Caring for an Unconscious Transgender Patient at the End of Life: Ethical Considerations and Implications

Megan Lippe, Joshua C. Eyer, William E. Rosa, Robert McKinney, Brianna Patterson, Rebecca A. Matteo, Haley Townsend, Anne Halli-Tierney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Individuals who identify as transgender (trans) or other gender-diverse identities are highly marginalized populations within the United States health care system. Transgender individuals experience a broad range of health disparities leading to devastating health outcomes. Experiences with discrimination and biased care often result in a lack of trust in providers and reduced care seeking, yet providers frequently rely on communication with trans patients to build competence. Consequently, when a trans patient has restricted communication, whether due to biological or psychological reasons, their care can be further disrupted. The nursing code of ethics compels the provision of competent care to all patients, regardless of demographics or gender identity, including individuals with serious illness and injury. This article describes an approach to the provision of affirmative, trans-inclusive care in a palliative nursing context that integrates cultural humility and self-reflection into an established patient care framework. The approach is then applied to identify ethical dilemmas present in the case of a trans patient who arrived at a hospital in an unconscious state following serious injury. Nurses' use of the ethical approach when caring for seriously ill trans patients would represent important progress toward fostering a health care system that provides affirmative, trans-inclusive care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-308
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • ethics
  • health services for transgender persons
  • nursing ethics
  • palliative care
  • transgender persons
  • unconsciousness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'Caring for an Unconscious Transgender Patient at the End of Life: Ethical Considerations and Implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this