“Gender mistakes at work continued even after gender reassignment surgery.”

Writing this as a trans woman, the feelings of conflict I felt when my colleagues failed to recognize, hear, or challenge the direct or indirect misuse of gender pronouns while working as a nurse. is remembered. Or, by default, show insight or empathy for the emotional and psychological hurt and pain this can cause.

Unlike verbal bullying, racism and sexism (publicly known and overt problems that staff can see and hear) often fail to take into consideration issues related to gender and sexuality (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2018). Year).

“Nothing prepared me well enough to be the victim of a bitter, verbal, transphobic hate attack.”

In 2015, I started my social transition and got a new job in my chosen gender role. There were several staff there who knew my migration choices. Colleagues’ seemingly innocuous statements like “Mr. Blogs, she’s in the hospital” or “Mr. Smith is back from surgery” quickly became frustrating. Before the transition, I found such comments professionally frustrating simply because they were wrong. But now, the misgender directed at me caused hurt and anger because of my gender dysphoria, and I was disappointed, betrayed, and harassed by other colleagues who did not react or refute such words. I felt disrespected.

It was humiliating to be called “him” directly, especially when the same nurse mistaken me for my gender twice in front of a patient. The patient quickly corrected my colleague and she said, “Isn’t she referring to her, Liz?” However, her colleague never apologized or acknowledged being rude to me.

After raising the misuse of gender pronouns with the manager, the topic of anchoring learning and eliminating wrong behavior was discussed at the next ward meeting. However, gender misunderstandings persisted and extended to HR and equality, diversity and inclusion teams. Both questioned how they could address the issue because it was “too complicated” and my offer to provide gender awareness training was turned down on the grounds that I was getting too close to the issue. rice field.

The misuse of gender pronouns still continues, and professionally, I understood unconscious bias to mean no intentional intent to harm or target Liz, who is transgender. but it didn’t detract from this being wrong.

Entering a social transition is a critical decision based on many complex factors. It is not only about addressing gender dysphoria and difficulty accessing toilets and changing rooms, but also about issues such as the fear (and reality) of physical and verbal abuse, the potential loss of family, friends and jobs. must be dealt with. This is exacerbated by society’s negative perception of transgender people and a lack of heteronormative thinking and understanding of cisgender privilege (Colliver and Duffus, 2022). ).

But nothing was adequately prepared for the biting, verbal, transphobic hate attacks on the road to informed gender selection and gender-affirmation surgery. The incredible thing wasn’t that it happened, it was that it happened at work on the NHS premises by an NHS colleague on my team. This person should “thank God” for what I have and “be patient and silent about changing my body”, so what stops me is “God felt it was a sworn duty”, a religious prejudice investigated by Campbell et al. (2019).

My humiliation was compounded and the attack took place in front of a nursing student. When trying to deflect a situation and de-escalate a situation while defending yourself and your decisions, you can put your emotions aside and think calmly and rationally and work through emotional issues to stay professional and good. I keenly felt the need to set an example. difficult situation.

Gender pronoun misuse persisted in multiple wards and departments from after sex surgery until retirement. However, no matter how hurtful, disrespectful and unprofessional this act was, I was under pressure from the nursing administrator not to correct them for fear of offending the staff.

This culture of silence and failure to address root causes perpetuates a harassing environment of microaggressions and a lack of social equity. We need institutional education, coupled with individual learning and accountability for behavior maintained within professional and legislative frameworks (Governmental Equality Office and Equal and Human Rights Commission, 2015). Only through this synergistic marriage can social equity be brought closer.

Liz Carr is Chair of the National Pensioner Congress LGBTQI+ Working Group and LGBTQI+ Advisor to the National Pensioner Congress RCN Retirees Group.


Campbell M et al. (2019) A systematic review of the relationship between religion and attitudes towards transgender and gender-variant people. Transgender International Journal20:1, 21-38.

Colliver B, Dafus M. (2022) Queer Spaces: Toilet Provision, Access and Inclusion in the West Midlands. sexuality, Research and social policy19, 1483-1495.

Government Equality Office and Equality and Human Rights Commission (2015) Equality Act 2010: Guidance. British government16 June (accessed 25 April 2023).

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2018) Code of Conduct: Read the Code online. nmc.org.uk10 October (accessed 25 April 2023).

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