‘They made me feel so low’: Transgender men speak out about alleged discrimination at Highland HospitalHe wasn’t the only one that happened to, the other person was hospitalized before the non-discrimination law was passed.
WROC Ch 8
By Ally Peters
September 17, 2021
Two local men say they were discriminated against at a Rochester hospital.
Trey Lowery and Cori Smith are transgender men and they say in separate instances, staff at Highland Hospital treated them inappropriately.
When the alleged incidents happen, Lowery and Smith didn’t know each other. But now, they are speaking out together, hoping their stories bring awareness to adequate care and safety for transgender or non-confirming individuals.
Lowery said his incident happened in July of 2021, when he went to Highland Hospital for a bariatric surgery. He wanted to change his life around for his kids and wife, but was left upset by how the staff treated him.
“They begin to call me a she throughout my stay. They never put me as a male, though I corrected them and let them know that I was a male,” Lowery said. “The whole situation was a whole disaster for me. It literally made me feel took my pride in everything away from me.”
Seven years ago, Cori Smith, who is also a transgender man, said he experienced discrimination at the hospital as well.If this happens to you first thing talk to the head nurse, then the hospital HR department or the patient advocate. If that doesn’t work then go to the state agency that handles discrimination cases. But above all else no matter what they say don’t raise your voice. I know of one trans person who was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Smith had to go into the hospital in 2014 because he had endometriosis and adenomyosis. He had gotten his eggs retrieved, but there had been a complication following the retrieval, which lead him to need emergency surgery.
“They put a female wristbands on me, they put my old name on there, which I don’t know how they still had. I gave them my updated information and said that I am actually a male and they need to put that on, and that my name is Cori. They refused and didn’t do that. They laughed it off,” Smith said.
Here in Connecticut they have to assign you a room consistent with your gender identity, they cannot put you in a single room without your approval, they can offer but not put you in a single room automatically (I rather take the single room rather than a ward).
If someone complains about you being in a ward with others of your gender, than that person is moved not you. I moderated a panel one time for a panel of lawyers including lawyers from the CHRO (Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity) and one questioner asked this very question and the CHRO lawyer asked the questioner what would they do if a person in the ward complained about a Muslin being in their room. The questioner said they would move the person who was complaining from the ward… the questioner paused for a second and said, “Oh I see.”
Their complaints bore results;
After Smith’s came forward with his complaints, Highland Hospital says they have taken the following steps to support transgender patients, including:
- Removing gender from patient wristbands and identification stickers in the hospital
- Implementing practices for staff members to assist patients who want to update gender, name, and pronouns in their electronic medical record
- Creating a process to make sure hospital billing aligns with a patient’s gender identity
- Converting public restrooms to all-gender
- Our mandatory annual education provides training about working with transgender and gender diverse individuals, and we offer a number of ongoing trainings [sic] to increase affirming and equitable care for transgender and gender diverse individuals.