Gynecologists told to prepare to treat transgender patients

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has come out with a new statement for their members: it’s time to prepare to work with transgender patients.

To address the significant health care disparities of transgender individuals and to improve their access to care, ob-gyns should prepare to provide routine treatment and screening or refer them to other physicians, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College). In a Committee Opinion published today, The College also states its opposition to gender identity discrimination and supports both public and private health insurance coverage for gender identity disorder treatment.

I have criticized ACOG in the past for their policies regarding home birth and midwifery care, but this statement is really good news and an important step for transgender health care.

Their statement specifically addresses the gynecological needs of transgender men, who may still require cervical and breast cancer screenings, as well as other gynecological (and even obstetric) care.

“We need to make our offices settings that treat all patients with respect,” said Dr. Buyers. The College offers ob-gyns suggestions on how to create an office environment that is welcoming to transgender patients. For instance, asking patients their preferred name and pronoun, posting non-discrimination policies, ensuring confidentiality, and offering sensitivity training for staff are all steps that signal acceptance and let patients know that they will be treated with dignity. “We want the transgender community to know that we, as ob-gyns, care about their health.”

I hope that their members follow this important advice.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted November 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    What an important issue to spread awareness on! Transgenders are so often excluded from our heterosexually-based society and often times their needs are not met. We need to move past this “old-school” realm of thinking that includes and recognizes only two genders, and be more open to others and the choices they make. The blog I write for strongly supports and stands for social justice for all. Check us out at http://www.wtfcsusm.wordpress.com!

    Michaella

    • Posted November 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Hey, Michaella, it’s awesome that you’re supportive of trans people, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t alert you to some issues with the terminology that you use. And I’d just like to preface my statements by saying that this isn’t an attack on you in any way, it may sound like that because of the way I word things, but it’s not intended to be.

      First, using “transgenders” instead of trans people or transgender people labels us as “other” or “outsider” (and being the neurotic grammar nazi that I am, it also grammatically sounds wrong :P ).

      Second, you should say “…hetero-normative society” instead of “…heterosexually-based society” because sexuality and gender (identity/expression) are independent things that aren’t inextricably connected.

      And finally, “…and the choices they make. ” being trans is not a choice, it’s the way we were born and the medical community is finding more and more corroborating evidence that proves that very point. The only “choice” that I’ve made in regards to this journey was to stop denying myself and to start living a complete and much happier life.

      Again, thank you for being an ally to the trans community, we need all of the support we can get. And I hope I didn’t come across as angry or hostile in any way, I’ve been perceived that way recently when it wasn’t intended.

      *hugs* <3 :3
      May the Force be with You, Always!

  2. Posted November 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m not hopeful, based on the widespread ignorance in the medical profession regarding Intersex people. A separate, but related issue.

    It will take at least a generation, perhaps two, to set things right, if we start now. We have to train the trainers.

  3. Posted December 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Why are gynecologists given the option of referring transgender patients? Are doctors routinely offered the option of sending away patients whose religion, skin color, or national origin the doctor finds offensive? If not, then why is it all right to behave that way toward trans people? We already know what kind of care we get when providers feel free to refuse us as patients.

    One thing gynecologists could do to make their offices more accessible would be to work with their office staff to ensure that when a man calls to make an appointment for gyn care, that he isn’t turned away automatically. I’ve been in exactly this position, stating very clearly over the phone that I am a trans man, and needed an appointment for gyn care. Sad to say, I met such thorough ignorance in the person who took my call that I was literally unable to get an appointment.

    • Posted December 9, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Yes. My first thought was, “perhaps they were talking about referring patients for care outside their scope of practice” (which is SOP, and perfectly appropriate) but in context it reads as “If you’re not prepared to provide care, send them to someone else.” As much as I prefer not to be treated by physicians who are prejudiced, ACOG shouldn’t be legitimizing that prejudice, and even mentioning referrals appears to do that, despite their no-discrimination statement. If that’s not what they meant, they need to fix the statement.

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