“Even Five Years Ago this Would Have Been Impossible:” Health Care Providers’ Perspectives on Trans* Health Care

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Henry, Richard S.
gender identity; medical care; barriers; LGBT; cultural competency
thesis / dissertation description
Trans* studies and issues have recently increased in coverage by the media and popular press. With recent changes in the DSM-5 (APA, 2000; APA 2013) and insurance law (HHS, 2014), trans* healthcare has been under increasing scrutiny. While a small number of studies (Bradford, Reisener, Honnold, & Xavier, 2013; Grant et al., 2011; Rounds, McGrath, & Walsh, 2013; Tanner et al., 2014) have documented discrimination and lack of cultural competencies from the perspective of trans* patients, little research exists that examines the training, support, and decision-making processes of medical professionals who treat trans* patients (Snelgrove et al., 2012, p. 2). The goal of this research study is to explore the training and cultural competencies of healthcare professionals in treating trans* patients by surveying and interviewing healthcare professionals about their experiences of trainings, familiarity with practices/protocols, and attitudes toward treating trans* patients. A survey of 35 health care professionals and nine interviews were conducted. These health care professionals, while generally accepting of trans* individuals, still had some reservations about working with trans* patients and suggested that there were many barriers and challenges to providing trans* health care. A majority of health care professionals had little or no familiarity with treatment protocols or diagnoses for trans* patients, and very few had received any type of training (formal or informal) before or after starting working in the health care about trans* patients. While there are many areas in which there perceived challenges and barriers to care, several participants did observe that there has been a shift in health care recently that is moving towards being more inclusive and responsive to trans* patients.