sharing my story because in the queer community, transmen are not as well-known or as visible as transwomen. There aren't a lot of stories in the media for people who are looking for examples. It’s important to be visible so other transgender individuals have someone to look to and so binary individuals know that transgender people are real. We’re not some abstract concept.
As a third-year neurology resident, I’m interested in the humanistic side of medicine and the unique stories people bring. For me, it’s not just about the patients’ diagnosis—it’s also about their experiences and who they are as individuals. Throughout my transition, I’ve had support from peers and access to an underground network of information and recommendations on where to go and who to see for my health care. Not everybody has that support or access.
My experiences as a patient and resident at University of Utah Health have given me insights into things patients may not be comfortable talking about. Transgender patients must constantly navigate aspects of their visit. How do I introduce myself? How do I explain things? How much do I have to educate my provider on how to refer to me and care for me? When providers don’t correctly address their patients or understand the nuances of their situation, it makes patients feel more stressed. Trans people may choose to minimize or even stop their medical care.
University of Utah Health has taken strides toward minimizing the stress that transgender patients feel. Prefered names and pronouns are entered in Epic and staff are trained to recognize and use this information. But, there’s always more to do to become a more inclusive health care community.
Being inclusive means providing the space and freedom for people to present as they are, and accepting them for who they are. One way to do this would be to include pronouns on ID badges to help normalize sharing them in patient introductions. Increased communication and education play a major role in becoming more inclusive and leads to patients feeling an enhanced sense of safety. People want to be believed for who they are and how they feel.
About Liam Clark (He/Him/His)
Despite natal origins in Illinois, Liam spent most of his life growing up in Wyoming. He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, graduating with a degree in biology. After a break to take physics and work with llamas, he was accepted to the WWAMI program for medical school at the University of Washington. Work interests include education, palliative care, critical care, and complementary therapies. Liam enjoys reading, writing, talking animatedly about history, and staring contemplatively at scenery in his free time.