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LGBTQ Inclusion Tools for Providers

UW Medicine is committed to improving healthcare for LGBTQ patients and families. The resources gathered below support providers in creating a welcoming care environment and responding to population-specific healthcare needs.


Provider Resources: Mr. Emil Sparrowhawk Brandon Interview

What it's like for transgender individuals to access healthcare

Mr. Emil Sparrowhawk Brandon is a volunteer advocate for the transgender community, specializing in support around healthcare. He…

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Provider Resources: Improving care for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients

Improving care for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients

The two checkboxes appear on countless forms: male or female. But countless Americans don't fit into either box. Transgender and gender-…

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Communication resources

Guides to help you better communicate with your LGBTQ patients.

Terminology updates

Review outdated words and phrases you may be using and learn new terms to use instead.


Use instead


Gay or lesbian

Transgendered/A transgender/Tranny


Real (sex/name)

Assigned at birth

Sexual preference

Sexual orientation

Sex change

Gender affirmation surgery

Gay/transgender lifestyle

Gay/transgender people and their lives


Intersex/disorders of sex development


Ally (noun) – A person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people.

Assigned sex at birth (noun) – The sex (male or female) assigned to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy. Also referred to as birth sex, natal sex, biological sex, or sex.

Binding (verb) – The process of tightly wrapping one’s chest in order to minimize the
appearance of having breasts. This is achieved through use of constrictive materials such as cloth strips, elastic or non-elastic bandages, or specially designed undergarments. 

Cisgender (adj.) – A person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth correspond (i.e., a person who is not transgender).

Gender affirming surgery (GAS) (noun) – Surgeries used to modify one’s body to be more congruent with one’s gender identity. Also referred to as sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or gender confirming surgery (GCS).

Gender dysphoria (noun) – Distress experienced by some individuals whose gender identity does not correspond with their assigned sex at birth. Manifests itself as clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes gender dysphoria as a diagnosis. 

Gender expression (noun) – The way a person acts, dresses, speaks, and behaves (i.e., feminine, masculine, androgynous). Gender expression does not necessarily correspond to assigned sex at birth or gender identity.

Gender identity (noun) – A person’s internal sense of being a man/male, woman/female, both, neither, or another gender.

Gender non-conforming (adj.) – Describes a gender expression that differs from a given society’s norms for males and females.

Heteronormativity (noun) – The assumption that everyone is heterosexual, and that
heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities.

Intersectionality (noun) – The idea that identities are influenced and shaped by race, class, ethnicity, sexuality/sexual orientation, gender/gender identity, physical disability, national origin, etc., as well as by the interconnection of all of those characteristics.

Non-binary (adj.) – Describes a person whose gender identity falls outside the traditional gender binary of male or female. Other terms for people whose gender identity falls outside the traditional gender binary include gender queer, gender variant, gender expansive, etc.

QPOC (noun) – An acronym that stands for Queer Person of Color or Queer People of Color.

Queer (adj.) – An umbrella term used by some to describe people who think of their sexual orientation or gender identity as outside of societal norms. Some people view the term queer as more fluid and inclusive than traditional categories for sexual orientation and gender identity. Due to its history as a derogatory term, the term queer is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBT community.

Sexual orientation (noun) – How a person characterizes their emotional and sexual attraction to others.

They/them (pronoun set) – Grammatically accepted gender-neutral singular pronoun set according to many style-guides including Merriam Webster and Associated Press.

Trans man/transgender man/female-to-male (FTM) (noun) – A transgender person whose gender identity is male may use these terms to describe themselves. Some will just use the term man.

Trans woman/transgender woman/male-to-female (MTF) (noun) – A transgender person whose gender identity is female may use these terms to describe themselves. Some will just use the term woman. 

Transgender (adj.) – Describes a person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth do not correspond. Also used as an umbrella term to include gender identities outside of male and female. Sometimes abbreviated as trans.

Two-Spirit (adj.) – A contemporary term that connects today's experiences of LGBT Native American and American Indian people with the traditions from their cultures.

Conversational tips

Don't be afraid to politely correct your colleagues if they make a mistake or make insensitive comments.

How to ask awkward-feeling questions and build rapport:

  1. Practice cultural humility. Recognize that your social experiences and identities may not correlate to those of your patients. Meeting patients "where they are" without judgment or editorializing will enhance your rapport and quality of care.
  2. Listen to, understand, and mirror the terms that patients use to describe their gender, body parts, and sexual history.
  3. Avoid asking unnecessary questions. Ask yourself: Is my question necessary for their care or am I asking it for my own curiosity? If for your own curiosity, it is not appropriate to ask. Think instead about: What do I know? What do I need to know?
  4. How can I ask for the information I need to know in a sensitive way?

Links to other resources:

Collecting patient data

How to ask patients important questions and document that information in their records: