Metro Weekly

Transgender men face discrimination in healthcare


Transgender men face incredible levels of discrimination in the healthcare system, a new study has found.

Almost 42 percent of female-to-male transgender adults have faced verbal and physical abuse, as well as denial of treatment in either a doctor’s office or hospital, Reuters reports.

The study, published in Health and Social Work, drew data from a 2008-2009 survey of over 1,700 male transgender adults, between the ages of 25 to 44. Deirdre Shires, a Doctoral student at Wayne State University in Detroit, led the study — co-authored by Dr. Kim Jaffee — and chose to focus on female-to-male transgender adults as the majority of current research focuses on male-to-female adults.

“Over a third of participants in the study were blatantly mistreated when they tried to get healthcare,” said Shires.

Three-quarters of those surveyed lived as male full-time, with a similar percentage having undergone some manner of medical transition. When discussing their treatment by medical professionals, 28 percent had been refused equal treatment, 32 percent had been verbally harassed, while one percent had been physically assaulted.

Speaking with Reuters, Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth, a psychiatrist at New York University in New York City, stated that, “if 42 percent of that group is reporting discrimination, the number may be even higher for others,” given the study focused predominantly on white, young, college-educated individuals with private health insurance.

For Shires, it’s imperative that we improve the care received by transgender people. The simplest step would be to make it easier for a person to specify their own gender, rather than choose from binary options.

“At every point in the healthcare system if you’re transgender there is no place for you,” she said. “There is no way to identify yourself and it’s a vicious cycle.”

Image Credit: Ted Eytan / Flickr

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at