Transgender men speak out about alleged discrimination at Highland Hospital

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Two local men say they were discriminated against at a Rochester hospital.

Trey Lowery and Cori Smith are transgender men and they say in separate instances, staff at Highland Hospital treated them inappropriately.

When the alleged incidents happen, Lowery and Smith didn’t know each other. But now, they are speaking out together, hoping their stories bring awareness to adequate care and safety for transgender or non-confirming individuals.

Lowery said his incident happened in July of 2021, when he went to Highland Hospital for a bariatric surgery. He wanted to change his life around for his kids and wife, but was left upset by how the staff treated him.

“They made me feel so low,” Lowery said. While his identification shows he is a male, Lowery said many staff members on the surgical floor wouldn’t refer to him as one.

“They begin to call me a she throughout my stay. They never put me as a male, though I corrected them and let them know that I was a male,” Lowery said. “The whole situation was a whole disaster for me. It literally made me feel took my pride in everything away from me.”

Lowery said before his procedure, he was told by staff he had to take a pregnancy test, even though he says he can’t get pregnant.

“As I go in the back area, a patient care tech gives me a cup and says you have to urine for a pregnancy test. I told her that, ‘I am a male, there’s no need for a pregnancy test.’ She laughed in regards to the situation…she thought it was funny,” he said.

Lowery recalls asking a nurse why he was being misgendered.

“She stated, ‘Oh, well, you know, because you are a female, basically you have to go in and do this,’” he said. Lowery said he then heard the nurse laughing with other colleagues about the situation.

Following his experience at Highland, Lowery said he’s been getting help for his mental health. He also said he plans to file a discrimination lawsuit against the hospital.

“He wanted to kill himself because of the situation,” said Cheryln R. Smith, Lowery’s mother. “The way that they treated my son… I didn’t like it at all, but I had to show a little tough love to my son so he would be able to stand up on his two feet and not say that ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’”

In a statement from Highland Hospital, they said clinical staff don’t necessarily seek permission for each individual test that is run and that’s something they are working to improve.

The hospital wrote in a statement: “Many national organizations, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists and National Institutes for Health, recommend screening for pregnancy as part of preanesthetic evaluation. These recommendations include transgender and gender diverse individuals as they may have reproductive organs. Highland’s policies currently align with those recommendations.

Shortly after his surgery, Lowery said he received a call from the CEO of Highland, Dr. Steven Goldstein. Lowery said apologized to him for his experience and offered him a job as a spokesperson for transgender people at the hospital. However, Lowery said he did not take the position.

Seven years ago, Cori Smith, who is also a transgender man, said he experienced discrimination at the hospital as well.

Smith had to go into the hospital in 2014 because he had endometriosis and adenomyosis. He had gotten his eggs retrieved, but there had been a complication following the retrieval, which lead him to need emergency surgery.

“They put a female wristbands on me, they put my old name on there, which I don’t know how they still had. I gave them my updated information and said that I am actually a male and they need to put that on, and that my name is Cori. They refused and didn’t do that. They laughed it off,” Smith said.

Smith said he was triaged last and he had to wait for six hours in pain.

“I was screaming so much that it wasn’t until my girlfriend advocated for me and other patients in the waiting room were so annoyed at how loud I was that they finally took me back,” he said.

Once being seen, Smith said an ultra sound showed cysts in his ovaries (HCOs) and that he had a double ovarian torsion. He was brought up for surgery, but that’s when he said he received inappropriate treatment from his doctor.

“He refused to do the surgery. He said I’m not going to help you transition. We’re not going to help you become a man,” Smith said. “He wouldn’t even referenced me as a man. He called me it. He called me she, he called me they,” Smith said.

Smith said the doctor ended up doing the surgery, but he ended up having to have another one shortly afterwards because Smith said it wasn’t done right.

“The trauma that that caused, but also the physical state of my body and my own future, because all of this started because I was thinking of my future, all of this started because I wanted to have children, all of this started because I wanted my eggs retrieved,” Smith said.

Today, Smith has to get nerve blocks and trigger point infections every four weeks to help with the pain, which he said could happen for years to come.

“This all could have been avoided and was supposed to just be a one and done surgery. And it had nothing to do with my transition. It had nothing to do with it,” he said.

Following these instances, Smith filed a discrimination lawsuit against the hospital, which he said got dismissed.

