Race, Ethnicity, Language, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity Questions

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are extremely important to providing equitable services in healthcare. RWJBarnabas Health is committed to understanding its vulnerable populations 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 to all patients.

RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) is committed to meeting the healthcare needs of all patients with respect, dignity, and compassion.

Effective immediately, all RWJBH facilities ask patients voluntary questions regarding Race, Ethnicity, and preferred Language (REaL), and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) in compliance with our mission to deliver the highest quality healthcare and in compliance with state legislation regarding recording, reporting and training requirements for race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity of patients, as required by N.J.S.A. 45:9-42.47 and N.J.S.A 26:2H-5.36.

Our patient access representatives, registration and other staff members ask REaL and SOGI questions.

These questions are consistent with RWJBarnabas Health’s non-discrimination policies and federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination; and they promote our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Race Ethnicity and preferred Language (REaL) Q&A

The collection of Race, Ethnicity and preferred Language (REaL) data is entered into our healthcare system databases to ensure that all of our patients receive equitable care, appropriate language interpretation services, and valuable race, gender at birth, and age-specific information used for accurate diagnosis and treatment protocols.

Q: What is race?

Race is defined 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 identifies as a man and is sexually, romantically, or physically attracted to other men.
  • 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 might not fit neatly into either/or identities, like male or female, gay or straight.
  • Questioning – the process of thinking about, paying attention to, or figuring out one 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, or a blend of both or neither—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?

The external appearance of one’s gender identity which is usually expressed through behavior, clothing, body characteristics or voice, and which 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 genders, or is some combination of genders. Some genderqueer 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?

We value our patients at RWJBarnabas Health. We want to ensure that we identify our patients appropriately. Every patient has unique health needs. At RWJBH, we collect SOGI data at the point of registration for all patients, which translates into access to SOGI data for clinicians. Knowing SOGI data helps clinicians identify needs and address health disparities that may affect LGBTQ+ patients. In addition, gathering additional information about sexual behavior and anatomy also helps clinicians best support their 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?

We are asking all RWJBH patients about SOGI.

Information Collection Q&A

Q: Who will see this information?

Members of your healthcare 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 information be used?

We will use this information to best meet your healthcare needs. In addition, gathering this information from you tells us whether there are gaps in care among our diverse 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 question that you may have about why you are being asked about your race, ethnicity, preferred language, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Q: How do I choose the correct information?

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


  1. Race definition and meaning – Merriam-Webster
  2. Defining racism is key to helping doctors advance health equity – American Medical Association
  3. Ethnic definition and meaning – Merriam-Webster
  4. Sexual orientation and gender identity definitions – Human Rights Campaign

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