Call us (02) 6162 1924
menu

Transgender For Medical Professionals

Transgender people often face great difficulty when it comes to finding doctors that are appropriately mindful of their needs. Many trans people experience doctors as the gatekeepers that may prevent them from receiving trans-affirming healthcare. Unfortunately, doctors often represent unreasonable barriers and hurdles that transgender people must face to be able to reinforce their gender. Trans people generally rely on word of mouth to find doctors that treat them appropriately. A bad experience can have terrible effects on the emotional well-being of a trans person and as such, this information is shared among their community in order to prevent others from experiencing the same.

Nevertheless, there are many things that doctors can do to improve access to services.

A good starting point when updating services to be trans inclusive is evaluating how patient intake is handled. It is important to ensure that there is space for people to record their name and pronoun\and assurance that those choices will be respected by all staff members. Care should be taken not to use the legal or previous name of a trans person in public areas, as unintentionally outing someone can be very distressing and may expose them to discrimination.

Similarly, care should be taken to respect the gender identity of a patient, especially when they may require tests or procedures that are sex-specific. It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that a man can need a pap smear, or a woman can need a prostate exam, but making these kinds of tests about anatomy and procedure, instead of sex and gender, makes all the difference between being able or unable to access essential healthcare.

Another common barrier to healthcare is the tendency to make other health issues into trans issues. “Trans Broken Arm Syndrome” is a lighthearted name for a serious issue: the idea that seeing a doctor as a trans person with a broken arm could mean facing a lot of additional tests and diagnoses that have nothing to do with the reason they have presented to medical services. These experiences can potentially compromise a trans person’s willingness to access medical care. While understanding that trans people can present as unique cases, it is worth understanding that trans people are often experts regarding their own experiences. It is therefore important to work with them to make sure that trans issues and other health issues are adequately sorted, and that issues that have nothing to do with their trans identity are treated accordingly.

The trans community is very much under-serviced by medical professionals: generally speaking, they receive a disproportionate low level of medical services compared to the general population. For this reason, seeking out specialist training to ensure that doctors, medical staff and administrative teams are respectful to the needs of the trans community is an excellent starting point in rectifying the imbalances and barriers that trans people face when accessing health care. AGA offer such training.

Key Points

  • Evaluating the way that patient intake is handled is a good starting point when updating services to be trans inclusive.
  • It is important to ensure that there is space for people to record their name and pronoun, and that they feel assured that their choices will be respected by all staff members.
  • Care needs to be taken to respect the gender identity of a patient, especially when they may require tests or procedures that are sex-specific.
  • “Trans Broken Arm Syndrome” is a lighthearted name for a serious issue that can prevent trans people from feeling able to access health services.