The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has made recommendations of ways gynecologists can make transgender patients feel more welcome in their offices. Their ideas? Add transgender options to their patient forms, post a non-discrimination policy in their offices, train the staff on treating the patients with sensitivity and offer transgender people the same care other patients get.
Sounds good to us, but we're kinda confused about those last two. Shouldn't medical staff already be sensitive to their patients’ situations? And shouldn’t we have started offering transgender people the same level of care other patients get when we, as a society, recognized their existence?
The recommendations are in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, writes Nicole Brochu of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and it’s likely to be extremely welcome news for transgender patients, 30% of whom put off healthcare visits for fear of discrimination.
A 2011 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 19% of respondents “had been refused care due to their transgender status; 28 percent were subjected to harassment by medical personnel; and 2 percent were victims of violence in doctor's offices.”
Brochu’s story includes interviews with two transgender patients about their leeriness of medical care, one of whom has put off getting a pap smear for more than ten years. In Brochu’s article, Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam, a Fort Lauderdale OB-GYN, is quoted as saying, “It’s a flipping tragedy when you have someone with Stage 4 cervical cancer, and you find out that the reason they haven’t had a pap smear in 20 years is because the first doctor they saw was mean.”
Sam has already taken the ACOG suggestions to heart.
“I feel that the Hippocratic Oath — do no harm — includes ‘have some charm.’ ” she says.
Here, here. Thank goodness for medical care providers like Dr. Sam.