I also saw a comment by a Practical Nurse instructor about a student nurse who is transgender. I was thrown out of my second attempt as an enrolled student in nursing school. The first nursing program was the registered nurse. I had worked hard and under stressful conditions to fulfill the prerequisites. It was an amazingly difficult survival time. I sensed not long after entering the program, actually at the time of the interview with one of the instructors, that there were disrespectful comments made about me, and it only grew worse. I was stressed out with much work and little sleep, but I was completely devastated to sense that I was not to be tolerated. I passed all my medication exams and lecture exams, but I had no one to work with for skills. I mixed up a step in assessing the abdomen, switched the listening for the next step of tapping. In vital signs I had never practiced on anyone either and had a terrible time finding the brachial pulse on anyone but myself. The instructor walked out of testing with testy comments, actually very rude. As she came back into the room I put those few moments to work and just did my own blood pressure. She would not allow it and handed me my walking papers. I cried, I sensed the time was coming, still I was devastated. I was actually destroyed. I had worked so hard to meet the requirements and once there I could not survive because staff and I would say a majority of my classmates could not tolerate me. I pulled through a great loss for me and enrolled in another college in their certified nurse assistant program - starting at the very bottom. I got it right away - the professor was nasty to me and another student always had something to interject about me personality every day in lecture. I commuted a long distance, lost sleep most nights,

worked very hard, and had to have almost photographic memory in order to pass my exams as my text arrived so late that I had a lot of catching up to do. I have passed all my exams to date, was caught up on all assignments, yet I just could not tolerate the invisibility, castigating, and avoidance. I sat at a table by myself. The past Friday everyone was matched up with a partner for vitals accept me. I tried to overcome the emotional pain of 'unworthiness, unacceptable, nonexistence, I did my own vital signs. I was in emotional pain and then some unkind remark, and I just left and cried profusely. My training as a nurse was ended because I was not able to handle what would be unethical and abusive treatment for any patient. It meant a lot to me to realize my dream of becoming a nurse. The reality of the abusiveness to me was completely ignored and I was given the responsibility of 'having a problem'. I just wondered is it possible for a transgendered individual to have any possibility of becoming a nurse. It seems that there is totally no possibility within the 50 states of the U.S. I simply wonder if there is some foreign student exchange program for nursing where I would have every chance of receiving the necessary training, but I realize I would still be unemployable in the U.S. as the discrimination is so severe it would be practically impossible but that I could look for work in another country. I don't know if anyone would know anything on the subject, but if they did I would love to hear from them so I could once again pick up from this devastation.

SoldierNurse22, BSN, RN

10 Articles; 2,058 Posts

I just wondered is it possible for a transgendered individual to have any possibility of becoming a nurse. It seems that there is totally no possibility within the 50 states of the U.S. I simply wonder if there is some foreign student exchange program for nursing where I would have every chance of receiving the necessary training, but I realize I would still be unemployable in the U.S. as the discrimination is so severe it would be practically impossible but that I could look for work in another country

This is the most blanket generalization I've seen in a long time.

Of course there are transgender nurses. Of course it isn't impossible. I sincerely doubt that statistics exist on this matter, but your first start is always a search engine.

There's discrimination against all kinds of people all around the world, and in many areas of the world, discrimination against the transgendered is much more blatant/common than it is in the US, especially in a state like California.

It sounds to me as if you struggled greatly in clinicals and didn't stand up for yourself against this alleged abuse in two separate educational systems. There is a chain of command in any college that you can go through if you feel you're being treated unfairly. Aside from that, have you considered that lack of sleep and perhaps an anxiety disorder may be playing into your inability to perform under pressure? Nursing is a thankless, difficult profession. If you think nursing school was tough, actual nursing is much tougher.


53 Posts

If what you've experienced is a result of prejudice, keep in mind that when fighting against prejudice or attempting to overcome it, you almost have to work harder than others to get the same result. I know it's definitely not the same thing, but for example, women still (on average) make less than men for doing the same jobs. I think you should try again, maybe in an LPN program- and give it everything you've got and more. This is how changes are made and barriers are broken.

dudette10, MSN, RN

1 Article; 3,530 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.

I am so sorry you are having a rough time in your programs. I get a feeling you are still physically transitioning, and you present yourself as one gender, but you physically appear and sound to be the other gender. I might totally be wrong though. Correct me if I am.

I must ask if the comments you receive are related to your gender status? If you are still medically transitioning, you are also transitioning mentally/psychologically. You've spent a lifetime being someone inside that your body and social interactions do not reflect. That's difficult! Is it possible that your current social interactions are muddled because of your mental transition?

This isn't to excuse anyone's bad behavior, but there is a LOT at play here. I also need to gently remind you that patients may have difficulty relating to you until your outward physical transition is complete (assuming that it isn't yet).

