On 19th December 2022, although primary care clinics provide many valuable healthcare services to patients, they frequently fall short of providing effective gender-affirming care (GAC), which necessitates empathy, trust, and understanding. Because of this gap in care, the transgender community’s health suffers from a high rate of suicide, substance use disorders, HIV infections, and other health inequities, as well as harassment and discrimination when seeking care.
Kate Steinle, nurse practitioner, Chief Clinical Officer at FOLX Health, and former Planned Parenthood employee, discusses ways to break down these barriers to care and expand access to this historically underserved community in this episode of Healthcare Strategies. Gender-affirming care in primary care settings and telehealth services could increase access and aid in the elimination of certain health disparities in underserved communities.
According to a 2022 UCLA report, the number of transgender teenagers and young adults in the United States has more than doubled in the last five years, with an estimated 1.6 million transgender people 13 and older in the United States alone.
Words of Expert
Steinle mentioned “It is well known now the health disparities this entire community faces. This community has always faced attacks on its visibility.” further added, “However an increasing number of people are identifying as gender variant or gender nonconforming.”
“The younger generation, as they grow, will require more healthcare. Not every healthcare provider needs to be a specialist to provide gender-affirming hormones in order to allow access across the country and minimize barriers.” Steinle added.
Steinle explains that integrating GAC into primary care settings and telehealth services is the best way for the healthcare system to adapt to this growing need for care.
Steinle further explained, “People who live in rural areas and don’t have parents who can drive them three hours away to a city to access a gender-affirming hormone provider can do so through telehealth. People accessing care through telehealth is allowing them to do this on their own time.”
Additionally, healthcare professionals who want to learn more about GAC can benefit from interdisciplinary professional and educational organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), US Professional Association for Transgender Health (US PATH), and the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, a Fenway Institute program.
“In general, this is not cutting-edge medical care. “It’s fairly simple to prescribe, change doses, and review labs.” he further added. “You must be a kind and open person who listens to their patients and participates in some of their education.”
While expanding access seems simple, most providers have not yet received the proper education or training to give appropriate GAC. However, Steinle observes that medical and nursing schools are taking the right steps by incorporating GAC into their curriculum.
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