In a statement responding to Smith’s treatment, the hospital wrote:

“UR Medicine believes that Mr. Smith received appropriate medical treatment at Highland Hospital in response to his need for emergency care in November 2014. This is based on a thorough review of the medical record by clinical professionals on Highland’s patient safety team, a review which included interviews with Mr. Smith’s attending physicians and other caregivers.  

Leaders of UR Medicine’s quality and patient satisfaction teams reached out to Mr. Smith last summer after he raised a separate concern not specifically related to Highland Hospital. They spoke about his entire experience as a transgender patient in the UR Medicine system. Mr. Smith’s input helped significantly to inform efforts we have already implemented, and others currently underway, to make systems and practices at our hospitals more sensitive to and affirming of the needs of transgender and gender diverse patients, without compromising quality or safety of care.”

However, the hospital also said Smith’s input has helped them in their on-going efforts to make systems and practices at the hospital more sensitive to the needs of transgender patients.

Today, Lowery, Smith and their families are hoping their stories encourage hospitals to take a look at the care they provide for transgender individuals.

“My son does have a chance to be himself, to stand up right for the gay community and transgender, because in today’s world, it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, orange purple, whether you go with a man, or go with a woman, you are a human being and everyone needs that respect,” Cheryln R. Smith said.

After Smith’s came forward with his complaints, Highland Hospital says they have taken the following steps to support transgender patients, including:

  • Removing gender from patient wristbands and identification stickers in the hospital
  • Implementing practices for staff members to assist patients who want to update gender, name, and pronouns in their electronic medical record
  • Creating a process to make sure hospital billing aligns with a patient’s gender identity
  • Converting public restrooms to all-gender

Our mandatory annual education provides training about working with transgender and gender diverse individuals, and we offer a number of ongoing trainings to increase affirming and equitable care for transgender and gender diverse individuals.

Highland follows all standards of nondiscrimination set by the Joint Commission, New York State Department of Health, and Centers for Medicaid and Medicare.

The post appeared first on RochesterFirst.

Review: 2021 feature Haymaker staring Nomi Ruiz

Trans women Nomi Ruiz is one of the most stunning women you will ever see. She is gorgeous in a smoking Jessica Rabbit sort of way, sashaying silently about the blood-splattered rings. I won’t spoil this movie for others by saying it was filmed from tomorrow to today with what is normally saved for a dramatic reveal early in the reel.

That moment could have opened the door for character building and intense conversations but sadly, that wasn’t to be had. To be fair I have to say it got a 3.4 overall rating at imdb with 122 male reviewers rating it at 3.2 and eight women users who believed it deserved a 5.0. The majority of the demographic reached was obviously disappointed by the lack of nudity and gratuitous sex.

But that was by design, with the showrunner electing to seek parity and sometimes even dominance over the male-dominated fight ring, This is a hard pill to swallow unless it is coated with, well yeah. Haymaker kept it classy.

Ahead of the release of Haymaker this Friday January 29th, The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann had an exclusive conversation with Nomi Ruiz about her reaction when reading the script for the first time, wanting to be part of creating progressive trans narratives on screen, getting acting tips from her friend, award-winning A Fantastic Woman actress, Daniela Vega, and why she loves the TV series Veneno. read this at the queer review.

Directors Nick Sasso
Starring Nomi Ruiz, Nick Sasso, John Ventimiglia
Genres Action, Drama
Subtitles English [CC]
Audio languages English

You can watch Haymaker on Amazon for a couple of dollars. It was such a great break from today’s traumas.

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Transgender Asian American wins Student Council election At UVA

For the first time ever a transgender Asian American candidate has won an election to become the student president at a major east coast university. Abel Liu made his hometown of San Anselmo in Marin County proud as he won with 80% of the vote to become the University of Virginia student council President.

Liu said that while he didn’t make his gender identity or Asian heritage central to the race there were some who tried to turn it into a wedge issue.  It’s about Social Data Equality with Asian Americans.

“It was used to mobilize portions of the student body against me, but I was heartened to see that so many other students really rejected that narrative and rallied around a message of acceptance and inclusivity,” said Liu from the Charlottesville campus.

Least we forget how our liberation began when on a 2017 night torch-carrying white supremacists marched on the University of Virginia Campus to Unite the Reich.

Abel Liu’s victory comes on the heels of a February 15th student council zoom meeting that was disrupted by hate messages from ‘unaffiliated’ attendies that attacked the minorities present.

“There has always been at least one conservative voice in Student Council since I’ve been a first-year at U.Va.,” Liu said two days later at a student forum. “What’s changed is the unacceptable conduct by certain members that alienate members who are more marginalized than them [who] are really just trying to share their lived experience but now cannot because they fear death threats or national organizations with millions of dollars targeting them online.”

