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Training Tomorrow’s Physicians About Transgender People and Their Health Needs

Post submitted by Ames Simmons

Earlier this month, Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta hosted a panel to equip medical students with knowledge about transgender people’s lives and health needs. Alliance Group, the LGBTQ medical student association, and Health Students Taking Action Together (HSTAT) sponsored the panel. Morehouse School of Medicine is the graduate medical division of the historically black college/university (HBCU) supported by HRC’s HBCU Project.

It was an honor to serve on the all-trans panel along with Tori Cooper of Positive Impact, Dr. A. Daul from Grady Memorial Hospital, Amir Jones of The Health Initiative, Tavianna Rouse of Someone Cares and Sybastian Smith of the Transgender Health Initiative. Topics included stressors and emotional experiences in making the decision to transition, hormone replacement protocols, HIV-related risk factors for the trans community, and access to care.

Students showed a high level of interest in HRC’s guide on transgender affirming hospital policies and how those policies can translate to physician practice. HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index also figured in as the students contemplated where they would complete their residencies and how LGBTQ-friendly their hospital might be as an employer. HRC’s new Safer Sex for Trans Bodies pamphlet also stood out as a primary resource for physicians to learn what transgender people’s sexual health priorities are and the language that we use to describe our bodies, our practices and our care needs.

One medical student said afterward that he had a much firmer footing going into an encounter with a transgender patient. Given newly released data from the U.S. Trans Survey that almost a quarter of respondents did not see a doctor because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, the need for medical training on transgender health has never been more urgent.