This is one of the most appalling and blatant cases of prejudice that I’ve seen in a long time. And the fact that it happened in a hospital, to a patient who was coughing up blood, only made it worse. A transgender woman says that she was ridiculed and eventually turned away by employees of Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana when they discovered that she was transgender. Officials are now investigating the allegations, which, if true, are horrifying in the extreme.
Erin Vaught, the woman in question, is transitioning from male to female. She reported that when she arrived at the emergency room two weeks ago, accompanied by her wife and son, employees entered her into the computer system as male, despite the fact that her ID said that she was female.
“I pointed out that my ID says female,” Vaught explained. “There were two ladies there, and one of them snickered a little bit and covered her mouth. The other got a very annoyed look on her face.” Vaught then entered the examination room and was referred to “he-she,” an “it,” and a “transvestite.” She was kept waiting for two hours, at which point the doctor arrived and refused to treat her because of “the transvestite thing.”
Hospital spokespeople said that the claim was being investigated, and that as an institution, they were “committed to providing care with respect, dignity and courtesy.” However, Vaught is now being treated at an Indianapolis hospital.
Assuming that all of these claims are true, it’s bad enough that Vaught was denied treatment – this is something that should never happen in a hospital. But the behavior of the hospital’s staff is also completely inexcusable, and something that the hospital is obligated to investigate. Their claim that all patients are treated with “respect, dignity and courtesy” seems to have fallen completely flat, and the fact that the hospital can’t bring itself to apologize for these actions – or even acknowledge that they might have happened – just adds insult to and already-horrible injury.
Advocacy groups, including Indiana Equality and the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, have filed complaints with the hospital. You can tell the hospital staff what you think of their behavior here.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.