Student Council’s 2020-2021 representative body was the first majority-minority body in the organization’s history. Liu said that this was accomplished through focusing on diverse recruitment channels, and he hopes to continue advocating for marginalized students — a core part of his platform.

“We will be ensuring accountability for any instigators of instances of biased and targeted harassment as well as threats,” Liu said. “We will be implementing anti-racism training, and then furthermore, we’ll actually be trying to remove traditional barriers to officer-level positions in Student Council by paying first-generation low-income students, hopefully in the future, to take on those roles.”

“What matters most is solidarity across racial lines, class lines, gender lines in a fight against a common enemy of white supremacy,” he said.

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South Dakota Gov Noem proposes a coalition of States to Ban the NCAA

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem held a press conference Monday afternoon to defend her decision not to sign HB 1217, a bill to exclude transgender girls from intermural and interscholastic sports.

Nome sent the legislation back on a ‘style and form’ veto with revisions required for her signature. The bill’s author nearly lost it when asked about it saying Nome had ‘gutted’ his bill. Lawmakers have until March 28 to act.

Noem says among the Coalition’s supporters are athletes and political officeholders . She says, “Once we have enough states on board– a coalition large enough where the NCAA could not possibly punish us all– then we will be able to guarantee fairness at the collegiate level.”

The fact that Noem didn’t have any other Governors present in support of her so-called defend title IX campaign didn’t escape the notice of the reporters at the briefing. When queried as to the states that joined Noem indicated that Missippi was “on board”.

She empathically stated that the bill if made into law would be legally indefensible and made sure to point out the state hadn’t spent a dime on it to date.

The website has a video endorsement of two former professional athletes but does not list any other states. This should be very encouraging to states considering Trans sports Bills as Missippi will more than likely have to foot the bill defending the indefensabile.

Noem couldn’t name a single trans athlete in Noth Dakota because quite frankly there are none.

Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-LGBT hate group that mass-produced the anti-trans boiler-plate legislation circulated to republicans in 20 states reacted angrily. Calling her presser “lip service” and “political theater in a statement Friday, the ADF described her decision not to sign the bill as a betrayal to “woke” corporate agendas.”

The South Dakota ACLU fired back at the governor calling her new coalition saying it does little to ensure fairness in women’s sports, and that it was simply an attempt to erase transgender people from society.

The organization says Noems’ proposed style and form recommendations to HB1217  do not address the bill’s unlawful discrimination and still leave South Dakota open to litigation and economic fallout.

If Gov. Noem was the slightest bit interested in the disparities caused by men in women’s sports they would listen to retired NCAA Coach Muffett McGraw.

Retired NCAA Coach Muffett McGraw joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss the fight for gender equality and how to implement changes in national and collegiate sports.

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Fred Deutsch revived HB 1026 to keep Perci from gender marker change

They hoped no one would notice as Perci and their mother Dianne Ereth drove to the newspaper office in Whitefish SD. Perci, a non-binary trans person was excited as they paid the newspaper to publish notification of their name gender marker change. In South Dakota, it is required before the public court date that a person publishes their intent to change their Birth certificate gender for four weeks.

They just hoped their father wouldn’t notice. He lived out of state and strongly objects to Perci’s gender identity. So Perci had to wait until they were 18 to file the paperwork.

“‘I think these are ridiculous,’ Dianne said the newspaper staffer told them. “I can see if you’re a 40-year-old person and you’re running away? But you’re 18,” the staffer continued. “What are you running from?”

Perci, who lives in Lead, S.D., identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. Having been bullied at school, they weren’t thrilled with taking out an ad.

But the question stuck with Perci’s mom, Mitchell Republic reports.

“What are you running from?” asked Dianne. “Perci was running for safety. We were hoping it’d kind of get overlooked.”

Republican Fred Deutsch noticed. The Swordfish republican used Perci’s gender marker change, without acknowledging their name as the reason to ‘smoke out the bill.

House Bill 1076 Section 1. Line 3: “In at least one pending case, a circuit court has been asked to change the sex designation on the petitioner’s birth certificate from female to nonbinary..”

Despite this Fred Deutsch has repeatedly denied that this bill targets the transgender community.

Since 2015 have been 14 birth certificate gender marker changes in South Dakota, according to South Dakota Public Radio. But there was only one at that moment as far as Perci and their mom knew that was their’s pending and non-binary.