Some food for thought, I hope. Good luck to you.


38 Posts

Hi teethotamales!

I actually have similar issues/concerns as you, but it sounds like we are at much different places in our journey. While I can relate to your situation and fears, I have not put myself out there yet, so I will not even pretend to know what you are actually going through. It is very scary for me to even think about and here you are living it! If you look down about 10 posts below yours, you will see my inquiry about the issue. Many are very open to and supportive of having a transgender nurse working alongside them as long as the nurse is competent, drama free and a good co-worker.

Unfortunately, HR may be a different story. Getting a job as a new grad is tough enough without the issues that you are likely to face, and I hate to say it, but it just gives HR one more reason not to hire you. I personally have decided to push any thoughts of transition aside until I have a job and have established myself in a state or community with employment protections for gender identity.

I truly believe that if I had tried to transition in the nursing school I attended, that my experience would have been very similar to yours. Many of my nursing school instructors were unabashedly biased and shockingly unprofessional at times throughout my schooling, but the problem with so many nursing schools is that the instructors hold all of the power and they know it. For those instructors, you just have to play the game until you are through. I think most of my fellow students would have shunned me to some extent, but I went to a very conservative school in the Midwest. Even there, I felt like I would have had the support of a few of the students, but I definitely would have had to reach out to them and ask for it. I am surprised that in California, there wouldn't be a couple students in your class that would have at least given you the dignity of helping you in lab. I wonder if maybe you might have written everyone off because of the outward negativity from those that let their disapproval be known. It would be understandable; I could see myself doing that. It is easier to withdraw and assume rejection rather than actually putting yourself out there and being rejected for real. Did you only get one opportunity to test out? That would be highly unusual and perhaps a solid point of argument for discrimination to bring to the school. That said, (BPs and brachial pulses) was the second lab we had to complete after bed baths and was pretty rudimentary; it only gets harder from there. If you failed it the customary three times, then I could see the instructor's concern with you moving forward.

While I think it would make your professional dreams/outlook more readily attainable, I would never tell you to detransition even temporarily because I know all to well that at a certain point it often becomes a matter of life or death for someone who is transgender. Besides, you need to be you and do what is right for you! It sucks that we will be penalized for that, but it is the way things are currently. We have to accept that for what it is, work harder and try to look at our experiences objectively. There will be plenty of obstacles put in our way due to our gender identity issues, but we can't attribute everything that goes wrong to those issues or other people's reactions to those issues. It is so important to distinguish between the two and take responsibilty for the things that we need to improve, otherwise we won't get better and the problems will just persist.

I believe that if you want something bad enough, and are willing to work for it, you can make it a reality. If being a nurse is your dream, I hope you try again, and give it everything you have! Openness and understanding of these issues are growing quickly and even in the short time it would take you to finish a program, the world will have become a much different place than it is today. Hopefully by the time you would graduate, I could tell you from my personal experience that it is possible and that I have achieved it. Either way, you have tremendous courage for being open about who you are, and I respect that so much. I only hope that I am able to summon the courage that you have when my time comes.



I know that being a human being is the hardest thing of all. I never could have imagined the inhuman inhumane treatment that occurred in nursing school. The dishonesty, contemptible, cruel, irresponsible and sadistic actions, words and behaviors has been an unreality I just could not have expected. In all I was just foolishly asking an honest question which is after all an oxymoron for nursing, or nursing education. I did meet at least one kindly person and hope for them to survive and come out the other end still a kind human being. I will hope for her humanity, humanity needs her full human being to continue.

