A fast developing social community, a faster developing medical community. ￼
-Written by Rahul Mody
In this day and age, medicine faces a new challenge. While society has turned to a more rapid pace of development, the medical community must be the first to act in response to these changes. The integration of medical practices and social sensitivity is at an all time high as gender and sexual preferences have changed the norm of general society. Compared to the stance of society just 50 years ago, people have become more open and vocal of their stance on gender dysmorphia and transgender treatment. Society has become more knowledgeable and aware regarding the problems people of the LGBTQ+ community have been facing and this has led to rapid developments in the medical practices as well. At the same time, doctors themselves must become more socially aware of these challenges. It is said that at some point in their career, all healthcare professionals will find themselves having to support and care for a transgender or gender diverse individual. And so, education and social sensitivity have become two sides of the same coin.
Firstly, we must understand some general terminologies when it comes to gender diverse or transgender individuals.
Transgender (a.k.a. Trans) is an umbrella term used to describe people who’s gender identity does not match their assigned gender at birth.
Under this we have Trans Women who were assigned male at birth but identify as female and we have Trans Men who were assigned female at birth but identify as male. These people may or may not have undergone any form of transition.
We also have Gender Diverse people who have gender identities that don’t match the general sexes assigned at birth. These include people who are non-binary, gender expansive, gender non conforming, and others who do not identify as cisgender.
The most important point to be noted regardless of all these societal changes is that healthcare workers have a primary commitment to quality healthcare with the goal of improving lives and lifestyles. They must treat individuals regardless of their medical history and social background. They must have a completely non-judgmental approach to healthcare and must give adequate attention to not bring personal preferences and opinions to the table of discussion. Healthcare professionals, in general, should have substantial knowledge and education around transgender treatment and care. Moreover, it is the healthcare professionals themselves that must support gender diverse people to care for themselves through provision of reliable information or access to medication, self-testing, and other self-care practices.
Hormonal therapy, genitourinary reconstructive surgery, and chest surgery are just some of the many medical procedures that healthcare professionals must familiarize themselves with when dealing with transgender patients. Quality care is an age-old concept that is always rapidly evolving in this field. However, the concept of quality care needs to move beyond the realm of purely medical knowledge and content. Doctors must consider the social and psychological well being of these individuals. The extent of mental illnesses among transgender people is quite vast as they are constantly under the social radar. In today’s time, it is unacceptable to simply ignore the needs of the LGBTQ+ community as their numbers continue to grow. There must be a clear understanding and interrelationship between healthcare services and government programs to invest in training programs for healthcare professionals. There also needs to be more researches done and made available on people belonging to these communities. Often times, studies exclude people undergoing hormonal therapy and considering the increase in the number of transgender patients, this is no longer feasible for modern medicine.
As the societies of the world around us are constantly changing and adapting, it is the primordial mission of the medical industry to support and adapt to these changes as well. It is not the job of healthcare systems to change societal norms but rather to support and help them grow and develop. People are ever changing and so are the practices of medicine. The changes in approach to transgender medicine starts with education in medical schools. As Hippocrates rightfully once said, “Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.”