March 2013 marked the launch of the first-ever National Month of Action for Transgender Healthcare—a campaign to make transgender-inclusive healthcare more common, accessible and affordable. The national effort was organized by a number of labor and community organizations, including CIR’s national affiliate, Service Employees International Union.
CIR joined in the conversation with Dr. Madeline (“Maddie”) Deutsch, a former CIR delegate and founder of the Transgender Health Program at Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC).
After attending the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association conference in San Francisco in the fall of 2012, CIR members from ACMC became interested in finding ways to work more closely with the LGBT population. Dr. Deutsch presented “Transgender Patients & Health Care Providers: How to Become a Better Provider to Your Patients.” It was a discussion that provided strategies for care and data on the economic, social and political realities for the diverse transgender communities throughout the U.S.
According to recent research, about 1 in 200 to 1 in 300 people fall on the transgender spectrum. According to a study by the Transgender Law Center transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to the general population, and transgender women are 34 times more likely than the general population to contract HIV. While the overwhelming majority of transgender people lack health coverage, it is estimated that 76 percent gain access to hormone therapy either via a medical professional or on the black market. Dr. Deutsch’s talk also provided important tips on how physicians can create a more trans-friendly atmosphere in their practice.
What you need to know about treating transgender patients
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported that 50 percent of transgender patients reported having to teach their providers about transgender health. The study also showed that transgender people of color have an unemployment rate of up to four times the general population.
Here are some key terms and concepts to help you better treat your transgender patients:
- Transgender is an umbrella term for people that have some type of gender presentation or gender identity that’s different from what you would expect from someone born in that body.
- If a person is born female and presents as male then they are a transgender man.
- If a person is born male and presents as female they are a transgender woman.
- Some people may or may not have a gender presentation that is discernible.
- People whose sex match their gender presentation are cisgender.
Best Practices for Physicians
- Identify people by their gender presentation.
- Remember that if the person has an organ, it must be screened.