Fred Dutch brought the entire weight of the great state of the South Dakota legislature down on Perci to crush their dream of living a full and rich life authentically.

The Senate version of Deutsch’s bill did not make it out of the Committee it too was consigned to the 41st day. If it isn’t revived by March 29th it will die an inglorious death in the annals of South Dakotan transphobic history.

Deutsch who has filed perennially filled trans discriminatory bills is also the sponsor of the vile transgender sports bill. It was sent back to the legislature by Governor Noem with a style and form veto.

A spokesman for South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem criticized “conservative cancel culture” on Wednesday after Noem received pushback from conservatives for refusing to immediately sign a bill that would bar transgender girls from participating in women’s sports, reports the right-wing National Review.

“In the past year, [Noem] was the only governor in the entire nation to never order a single business or church in her state to close. The left bullied her incessantly, but she didn’t cave,” spokesman Ian Fury said in a statement.”

“But if any number of conservative pundits are to be believed, that same governor who refused to cave is now caving to the NCAA and Amazon on the issue of fairness in women’s sports,” Fury added. “What? Apparently, uninformed cancel culture is fine when the right is eating their own.”

This may be a delish victory but until the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is enforced by the Federal Government it will remain a temporary reprieve at best.

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Senate Confirms Transgender Woman Rachel Levine As Assistant Health Secretary

Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed today as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services by the US Senate in a historic 52-48 vote.

The vote was 52-48. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Democrats in voting yes.

Levine, a pediatrician, previously served as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health and as physician general, reports CNN was the state’s top health official and top doctor.

“The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness, and depression than almost every other group, it’s important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who by virtue of being in the public spotlight will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear.”

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Transgender student awarded $300,000 in Locker room Lawsuit

Transgender student Nick Himley has been awarded $300,000 in a discrimination lawsuit and a guarantee of meaningful reforms by the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

In 2016, the school board initially barred Nick from using the boys’ locker room, after he had been welcomed by and participated on the boys’ swim team for much of the season. Nick was singled out and forced to use segregated changing facilities that no other students were required to use. This discrimination led to bullying and threats against his family, causing Nick emotional distress and harm.

“I never want any student to experience the discrimination and cruelty I experienced from the adults at my school,” Nick said in a statement published by the ACLU.
It means a lot to see the courts protect transgender students like me. Today’s settlement agreement makes it very clear that segregating transgender students doesn’t just dehumanize us, it violates our legal rights.”

The settlement comes after a ruling by the state Court of Appeals finding that it’s a violation of both the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Minnesota Constitution for school districts to segregate transgender students from their peers in locker room facilities.

The school district agreed to take several steps including:

    1. Reaffirming its commitment to comply with the Minnesota Human Rights Act and not discriminate against or segregate transgender students.
    2. Developing a policy to allow every student to use all facilities consistent with their gender identity that includes a complaint procedure and a prohibition on reprisals.
    3. Training all school board members, staff and students on these policies.
    4. Affirming that students of all gender identities are valued and welcome.

ACLU Minnesota zoom press conference

In 2016, more than 55 percent of Minnesota students who identified as transgender reported having attempted suicide within the prior two years, according to a Minnesota Department of Education survey. Health risks like this are largely eliminated when transgender students are supported in their efforts to live in a manner consistent with their gender identity.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District came out with the following statement:

“The Minnesota Court of Appeals has established clarity for transgender student access to locker rooms. Since the decision, Anoka-Hennepin has modified its policy and procedures as well as training of staff and students regarding student right of access to any and all facilities consistent with their gender identity. All legal issues have been resolved. The district is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and families including transgender and gender-nonconforming students. The Court of Appeals notes the district’s approach in the majority opinion by stating, “We are sympathetic to all parties involved and readily acknowledge the task the school district faced as it sought to balance the privacy interests of all of its students while addressing issues that are of first impression in Minnesota.”

This the second lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin School District over discriminatory policies regarding LGBTQ students. The first lawsuit alleged the district allowed uncontrolled bullying and created unequal access to education. Nine students committed suicide in just two years.

The district was still under a five-year federal consent decree to address anti-LGBTQ harassment when they discriminated against Nick.

The ACLU-MN is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to defend the civil liberties of all Minnesotans through litigation, community engagement and advocacy. Learn more at

Gender Justice is a nonprofit legal and policy advocacy organization dedicated to advancing gender equity through the law by dismantling barriers and expanding protections so that all people can thrive regardless of their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Learn more at

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Tell your Senator to Confirm Dr. Rachel Levine

The U.S. Senate will soon vote on the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine as the very first transgender person ever considered for such a high-level government position. That means that in almost 250 years, no president has appointed an openly trans person for any high-level position in the federal government that requires consent and approval from the Senate. This is truly historic.

