Addressing the health care needs of people who identify as transgender: What do nurses need to know?

Ilana Boucher, Sharon L. Bourke, Janet Green, Elianna Johnson, Linda K. Jones


Being transgender (TG) is part of the natural spectrum of human diversity, and its visibility has increased with societal change. The TG population is comprised of individuals identifying themselves as the opposite gender to that which they were born. Adult TG people are calculated as a part of Australia’s non-heterosexual marginal population; therefore, exact numbers are unknown. As a result of not being recognised, TG people have faced multiple challenges, fairing worse in all socioeconomic and health measures, including not being able to afford and access appropriate healthcare. Many of these challenges arise from a lack of understanding resulting in social exclusion, bullying, and physical attacks. The isolation and physical assaults on this community creates anxiety and mental health conditions, including self-harm, suicide, depression, personality disorder, psychosis, post traumatic disorder, and eating disorders. To affirm a gender identity that is different from the gender a person was born to is referred to as “transition”. The lengths to which an individual will go to transition is varied with some people choosing to change only their dress and mannerisms and others to undertake medical interventions such as hormonal therapy and/or surgery. In Australia, there is limited capacity within the health system to support the needs of the trans and gender diverse (TGD) population. Initiatives such as nurse-led post-operative support service need to be created as a way to address this. This service could provide patients with nurse advocates working collaboratively with other health professionals to provide primary health solutions.

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International Journal of Healthcare  ISSN 2377-7338(Print)  ISSN 2377-7346(Online)

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