By: Akshaya Sivakumar
Every person, regardless of their gender identity, deserves quality healthcare that respects their case-specific needs. For the transgender community, obtaining equitable and humanistic healthcare presents many challenges; for this reason, society must begin to prioritize inclusivity and accessibility in healthcare, especially as it pertains to transgender community members.
Note that the umbrella term “transgender” applies to all individuals with gender identities that misalign with their natal sexes or sexes assigned at birth. This identity encompasses a diverse range of genders beyond the traditional male and female binary. Transgender people may identify as male, female, or non-binary, or may use other terms to describe their gender identity. To create an inclusive environment, it proves crucial to respect each person by using their preferred name and pronouns.
The obstacles encountered by transgender people when seeking healthcare can significantly impact their wellbeing and arise from a range of factors, including broader societal attitudes, systemic structures, and personal circumstances. A primary challenge presents itself in discrimination. Discrimination, societal attitudes, misconceptions, and prejudices have resulted in the denial of healthcare services for many transgender people– from subtle shows of biases to outright refusals. Insurance companies often pose a similar challenge. Gender-affirming treatments and surgeries, which exist as crucial care measures for many individuals, have restrictions, providing numerous trans folk with extraordinarily limited coverage and creating significant financial barriers. A dearth of the financial means needed to seek gender-affirming services often prevents human beings from accessing the healthcare they crave and deserve.
Possible solutions and potential changes in transgender healthcare include educating and training healthcare providers to enhance their understanding of the transgender needs, advocating for policy changes on the behalf of this marginalized group, and performing community outreach. The establishment of comprehensive education and training programs may serve to enhance healthcare providers' understanding of transgender and LGBTQIA+ healthcare. These programs will help ensure that healthcare professionals obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver inclusive care, use respectful language, and communicate respectfully with transgender patients. Advocating for policy changes will also act as a critical step towards improving transgender healthcare: policy changes such as the removal of the “Mississippi state law which explicitly allows private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for minors, as part of its statewide ban on medical care for Transgender youth” (lgbtqmap.org). Last but not least, community outreach comprises another important aspect of improving transgender healthcare. By engaging with local LGBTQIA+ organizations and hosting workshops to address the specific needs and challenges faced by transgender folks in accessing healthcare, we can help create a lasting impact on transgender lives and collective wellbeing.
In conclusion, inclusive and accessible healthcare for the trans population requires education, policy changes, and community outreach. The obstacles encountered by transgender individuals in accessing healthcare have a profound impact on their overall wellbeing. Together, we can pave the way to a future where the transgender community receives the same medical respect, support, and understanding as everyone else.