Frequently Asked Questions About Sharing Personal Information

As a nationally-recognized leader in health care, Duke Health is committed to providing equitable care to everyone. No matter what your needs may be, you will be seen as a respected partner when you see our providers. As part of creating an inclusive environment, we will ask you about your sexual orientation and gender identity in order to deliver the most appropriate and culturally sensitive health services.

Learn about why and how we ask about your personal information by reading these frequently asked questions and answers.

Research shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) people have health needs that differ from the rest of the population. They also experience higher rates of certain health issues compared to others. Learning about sexual orientation and gender identity will help us deliver appropriate health services and culturally sensitive care to LGBTQ+ patients, and everyone we treat. 

Gender identity is a person’s inner sense of their gender. For example, a person may think of themselves as male, as female, as a combination of male and female, or as another gender. 

Transgender people have a gender identity that is not the same as their sex at birth. Here are the examples we provide for self-identification:

  • Transgender man (female transgender male): Someone assigned female at birth who has a male gender identity. 
  • Transgender woman (male transgender female): Someone assigned male at birth who has a female gender identity. 
  • Nonbinary or genderqueer: Terms that describe someone who has a gender identity that is neither male nor female or is a combination of male and female. 

Sexual orientation is how a person describes their emotional and sexual attraction to others. Here are the examples we provide for self-identification:

  • Heterosexual (straight): Women who are emotionally and sexually attracted to men, and men who are emotionally and sexually attracted to women. 
  • Gay: A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender. It is commonly used when talking about men. 
  • Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. 
  • Bisexual: A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender and people of other genders. 
  • Pansexual: A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people regardless of gender. 
  • Cisgender: A person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth correspond (i.e., a person who is not transgender).
  • Asexual: A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy. 

There are no right or wrong answers. If you don’t find an answer that fits, you can choose “Something else” or “Other,” or you can talk with your doctor. 

Your medical providers will see this information, and it will become part of your medical record. In addition, some Duke staff in clinical spaces will have access to this information. Your information is confidential and protected by law, just like all your other information. 

Providers across Duke Health's network of hospitals and clinics can self-identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally. You can view this list of people to choose one that you feel can offer you the most comfort during your visits.

You have the option to check the box “Choose not to disclose.” Later, a provider may ask you these questions privately during your visit. You can choose whether to share this information at that point, and/or you can ask your doctor more questions. 

Your health care provider is legally required to keep conversations you have with them confidential. They are bound by laws and policies to keep your information private. If you are under 18, your parents may see notes from your doctor with your information on it. If you choose to enter your preferred name, gender identity, and pronouns, all Duke staff will be able to see it. This will make sure we can respect how you identify. When we gather this information, it allows us to see if there are gaps in care or services across different populations. Learning this tells us if we need to improve our care. You can also ask your provider not to enter this information into your medical record.

Providers may not always know what terms you use. Let them know how you describe yourself. For example, say “I identify as nonbinary and don’t use those pronouns. You can use ‘they’ or my name. Thank you.” 

Contact Information

If you shared your personal information in My Duke Health (previously Duke MyChart) and are called by the wrong name or pronouns, please let the provider know and ask them to make sure this important information is updated in your chart. If these errors continue to happen, please contact Duke Patient Relations Department at 919-681-2020 or send an email to