10 tips for clinicians working with trans and gender diverse people

Working with gender diverse people comes with it's own unique challenges. Here are ten tips to help you as a clinician or allied health provider to be able to provide the best, most respectful and inclusive care to your gender diverse patients.

1. Ask, don’t assume

Just because someone ‘looks like’ a particular gender doesn’t mean we identify that way. Ask what name and pronoun we use, note our name and pronouns on intake forms, and use it consistently.

It’s good practice to introduce yourself with your name and pronoun. It demonstrates that you’re thinking and working inclusively, and you know that pronouns are universal.

2. Often it’s not even about gender

Asking unnecessary questions about our bodies or genitals doesn’t generally support the building of strong relationships with trans people. If you are treating a sprained arm, focus on the arm. Respect the privacy of the patient, and ensure that they are treated professionally and compassionately.

3. Being inclusive takes some unlearning

Describe people by features, rather than perceived gender. “The person in the blue coat” or “the patient with a red scarf” is more accurate than “that man over there”.

4. Affirming words empower people

Many people, including trans people, can have complicated relationships with our bodies. Asking us what terms we prefer for our body and/or body parts, and then using those terms can help us feel empowered and affirmed.

5. Stay trauma-informed

Remember that trans people are more likely to have been harassed, shamed, and even assaulted in healthcare settings, so ask permission before touching us and give clear information about any procedures that you need to perform.

6. Three is a crowd

Don’t bring additional personnel into the room without consent (including other doctors, medical students, or nursing staff). Treating trans people like case studies can feel like you are de-personalising, shaming, or harassing us.

7. Three ain’t a crowd

Respect that trans people may prefer to bring a “safe person” or patient advocate into appointments.

If you have to deliver something where another person cannot be in the room, such as a domestic violence screening, be clear about why they will need to step outside for a moment.

8. Show you care

Seeing our lives represented and affirmed goes a long way toward helping us feel comfortable and welcome. Consider visible cues such as trans-specific literature and posters in your reception and clinic rooms. Download resources at www.transhub.org.au

9. Treat the individual

No gender affirmation is the same – medical affirmation is deeply personal.

Some trans people don’t undergo any medical affirmation, and some do; and medical affirmation may or may not include surgeries. It’s important to respect that our personal needs are medically necessary and critical to our health. Ask about our needs in a supportive, solution focused manner.

10. Remembering person-centred care

In all work with trans people, focusing on person-centred care is critical; our needs and desires should direct treatment goals and methods. Coordinating medical care with various specialties (such as endocrinologists and peer support) should be a priority, in order to effectively treat the whole person in an affirming, empowering manner.

Adapted with permission from Rad Remedy www.radremedy.org

Did you know there is a Gender Affirming Doctor list for the CESPHN region?

Find out more here