Three Strategies to Prevent Being Misgendered During Your Hospital Birth

Being misgendered at any time feels distressing, invalidating, and anxiety-inducing. If it happens during your birth — a time when you already feel vulnerable and in need of support — the experience can be even more upsetting. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the hospital setting, where multiple people come in and out of your room and shifts change, along with a continued cultural reluctance to learn about, observe, and respect pronouns, the likelihood of being misgendered (either you, your partner(s), and/or support person(s)) is high. In an effort to protect your birthing space, we hope the following strategies can help reduce the chance of being misgendered during your birth experience. 

Make use of the hospital room whiteboard 

Hospital labor and delivery rooms all include a whiteboard near the front of the room with the laboring person’s name and any important relevant information. Have your partner, your support person/team/doula, and/or your nurse write you/your partner’s name and pronouns as well as your role/title (for example, wife, partner, husband, girl/boyfriend, etc.). New nurses that come into your room often check in on the board, and will hopefully see and respect the information provided. 

Enlist advocacy help from your support team

Make it the job of your support team to inform in advance the labor and delivery staff of your pronouns and role/title, and correct them in the moment if you are misgendered or mistitled. Ideally, all staff would know this information in advance and/or actively ensure they learn about you and your pronouns before providing care and addressing you, but as you likely already know all too well, this isn’t usually the case. 

Wear a badge, button, or sticker

The bigger, bolder, and brighter, the better. Wearing something on your clothing can be especially helpful during labor, allowing you to point to a pin (instead of speaking) and remain focused on the hard work of labor. 

Your birth is one of the most important experiences in your life. You deserve to be gendered and referred to correctly. While there is no one perfect solution to prevent being misgendered and society has far to go when it comes to honoring people as individuals, we hope that these strategies help you in your own experience and work toward increasing awareness and changing behavior among medical professionals. 


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