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Doctors Lack Training On Transgender Needs

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Being transgender can be difficult.

There’s the emotional aspect of growing up feeling different, the social aspect of coming out, and the hope for acceptance.

The medical part can be difficult, too.

For many, it’s hard to find a doctor, and even friendly doctors can lack proper training.

That’s where the Transgender Health Conference in Reno comes in.

Brooke Maylath is the president of Transgender Allies Group in Reno. She said trans people often have to teach their doctors about trans health issues.

“Fifty-percent of doctors trans people go to need to be trained by the patient as to how to treat us,” she said.

And to make matters worse, even though it is illegal, 19 percent of trans people are refused treatment by physicians. 

Maylath said part of the problem is some doctors believe managing the hormonal treatments for patients is difficult.

“If you talk to any endocrinologist, they will tell you that managing cross-gender hormone treatment is easier to manage than managing a diabetic patient," she said, "yet, because so many doctors have not had any formal training school, they think it is the weird mysterious thing and they haven’t had to opportunity or felt the need to learn.”

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A part of the Transgender Health Conference will be a webinar titled Cultural Competencies in Transgender Healthcare. The webinar will be available across the state. Maylath said it will be a way for doctors in rural areas to ask questions to specialists.

“One of the most important pieces for a primary care physician to understand is how do you make the patient comfortable," she said. "What are the issues your frontline staff need to understand? Along with, what does the doctor need to be able to ask and talk about with the patient to give the most appropriate and affirming care?"

The Community Health Alliance will be at the conference to provide basic health screenings with an eye on making sure trans people are comfortable with the community health clinic. 

“Those are the things that we are actually thinking about … How does absolutely everyone feel when they’re walking into our health center doors," clinic spokesperson Afton Neufeld told KNPR's State of Nevada. "We pride ourselves on being a safe space. So how are we making sure all of our front desk staff are trained on that.”

Maylath said most of what trans people are visiting a healthcare provider for is the same as anyone else.

“We need modest medical care in some cases in a clinical setting to be able to feel our best and to be to integrate into society and be whole,” she said. 

 

Guests

Brooke Maylath, president, Transgender Allies Group; Afton Neufeld, spokesperson, Community Health Alliance

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Ryan Brazell (top left) has his vitals checked by Afton Bradley at the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood in Richmond, Va. Bradley makes sure the clinic is sensitive to the needs of trans patients.
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