Member of the LBGTQ community and activist with the National Center for Transgender Equality,1 he said some transgender patients choose not to seek medical care, due to a lack of empathy and understanding on the part of health care providers for their needs.
“It’s pretty common,” Bailey said in an interview.
“You have to change the way you think about the patient,” he said. “Where is this person in their gender statement?” “
As an example, Bailey described a transgender man with a urinary tract infection (UTI) whose provider refused to listen to why it might be necessary to explore treatment for the disease.
In this case, the patient still has female genitals and was more likely to be diagnosed with a UTI than if they had male genitals.
“We base a lot of our care on what we see entering the room. This can create an uncomfortable situation, ”Bailey said.
“You might have a transgender woman who needs a prostate exam,” he said.
In pharmacies, transgender patients on hormone therapy have reported that pharmacists question the need for a drug.
In some cases, pharmacists have been aggressive and vocal, Bailey said.
As a result, patients can be referred to other pharmacy customers.
“I see this all the time in community and retail pharmacies. There really is no privacy for patients, ”Bailey said.
However, he said he sees ways to make progress in building comfort and trust between transgender people and healthcare professionals. His course aims to instill in students these practices:
- Educate yourself and understand a patient’s goals for gender affirmation. Not all transgender patients strive for 100% gender affirmation, Bailey said.
- Ensure that the environment supports all gender identities. A simple sign or having a washroom available for transgender patients can help.
- Medical settings should have systems in place that document a person’s sex, gender identity and where the person is in their affirmation process.
- Medical staff should be trained on how to communicate effectively with transgender patients. Ask “what is your favorite pronoun?” “And be respectful,” Bailey said.
In his two-part course, he said he uses the first semester to develop empathy for transgender patients and to emphasize the need for comfort and confidence. In the second semester, the course focuses more on medical challenges specific to the transgender community.
By better understanding the transgender community, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes.
Rates of human immunodeficiency virus infection and injection drug use are often higher among the transgender population, according to Shenandoah University.
During this time, avoiding medical examinations and proper treatment can contribute to poorer health outcomes.1
Bailey started working on the course about 3 years ago, after arriving at Shenandoah University from Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy in New Orleans. At the time, the course included other specific population groups but was not aimed at the transgender community.
He said he didn’t wait for Shenandoah University to approve the inclusion of transgender issues, but the topic was well received.
“I just did it and fit it in,” Bailey said. “The university has been very inclusive of the transgender community.”
So far, Bailey has had 2 groups of students who have completed both parts of the course, and 1 has completed the empathy part.
The program is having a positive impact on many of these students, some of whom had previously worked with medical providers who were confused with transgender patients, he said.
Feedback on the course has been mostly positive, Bailey said.
However, a small number of students expressed unease with the program’s focus on transgender patients.
“It’s very difficult at first for them to understand,” Bailey said. “It’s always an area that people are learning. “
Across healthcare, more action is being taken to better address the specific challenges of the transgender community. In addition to the course at Shenandoah University, 2 other entities recently announced new programming geared towards these patients.2-3
In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Children’s Pediatric Health System said this month it is launching a multidisciplinary gender health program to provide comprehensive care to youth who identify as gender heterogeneous or transgender.2
And in March, Backpack Health, a digital tools provider that offers resources for health management, said it was launching a dedicated group for non-binary and transgender people within the data management platform. health of the company.3
- A new transgender care program. News from Shenandoah University. November 27, 2018. su.edu/blog/2018/11/a-new-curriculum/. Accessed April 15, 2019.
- Children’s Minnesota launches multidisciplinary gender health program for transgender and heterogeneous youth [news release]. Minneapolis, Minnesota; April 2, 2019: Minnesota children’s website. childrensmn.org/2019/04/02/childrens-minnesota-launches-multidisciplinaire-gender-health-program-transgender-gender-diverse-youth/. Accessed April 19, 2019.
- To address health access challenges for the transgender and non-binary community, Backpack Health creates a dedicated group on its health data management platform [news release]. Dover, MA; March 26, 2019: Backpack health. prnewswire.com/news-releases/addressing-health-access-challenges-for-transgender-and-non-binary-community-backpack-health-establishes-dedicated-group-on-its-health-data-management-platform- 300817629.html. Accessed April 19, 2019.