"All patients deserve equal and appropriate health care"

Story No. 594: Dr. Allison from New York

Read more about Dr. Allison in her Meet Our Advocates Q&A.

About two years ago, I met a 19-year-old patient. She came to my office just a few days after hearing that she had contracted HIV. The name on the medical record was Nathan (name changed for privacy), but the nurse had informed that this patient prefers to be called Natasha (also changed for privacy).

I walked into the room to see a very scared and nervous patient, but she seemed to relax a little bit after I used her chosen name and asked her which pronouns she preferred to use.

Natasha said she had been afraid to seek regular health care since she did not want to be judged or lectured. She also said I was the first physician to address her using her chosen name and make her feel comfortable to discuss her sexual practices.

I have been seeing Natasha regularly now for two years and work with a multidisciplinary team to keep her HIV viral load undetectable, improve her mental health, and reduce risky behaviors. She also has started feminizing hormones to further her gender transition.

I am very passionate that all patients deserve equal and appropriate health care, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. I have advocated for patients like Natasha even in my own medical institution and am proud to say that Natasha has become the first patient in our institution to have her electronic medical record updated to incorporate her birth sex and her gender identity!