Hi, I'm Richie, And I'll Be Your Nurse Today
I'm a genderqueer and in a same birth sex marriage. Yes, I still have the competency and the skill to be your nurse. My gender identity plays no part in my ability to save your life or notify the doctor of a critical clinical change.
This is what goes through my head every time I walk into a patient's room. How do you care for people who, at the moment they find out you're not who they think you are, doubt your clinical judgment? Your personal struggles, gender identity, or your sexuality have nothing to do with the great nurse you are.
When you walk into a patient's room, what goes through your head? Is it, "Where do I start my assessment?" Or maybe, "This patient is sick; I'm going to have a lot of work to do today?"
Is it ever that you're not enough? That, if they found out that you're not a cisgender heterosexual, they will doubt your ability as a nurse? This thought goes through my head all of the time. I was even working in the nation's capital of Washington DC, home to some of the most diverse melting pots in the country. My sexuality or gender identity — since most people who have an issue with me do not know the difference or care to learn the difference — plays a part in my everyday life.
I know some of you are reading this and thinking, I am not alone. And others are reading this thinking, why tell patients about your personal life? The simple answer is: I don't tell them. I just don't "pass" as a straight, cisgendered male. Pass, you ask? Passing in the LGBTQIA+ world means -- especially in the transgender community -- that when people take that first 2-second look at you, they don't question who you are. When people look at me, they see a topknot and pink shoes and the ceil blue scrubs making a split decision that I don't fit into the box of male or female.
Do not get me wrong; I wear what I wear to push the normative of cultural acceptance, and I love to educate patients on my pronouns and ask them theirs. From time to time, I get that one patient who says: "My grandchild is they/them too." and it makes me smile. But I am hoping that one day soon, that it will be so widely accepted that it will just be, "Hi, I'm Richie, and I'll be your nurse today."