The Daily Iowan (University of Iowa), IA, USA
Transgender patient files discrimination complaint against UIHC
BY ASMAA ELKEURTI | MAY 08, 2012 6:30 AM
When Shay O'Reilly, a former DI employee, contacted the University of
Iowa Hospitals and Clinics endocrinology clinic to get his hormone
imbalance regulated, he didn't anticipate being turned away twice
after allegedly being told they didn't see people with his
Iowa City resident O'Reilly is transgender — people who identifies
with genders outside their biological one.
The 22-year-old was referred to the endocrinology clinic by his
primary-care physician after testing at the Emma Goldman clinic found
his hormone levels half what they should be, an imbalance that could
possibly lead to long-term complications.
O'Reilly was only able to schedule an appointment after contacting the
"Had I not gone that extra mile, I wouldn't have been seen," he said.
O'Reilly filed a discrimination complaint May 3 against the UIHC with
the goal of prompting the university to make sure no other transgender
individuals would be denied easy access to health care.
"Nobody should be turned away ever, at all," he said. "What I would
like to see out of this complaint is that the university would do
whatever is necessary to ensure no patient is turned away."
Tom Moore, UI spokesman, said the UI will follow up to ensure the case
is properly resolved.
"We strive to care for all patients to the best of our ability without
regard to their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or
economic status," he wrote in an email. "Clearly, all feedback is a
helpful learning tool for our staff and helps us provide more
appropriate care in the future."
He said certain programs had been put in place in order to help better
ensure UI faculty are educated on transgender services such as
safe-zone training, which began this spring, and a series of
symposiums and workshops that will begin later this month.
O'Reilly is not alone in his alleged mistreatment. stef shuster, a
transgender UI graduate student and co-organizer of transgender
advocacy group TransCollaborations, experienced a similar incident in
2007 when seeking treatment through UI Student Health Service, shuster
"The interim director at the time promptly responded, reached out to
me, and did workshops with the staff on how to be more culturally
competent," shuster said. "That was a great outcome."
O'Reilly said a representative from the Iowa City Civil Rights Office
stated the public's perception might differ if any other minority
demographic experienced what the 22-year-old did.
"When [the representative] put it in the frame of any other protected
class, it was pretty appalling what had happened," he said. "Because
transgender people are so discriminated against and so unaccepted by
society, people have trouble applying the framework to transgender
people that they do to anybody of any other protected class."
Advocates said health-care providers who can service transgendered
people are scarce nationally as well.
"A lot of these instances and policies which inadvertently affect
transgender people don't start out to intentionally exclude
transgender people," said Oliver Paulo Villano, the communications
manager for the National Center for Transgender Equality. "I think in
the last couple of years, the medical profession has made a lot of
progress in understanding how to properly treat transgender people."
Copyright © 2012 The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.