Hi Kaley,

Thank you for such a kind, understanding, supportive and objective comment. I appreciate it. I have been hurt angry, very! Fed up and ticked. For skills I was tested only once separately for vitals and for assessing the abdomen. I definitely approached other students and something was happening, I have no idea what it was, it was like there were two separate people for each one I spoke with. I was left abandoned to the table myself. It seems there was an intended message to myself and pointed to the class 'I did not belong'. It all seems like it was some sort of game. An unimaginable cruel inhuman act repeated for entertainment. People who could not feel. A drug for power. It was a twilight zone. I had had such a positive educational experience earlier when the worst thing that ever happened was an English Phd who drew graffiti red ink all over every paper I submitted. I was disheartened by her cruelty, but wow! Nursing school has been the most inhumane monstrous experience ever. I can not endure such abusive inhumane behavior, its traumatizing. Education should be fun, challenging, encouraging and supportive. When education hurts and traumatizes a person, it is not education - its abuse. In plain text from nursing school - abuse is criminal. The abuse perpetrated upon me subversively or not was criminal. I can not play a game with that. They should be prosecuted and removed from educating and or medicine. Morality, integrity and honesty have a higher purpose and deserve respect, I honor that and I honor that in myself. Maybe this was the whole purpose of contacting this site and reading your post, what do I value? I value that I worked honestly for what I wanted. I value that I appreciate honesty and respectfulness and fairness. Nursing school had nothing to offer me of any value, but to show myself that I am capable of committing myself, sacrificing to achieve, and seeing what dishonesty is about - tearing people down, arrogance, non-feeling, no empathy, destroying another if necessary. It was tragic, traumatizing, a tremendous loss of something that was so meaningful to me. I had a passion to care for others and in strengthening my own humanity. I was so thrilled to do this and excited about the clinical, I wanted to be floated all over the hospital so I could learn all the different areas and experiences. It would have been wonderful in another world and time. I have had a passion for the hospital and really being a passionate person in my work. I don't think nursing is hard and a no thanks. I am sure it is one of the most grueling of them all, but also the most rewarding in the soul, to love the life, to give of ones inner most being for care and kindness and support of others in a dynamic setting such as a hospital. It certainly is a place where a nurse is living, moving, working, lifting, communicating, all the while the grinding stone is polishing that essence of humanity inside to shine to light of life of living being to loving care. It is gorgeous. I can only wonder. I will live to do the best I can and love to those nurses who live on in my memory who were such gracious beings, stalwarts of dedication and capable and caring. To those special few in moments who had tender hearts to hold this one that wept profusely - yours was the golden medicine that endures and lives in infinity and your name that blesses humanity is written in the book of truth and the angels will read from it and call your name glorious, and I shall testify with a tear the truth that is written, you did love. Bless be you dear god for these angels you did send to comfort me in my time of sorrow. Thank you I was not alone, forgotten or abandoned, thank you for loving me and sending these loved beings so that the light may shine in me the honesty of your love.

I am reading an extremely emotional post.

Part of your problem could be that... you are over emotional in real time. That is not tolerated in nursing school.

Where exactly, is the " reality of the abusiveness"?

We have ALL worked hard, under stressful circumstances to fulfill the pre - requistes. My fundamentals instructor was a royal B****.

I got grief for not making a bed good enough for her, received the only C grade I ever got in my life. Knew I was being discriminated against, but had no clue for what or why.

As far as failing your clinical assessment of the abdomen.. Listen first, palpate next.. you blew that. Yes, you did. YOU... not your gender identity issue.

Nursing school is hard, nursing is hard, stop using your transgender issue for a scapegoat for failure.

Ruas61, BSN, RN

1,368 Posts

Specializes in MDS/ UR.

Honestly, I went cross-eyed after your 2nd post.

I'll probably get hissed out of the room for this, but my feeling is you have obstacles beyond people accepting your journey through transgender.

You paint a heavy picture of the world and yourself with your words.

If I meet your words in person, I wouldn't be able to stay in their presence for very long.

I would encourage some counseling for yourself to sort this all through.

Good luck,


8,343 Posts

Sorry the wall of text is too much.

Several things stand out. Your use of the English language is different. Is English your second or third language? Would your written and oral communication skills be an issue?

It sounds like your class had an odd number of pupils in it. If everyone paired off and only you were left, why didn't you ask an instructor to be your testing partner? We had odd numbers in my class and it was never an issue.

Think about it, would you want to sit and have breaks with someone who was looking for abuse in every corner?

Specializes in HH, Peds, Rehab, Clinical.

Really? You truly believe that in the entire make up of the United States, including every state and commonwealth, there are NO transgendered nurses employed ANYWHERE? TOS precludes me from saying what I really think, and no, its not a discriminatory road that I'd head down. Stop thinking of yourself as a victim, the whole world is not against you.


38 Posts

Teethotamales, it really kills me that you are hurting so badly, and I wish that there was something that I could do to take your pain away. Your second post was such a flood of emotions it was really hard to understand so i will address what I did understand.

I have never heard of a nursing program that kicked people out for failing a lab "test out" only once, so I would think that they should provide you with another explanation for your dismissal. Did they give you an official reason for dismissal? What is the written policy for lab test outs? In my area, every school that I know of gives the student three attempts to pass because they know that everyone has a bad day.

As for your fellow students, I don't know what to say, the experience that you describe is one of my greatest fears going forward. You say that it was as if "there were two separate people for each one I spoke to." I fully expect that to be the case with a great deal of people when/if I transition. It is really hard to think that it would be otherwise. People don't understand it, and to be honest, I understand them not understanding it. Unless you live it or love someone who has lived it, it is hard to wrap your head around. That doesn't excuse hatefulness or bigotry though. I would just take what people give me, and use it to move forward. Even if they just give a tiny bit, use it. Maybe over time, they will give you more. I believe most will.

I hope you seek out a counselor or support group so you can take care of yourself and find people that will take care of you. Such emotion cannot be sorted out on a message board.

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