Inclusive Healthcare is Basic Healthcare
What does it mean to provide inclusive, gender-affirming healthcare?
All people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, have rights that need to be respected and responsibilities that need to be exercised.
-Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Values Statement
What is Gender-Affirming Care?
Gender-affirming care is defined as ideal medical, surgical and mental health services sought by transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.
In addition to the barriers that many people face when seeking healthcare, transgender and non-binary clients have some unique barriers that often go unaddressed. From filling out forms, to the language used in a medical office, to insurance coverage, these clients may find obtaining healthcare more traumatic, difficult, or even impossible.
Everyone’s gender identity is personal. It is critical for healthcare professionals of all ranks to provide services that are inclusive to all people of all gender identities.
What can you do to better provider gender-affirming care?
Don’t be another barrier for people who deserve quality care.
28% of trans and gender non-conforming people have postponed medical care when sick or injured due to discrimination and disrespect.
Here are some important things to consider and changes you can make to be sure you’re providing inclusive healthcare to all:
- Update your forms: Include a space for ‘preferred name’ and ‘preferred pronoun’, and consider having one health history form (instead of separate male and female forms).
- Make bathrooms unisex: This may seem small, but making the bathrooms unisex can make patients feel more at ease, and removes another gender-strict barrier from their experience.
- Use the proper language: Some patients may be uncomfortable using anatomical language when it comes to their body. For example, the word ‘vagina’ may cause discomfort in patients who do not feel comfortable with that part of their body. In a sensitive way, ask your patients how they prefer to talk about their body and what makes them feel safe.
- Be educated on drug interactions: Some patients may be on hormone therapy regimens. Many providers do not know how certain drugs will interacts with these hormones. Education is key in providing the safest care for your patients.
- Do not assume their sexual orientation: If it is necessary to ask if a patient is sexually active and with whom, please let your patients self-describe. You may also simply ask: “Are you currently sexually active? If so, is it with one or more genders?”
- Understand that they may need services or care that you cannot provide: It could be beneficial to provide pamphlets with LGBTQ and other gender-affirming healthcare providers you can refer them to for specific needs outside your area of practice. This allows you to be as supportive and helpful as possible.
We all have a responsibly to be kind to others—this is one step in the right direction for gender-affirming care.
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