Her confirmation process is a chance for us to gauge how much things have changed for trans people. Will she be treated fairly and respectfully by all senators, or will she be slandered by the tropes and a political hit job that we all know too well?

Join with the National Center For Transgender Equality and Tell your senators to support Dr. Levine’s nomination.

HRC Press Release:

Dr. Levine was previously the Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Levine joined Governor Tom Wolf’s administration in January 2015 as the Physician General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and served from 2015 to 2017. She was named Acting Secretary of Health in July 2017 and confirmed as Secretary of Health in March 2018.

In addition to her recent positions, Dr. Levine is an accomplished regional and international speaker, and author on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBTQ medicine. Dr. Levine graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine. She completed her training in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Join with the National Center For Transgender Equality and Tell your senators to support Dr. Levine’s nomination.

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Transgender community Protests Arkansas’s soul-crushing legislation

Transgender activists and allies gathered in Little Rock Arkansas Thursday to protest the half dozen anti-transgender bills winding through the legislature.

Willow Breshears was there to protest HB 1570 a bill that prohibits trans youth from accessing transitional medical care even with parental consent.

Breshears transitioned when she was in school. She says the messages behind the proposed bills create division.

“This really sends a clear message to trans children that we don’t want you in Arkansas. We don’t see you as valid,” said Breshears.

American Academy of Pediatrics Excoriates Bills Harming Transgender Youth

“There is no group of people too marginalized, too bullied, too forgotten that the #arleg won’t punch down on and demagogue.” attorney Jesse Gibson said in a tweet. “This is the worst, most damaging, and most hateful session in my lifetime. Today was only another sad #arpx chapter in the race to the bottom.”

Fear and loathing at the Arkansas legislature: The anti-LGBT laws

  1. Existing law allows people to use religion as a pretext to discriminate against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public services.
  2. A proposal from the governor to remove Arkansas from the list of four states without hate crime laws is stymied because opponents don’t want to add penalties to people who commit crimes inspired by hatred rooted in sexual orientation or gender identity
  3. A pending proposal requires advance notice to parents and curriculum review of any school course material that mentions sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. A pending proposal allows any medical provider or insurance company to refuse service if they have moral objections to LGBT people.
  5. A pending proposal prohibits transgender girls from participating in girls’ athletics, kindergarten through college.
  6. A pending proposal prohibits transgender students, boys and girls, from participating in athletics other than in sports designated for the gender on their birth certificate.
  7. A pending proposal prohibits medical services — including desperately needed counseling — for transgender minors. The father of a transgender child was arrested for speaking past his two-minute limit in a committee hearing on this bill.
  8. HB 1749, from Rep. Mary Bentley, with Sen. Gary Stubblefield as Senate sponsor, takes the devotion to this cause to a new level of cruelty. It says: A public school employee shall address a public school student by only the name and sex designated on the public school student’s original certificate of birth.

These 31 major medical associations approve of the gender-affirming procedures that HB 1570 would do away with.

American Academy of Nursing
American Academy of PAs
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Psychiatry and The Law
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American College Health Association
American College of Physicians
American Medical Association
American Medical Student Association
American Medical Women’s Association
American Nurses Association
American Pediatric Surgical Association

American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Public Health Association
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Doctors for America
Endocrine Society
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
HIV Medicine Association
LBGT Physician Assistant Caucus
National Association of Social Workers
National Council for Behavioral Health
National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Society of General Internal Medicine
Society of Physician Assistants in Pediatrics
The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
United States Professional Association for Transgender Health
World Professional Association for Transgender Health

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South Carolina Committee Axes Transgender sports Bill

A committee in the South Carolina House has rejected a bill that would have prevented transgender students from playing on girls’ sports teams in middle and high school, reports the A.P.

The House Judiciary Committee tabled the bill Tuesday without a recorded vote, likely dooming any chance it has of passing in 2021.

South Carolina Trans sports
South Carolina Republican Rep. Micah Caskey of West Columbia

South Carolina Republican Rep. Micah Caskey of West Columbia made the motion to table the bill, saying supporters failed to show it was a problem that lawmakers needed to solve.

Earlier this month South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman said the bill would not protect transgender students in a very sensitive personal situation.

The superintendent said she thinks the South Carolina High School League can handle any situations on an individual basis.

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