Henry Ng, MD, MPH, an internal medicine physician and pediatrician in Cleveland who specializes in the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients, walked into an exam room to meet a patient several years ago. The patient was 65 years old and presented as a man.
“Hello, Mr. Smith. How are you today?” Dr. Ng said.
“Oh,” the man replied. “I’m here to transition.”
Dr. Ng immediately regretted how he had addressed the patient. In this case, his normally innocuous greeting could have been harmful. The man did not identify as a man – as “Mister” – and this could have derailed the health care encounter, Dr. Ng said. Luckily the patient corrected him.