health scare

How Did This Indiana Hospital End Up Refusing Care to a Woman Because She’s Transgender?

Erin Vaught headed for Indiana’s Ball Memorial Hospital when she found herself coughing up blood. When she arrived at the emergency room, she was “treated,” all right. With transphobic behavior by the hospital staff, who eventually refused her care.

In a disgusting episode of the exact opposite of the Hippocratic Oath, hospital staff laughed and taunted Erin over being transgender. One nurse asked Erin’s wife Amanda whether Erin “was a he or a she? Or a he-she?” Others referred to her as “it” and a “transvestite.” And then Erin was told she could not be treated because of her “condition.” No, not her medical condition, of which Erin didn’t know what the problem was (hence the visit to the hospital), but her “transvestite condition.”

Ball Memorial Hospital, whose Facebook page was flooded with messages after Erin posted about it, says it prides itself on “compassion,” “respect” and “customer care/service.” It does not have a policy including transgender people.

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  • L.

    OK, this is so sad. I hope some asses are getting fired over this.

  • concernedcitizen

    Dammit Indiana!!!! Stop making me look bad :'(


    The CEO of that hospital and all those who denied care should start clearing out their workspaces desk right ’bout now………Cause if Vaught hires the correct law firm she is going to basically own that hospital……….

  • Simon

    oh god. that’s horrifying.
    indiana, c’mon, step it up.
    ughhh why do i live here.

  • D Smith

    this unfortunately happens time and again across the nation.

  • Clint

    Horrible. I fail to see how her gender would have ANYTHING to do with treating her.

  • RicharDaThird

    Tagline: Indiana – the Oklahoma of the North
    One-word summery: LAWSUIT

  • L.

    A similar thing happened to Billie Holiday’s father, and, I think, Nina Simone.

    Ah, progress.

  • Jason

    I’m ashamed to admit I even live in Indiana. I don’t get how backwoods this state is when we are right next to one of the most liberal states in the midwest, if not THE most liberal. Thankfully I live in the northwest area near Chicago, so its a little more accepting. It’s sickening how close minded and bigoted people area around here

  • menlo

    The hospital may have just lacked special training to deal with transexuals and was afraid to risk a lawsuit by making mistakes.

  • Hyhybt

    @Clint: Well, for many conditions, it *would* matter… but I can’t think of any that involve coughing up blood. And of course even if it were relevant, making fun of her wouldn’t be helpful.

  • Bitter Old Queen

    Let us not forget the majority of the “guests” on The Jerry Springer show are from Indiana. Poor white trash (the hospital staff) at it’s worst.

  • Kevin

    I could maybe, maybe see why they’d feel a need to refer a post-op transgendered person, or maybe one well into hormone therapy, to a different (read, better) hospital, but only after treating the immediate symptoms and ensuring that she was at no immediate health risk. What they did is horribly disappointing, unprofessional, and sad. Everyone involved should lose whatever license they have to practice medicine.

  • Unpopular

    As a paramedic, this horrifies me. I’ve treated literal nazis as well as transgendered patients, gangbangers, rapists, a priest, a couple of nuns, CLOWNS (and they scare me). It doesn’t matter. We can’t judge. It’s not ethical, and it’s not human.

    This is sad.

  • glasshouses

    They note their involvement with Indiana University at length, including the following message.

    “[Ball Memorial] is closely tied to the Indiana University School of Medicine — more than half of the IU School of Medicine’s 970 physicians practice, supervise, and teach residents and fellows at one of Clarian’s hospitals.”

    If it’s a teaching hospital (apparently located near Ball State and sharing a name of the founders but not an affiliation), what are the lessons being learned? Also, does IU have a reaction?

  • Karisana

    It’s not gender so much as it its the biological sex…some conditions are more prone in women, or an influx female hormones can acerbate particular conditions (if she was on hormone therapy as her process of transitioning to female)…HOWEVER, this didn’t seem like the case is this woman’s situation this is the most unprofessional behavior I’ve ever heard of…as a med. student I am rather disappointed in this story and alot of the insensitivity and judgment I see in my peers and current healthcare environments…also basic diversity training is needed in our society..with trangendered or intersex (formerly called hermaphrodite) (having both biological sex factors/organs (visble or just internally).. you address the individual by their desired gender, but if they haven’t transitioned biologically yet a medical professional you still address the health issue as it is for their biological self…

  • concernedcitizen

    @menlo: Don’t be stupid, she went in with a lung problem what the hell does that have to do with gender reassignment or snarky comments!

  • Jem

    @Jason: Actually, the closer you get the Indianapolis, the more accepting peoples because, and even more so in Bloomington. The boonies in Indiana is where most of the closed-minded people are. I can quite surprised this happened in Muncie.

  • Jem

    @Jem: Sorry. I “am” quite surprised this happened in Muncie.

  • Syl

    Shit like this is why I’m going to law school. I’ll work with GLAAD or the ACLU, but I want to help people like Erin.

  • Dawson

    Isn’t Indiana University the one that started speaking out very vocally about doing away with Affirmative Action? Seems they are equal opportunity bigots. Unfortunately its not amazing that this story fails to spark outrage by many of the posters because even the gay community is divided on the issue of transexuals.

  • Brandon

    Yeah, surely because it happened in a certain state it is because of that state it happened in!!! In one way or another a lot of you people suffer from the same psychological issues that the bigots you are criticizing share.

  • Todd

    @Dawson: Affirmative action does need to be dealt with and removed. What is the problem here?

  • PBMonkeyKing

    @Todd: The you don’t really understand affirmative action, much less in a state like Indiana where the Klan is not only alive and well, but particularly active, and where passive and institutional racism is often still the norm.

  • Lauren

    Has anyone approached this with the idea that she has a potentially huge lawsuit on her hands? Or at least threatening to sue the hospital would get things done a lot faster than just filing a complaint.

  • elle

    Did the staff actually demand that she leave/call security to escort her out? Or did they “merely” torment and ignore her until she left? It’s not just an Indiana problem. There is a mean-spirited contingent among hospital staff who carry around chips on their shoulders because they feel they didn’t get their fair share in life. They gripe endlessly and are quick to judge anybody who is out of the ordinary. Woe to any soul who finds themself sick and helpless in the hands of those people. (But they looovvvve handsome, wealthy young men: they’re flirtatious, indulgent, comforting.)

  • Unsan

    This article is extremely biased and makes no sense.

Comments are closed.