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Empowering Our Nurses

How Discrimination Hurts the Entire Medical Field


Domaine Javier faced discrimination in her nursing training for being transgender, but she fought back.  

Domaine Javier had wanted to be a nurse even since she was little.

“I had a younger sister at the time — I believe I was 11 — and my younger sister had a twin sister,” Javier says. “One of them was very, very sickly. She had epilepsy, she had cerebral palsy, and the other one was completely healthy.”

Javier remembers seeing her younger sister hospitalized many times before she died at a young age. “I remember every time she would be hospitalized, the nurses were always the ones who were showing the best, most compassionate care out of all the medical professionals,” Javier recalls. “I remember watching them, and I thought, I want to be like them. I want to make a difference in someone’s life as much as they are making a difference in mine right now.”

Domaine Javier

Facing challenges

Many people know Javier from her appearance on MTV’s “True Life,” but she also made news when she sued California Baptist University in 2013 after they expelled her for not disclosing the fact that she was a trans woman.

“They expelled me for being trans, basically saying that I committed fraud because I put female in my admissions application,” Javier says. “Unfortunately, throughout my career, I have experienced my fair share of discrimination.”

Javier is now an advocate for fighting discrimination in the medical field, especially when it comes to gender. “Nursing is a profession where sex and gender do not matter,” she says. “You can go into a room and take care of your patient regardless of whether you’re male, female, or whatever you identify as. It doesn’t matter. You are a healthcare professional, so you should not be treated any differently regardless of who you are, because you’re there to provide care and you took the oath to give care to those who are in need.”

A ripple effect

Staff discrimination also negatively impacts patients, as discrimination toward nurses and doctors increased the nurse shortage and limited access to care.

“Right now, there is a shortage of nurses all over, especially with that pandemic that kind of caught us out of the blue,” Javier says. “We were all scrambling to figure out what to do.”

When COVID first showed up in the United States, Javier was working at an elderly care facility. “The population that I was working with at the time were predominantly Asian — specifically Chinese — and they had relatives coming from directly from China visiting them. There was no travel ban at the time. It was crazy. Then the pandemic struck, and I remember the shortage of supplies. I remember when we had to reuse our masks, our gowns, because there was such a shortage of supplies. It was very stressful.”

The COVID pandemic revealed the strain that nurses and doctors are put under in their careers and where support is lacking for their own well-being. “It’s really sad when you’re working so hard,” Javier says. “Sometimes you don’t get to even use the bathroom. Sometimes I would be working 14 hours straight, and I would be using the restroom only once because sometimes I forget. It’s terrible.”

Finding solutions

A major corrective for this lack of support would be to increase wages for nurses and doctors, Javier says. “I feel like nurses would feel more appreciated if they are appropriately paid, especially since we were at the front lines. In the back of our heads, we still worry about the bills that need to be paid.”

With all she has experienced in the medical field, Javier remains optimistic about nursing, and she hopes she can lead by example to end discrimination and advocate for better working conditions and wages. “I know one can only dream,” she says. “You think it wouldn’t be so difficult to have simple answers.”

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