Care gaps persist for transgender patients

hospital

Though the healthcare industry has made strides toward meeting the needs of transgender patients, gaps for trans men and women persist.

Transgender patients are unlikely to seek needed preventive care and screenings for parts of their bodies associated with their birth gender as they transition, according to an article in The New York Times. Trans men, for instance, may avoid routine gynecological exams and breast cancer screenings, as was the case for Eli Oberman, who at 27 was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Because he had not yet had any surgeries to physically change his body, and was instead taking hormone therapies during his transition, Oberman was at risk for cervical, uterine and breast cancers, according to the article. When he went in for his cancer treatments, he was the lone man in the room, and faced both uncomfortable curiosity and mockery from the healthcare workers who treated him.

Oberman’s case is not uncommon, according to the article. But healthcare organizations have made significant progress: the country’s first transgender health program opened in 2015 at Oregon Health & Science University, and surgical options for transgender patients continue to grow, FierceHealthcare has previously reported.

Barbara E. Warren, a psychologist and director of LGBT programs at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, told The Times that healthcare for transgender patients is “unbelievably better” than it was in previous decades, but admitted there is still work to be done.

Mount Sinai, for its part, recently opened a Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery and trains employees on etiquette for dealing with trans patients, including addressing them by the correct pronouns, according to the article. Studies have shown that such training is an effective way to ease the stress of medical care for transgender patients.