Transgender people in America and elsewhere in the world still face health disparities often tied to stigma and discrimination. However, a new move from the American Medical Association might just help reduce that disparity.
During the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago earlier this week, the association's House of Delegates, which sets policies for the AMA, announced new sets of policies to better serve transgender patients.
The new policies require that transgender people be allowed to use public facilities that correspond to their gender identity, and call upon the AMA to work with the Food and Drug Administration to establish a gender-neutral patient category.
"Prejudice and discrimination affect transgender individuals in many ways throughout their daily lives, often in the form of physical or verbal abuse or bullying," Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, member of the AMA Board of Trustees, said at the meeting.
Transgender people who live in states with discriminatory policies have "statistically significant increases in mental health and psychiatric diagnoses," according to a resolution the delegates adopted.
The delegates directed the AMA to work with other appropriate organizations to "inform and educate the medical community and the public on the medical spectrum of gender identity," stating that gender is “incompletely understood as a binary selection” because gender, gender identity, and genotypic and phenotypic sex are not always aligned.
Earlier this year, the British Medical Association also issued guidelines warning doctors to refer to people as "pregnant people" instead of "expectant mothers," to avoid offending or excluding transgender or intersex individuals.
Though these may seem like small steps, instituting policies and guidelines that clearly outline how trans patients should be treated could help to curb the discrimination they face from medical professionals who may not be aware of how their actions affect patients.
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