Tuesday, March 6, 2012


One day on weekend cross cover a few years ago, I was rounding on an elderly trans-gender patient. Male to female. I went into the room to meet the patient, and if the resident hadn't told me she was transgender, I would have definitely thought it was a man. She had a deep voice, a stubble, and only slightly longish hair.

Anyway, as I was leaving the room, I said, "It was nice meeting you, sir." Then I quickly added, "Er, ma'am."

I was SO embarrassed. What's annoying is that I usually didn't even say "sir." I don't know why I felt compelled to add it with the one transgender patient I've ever had.

On Monday, I told the primary resident about it, and said I felt really bad. She said it happens all the time, which only made me feel slightly less guilty.


  1. Well if it helps I'm friends with quite a lot of trans-gendered people and I'm constantly screwing up pronouns, and nobody cares.

  2. I'm transgender myself (ftm) and trust me it happens a lot.

  3. In my (un)humble opinion, what's important is that you realized your mistake and corrected it. You didn't do it intentionally, and you didn't debase your story with hateful language.

    That's a lot.

  4. We're pretty hard wired to see specific characteristics as male or female. It sounds like your brain was at war, you were telling it that who you are seeing is female, but your brain is saying she looks male. A friend of mine is FtM and I still struggle with the pronouns, and it's not made any easier when his children call him mommy. Like the other poster said, my friend isn't hung up on he or she. He's just happy to be himself and be respected, and that's what you did by correcting yourself.