Understanding transgender healthcare

Paul Hayes

6/11/2017 11:01:37 AM

The CSIRO’s Sexual Health journal has a special issue focusing on transgender health, an increasingly important – but potentially underserved – area of modern general practice.

Transgender health is becoming increasingly important in general practice.
Transgender health is becoming increasingly important in general practice.

The ‘Caring for transgender people: Looking beyond the hype’ issue of the CSIRO’s Sexual Health journal contains a collection of articles aimed at addressing healthcare and non-healthcare issues faced by transgender people.

Subjects covered include the role of primary care, sexual health education in schools, the need for accurate epidemiological measurements, the dangers of inaccurate diagnostic labels of transgender children, legal areas, and the prevalence of HIV/STIs in this patient population.
‘We need to think critically, constructively and compassionately about transgender people,’ Dr Jason Ong, sexual health physician and an editor of the special issue, told newsGP. ‘Particularly, we must look beyond the hype and objectively consider the evidence, without forgetting the people who are trying to cope with feelings that may be causing them great distress.’
Clare Headland, a 70-year-old transgender woman, lived with what she described as overwhelming feelings of depression and shame until she discovered the idea that she was a transgender person at the age 65. Her healthcare journey highlights the importance of understanding transgender issues in general practice.
Clare initially found many GPs were not sufficiently equipped to help her.
‘I went to several GPs, all of whom were sympathetic and listened. But they were totally unprepared,’ she told newsGP.
When she did eventually discover a general practice that recognised and understood her needs, however, Clare was put on the path to the care she required.
‘I made an appointment to see a doctor there … and for the first time, I walked in as a male and I said, this is how I’ve been feeling all these years, this is what I’ve found on the internet, this is how I feel, this is what I’ve experienced as far as depression,’ she said.
Clare was soon referred to a gender clinic and began the process of transitioning.
‘I would kiss [the GP’s] feet if he were standing here, and all the lovely doctors at that clinic. They were all so gracious and so accepting,’ she said.

CSIRO transgender transgender-health

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