Race, Ethnicity, Language, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity Questions (REaL and SOGI)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are important to providing equitable services in health care. RWJBarnabas Health is dedicated to understanding our vulnerable populations in order to impact real change in patient outcomes and wellness programs. The collection of REaL and SOGI data allows us to develop care plans that promote health and wellness for all patients.

RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) is committed to our mission to deliver the highest quality health care and advance health equity.

Effective immediately, all RWJBH facilities at point of registration or other points of care will request that patients respond to questions regarding their Race, Ethnicity, preferred Language (REaL), Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), in compliance with state law requiring collection of this data.

RWJBarnabas Health is committed to meeting the health care needs of all patients with respect, dignity and compassion.

Race Ethnicity and preferred Language (REaL) Q&A

Race, Ethnicity and preferred Language data is entered into our health care system data, used and reported as necessary, including providing our patients with equitable care, appropriate language interpretation services and accurate diagnosis and treatment protocols.

Q: What is race?

Race is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as any one of the groups that humans are often divided into based on physical traits regarded as common among people of shared ancestry. The American Medical Association defines race as a socially constructed system of categorizing people that arises to differentiate groups of people in hierarchies to advantage some and disadvantage others.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Q&A

Q: What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation is an inherent or unchangeable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.

  • Lesbian – A person who identifies as a woman and is sexually, romantically, or physically attracted to other women.
  • Gay – A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.
  • Bisexual – A person who is sexually, romantically, or physically attracted to more than one gender.
  • Queer – Describes sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender.
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people may all identify with the word queer.
  • Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality and gender can be complicated, change over time and may not fit neatly into either/or identities, like male or female, gay or straight.
  • Questioning – the process of thinking about, paying attention to or determining one’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.

Q: What is gender identity?

Gender identity is one’s innermost concept of self as male, female, neither or a blend of both; it is how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from the sex assigned at birth.

Q: What is gender expression?

Gender expression is the external appearance of one’s gender identity, which is usually expressed through behavior, clothing, body characteristics or voice, and that may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

Q: What does transgender mean?

  • Transgender people have a gender identity that is not the same as their sex assigned at birth.
  • Cisgender – Cisgender denotes or relates to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their sex assigned at birth.
  • Transgender man (FTM) – Describes someone assigned female at birth who has a male gender identity.
  • Transgender female (MTF) – Describes someone assigned male at birth who has a female gender identity.
  • Non-binary – Describes a gender identity that is neither female nor male; gender identities that are outside of or beyond two traditional concepts of male or female.
  • Gender Queer – A person whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, is between or beyond gender or is some combination of genders. Some gender queer people identify under the transgender umbrella while others do not.
  • Gender diverse or Gender fluid – Describes a person who does not consistently adhere to one fixed gender and who may move among genders.

Q: Why am I asked about my sexual orientation and gender identity?

At RWJBH, we collect SOGI data in compliance with the law and this SOGI data may help clinicians identify and address health care needs of their LGBTQ+ patients.

Asking SOGI-related questions can create an open dialogue with patients who may not be comfortable initiating discussions on this topic.

Q: Who is being asked about SOGI?

All RWJBH patients 18 years and older.

Information Collection Q&A

Q: Who will see this information?

Members of your health care team will see this information. This information will become part of your medical record and will be kept confidential in accordance with all regulatory and privacy (HIPAA) requirements and the laws of the State of New Jersey.

Q: How will my REaL information be used?

We will use this information to identify and address any gaps in care among our diverse patient populations.

Q: Who can I ask questions about this?

The hospital registration team or any team member taking care of you will be happy to answer any of your questions.

Q: How do I choose the correct information?

There are no right or wrong answers. If an answer does not best describe you, you can select “other” or you can speak with a member of your care team.

Q: What do the acronyms REaL and SOGI stand for?

R = Race
E = Ethnicity (a = and)
L = Language (REaL)

S = Sexual
O = Orientation
G = Gender
I = Identity (SOGI)

Download REaL and SOGI PDF English Download REaL and SOGI PDF Spanish


  1. New Jersey law N.J.S.A. 45:9-42.47 and N.J.S.A. 26:2H-5.36
  2. State of New Jersey Department of Health REaL and SOGI Guidance Memorandum
  3. New Jersey REaL and SOGI Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Race: definition and meaning (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
  5. Ethnic: definition and meaning (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
  6. Sexual orientation and gender identity: definitions (Human Rights Campaign)
  7. Defining racism is key to helping doctors advance health equity (American Medical Association)

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