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An Introduction to Transgender Care for Allies

At Modern Gynecology & Reproductive Health or MORE, we believe in making compassionate transgender care part of our mission in providing healthcare. Understanding the needs of the transgender community should be a goal for all of us. As awareness and understanding grow, misinformation and discrimination also become more overt. Given the prevalence of the number of individuals that identify as transgender and non-binary, we will all know, befriend or work with transgender people.

The stated prevalence of individuals identifying as transgender is 0.5%. In the Memphis area that would be 30,000-50,000 people

Before we discuss trans care in more detail, it is helpful to understand terminology:

Cis & Trans are prefixes used to identify gender identity. These terms come from chemistry in which a “cis” bond is on the same side of a molecule as carbon and a “trans” bond is on the opposite site.

Terminology is ever changing & fluid, but there are some stable terms

 

A few important things to remember:

Transgender people were not “previously a man or a woman”. They were always the gender that they identify with, whether or not they expressed or shared that information.

A very good way to think about this is considering “handedness”. Most people are right or left-handed, some are ambidextrous and use both hands. The decision about what hand to use is not a choice, it is hard wired into the brain. People can be forced or potentially trained to use the opposite hand, but they are still wired to instinctually use either right or left hand.

 

What issues to transgender people face on a daily basis?

 These issues are prevalent, even within healthcare. 30% of transgender people avoid going to the doctor out of fear. 50% have had to teach or train their provider about significant issues relating to their healthcare. At MORE, we strive to eliminate these concerns and provide compassionate, comprehensive care to ALL of our patients. How do we achieve that goal?

 Our tenets of transgender care

 

Take home messages

There is no one “Right Way” to do transgender transition. Every person has different needs and expectations. It is vital that each individual is treated with respect and support through this process.

Consider your use of language in general and try to avoid gendered language when it is not necessary. For example, use words like “sibling” and “partner or spouse” and do not immediately assume that you know an individual’s gender. Add your pronouns to email communications and other appropriate correspondence.

Make it a priority to listen and then listen again to what trans people are saying. Respect what you hear and challenge yourself to be more intentional about your interactions.

 

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Author
Susan Lacy MD FACOG Dr. Susan Lacy is the founder of Modern Gynecology & Reproductive Health & MORE Aesthetics.

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