A new article in USA Today covers the many health care disparities and barriers to care still faced by transgender and gender non-conforming people. Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, Director of Education and Training Programs at the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute, as well as Fenway’s Transgender Health Program, were featured prominently in the article.
About 1.4 million American identify as transgender, according to a 2016 Williams Institute report, and the majority of them struggle to find doctors or insurance policies that are supportive of transgender health needs. The National Center for Transgender Equality found that 55 percent of transgender people reported that insurance denied coverage for their gender-affirming surgery, and a quarter reported being denied coverage for hormone therapy. On the heels of a leaked anti-transgender memo from the Trump Administration that seeks to narrowly define sex, many transgender people and allies worry that accessing gender-affirming care will become even more difficult.
Even without potential federal or insurance barriers, many providers are simply unable – or, in far too many cases, unwilling – to treat transgender patients. As the article states:
Keuroghlian describes health systems as not inclusive, such as through lacking clear anti-discrimination policies regarding gender identity and expression or failing to communicate it to patients and staff. Front desk staff aren’t often taught to talk with transgender people in a culturally competent way, such as using correct pronouns and names.
Clinicians don’t learn about gender-affirming care in basic training, either.
“We have a workforce of clinicians who, for the most part, don’t know the basics of how to care for transgender people,” Keuroghlian says.
The article follows the journeys of several transgender people, including two current Fenway Health patients. “Fenway provides a model for transgender health care,” the article notes. “From primary care providers, including gender-affirming care and routine preventative screenings, pediatrics family medicine, behavioral health services, case management to the front desk, everyone is trained to work with transgender patients.”
To read the full article, please click here.
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