Considerations on medical training for gender-affirming care: Motivations and perspectives

Int J Transgend Health. 2019 Nov 18;21(1):79-88. doi: 10.1080/15532739.2019.1689880. eCollection 2020.


Background: Many transgender individuals lack access to needed medical care, partially due to a lack of providers with experience in gender-affirming healthcare. Aims: The purpose of this study was to identify professional motivators for medical providers seeking out training in gender-affirming care and to define which training experiences were most beneficial to their career development. By identifying experienced providers' recommendations on which training modalities are most relevant to their practice, we aim to suggest future directions for medical education initiatives to effectively expand the transgender care workforce. Methods: A voluntary cross-sectional electronic survey was distributed through professional listservs and publicly-available referral lists to interdisciplinary providers who self-identified as having experience in providing care to transgender individuals. Results: One hundred and fifty-three (n = 153) physicians, physician assistants, or advance-practice nurses responded to the survey. The majority (96.7%) were located in the United States, representing 37 states. The two most common motivators for seeking out training in gender-affirming care were filling a need in the community (73.0%) and/or having met a transgender-identified person in a clinical setting who requested care (63.8%). While many providers gained skills independently (57.3%), the two most commonly-available training opportunities were professional conferences (57.3%) and mentorship (41.3%). Respondents were most likely to recommend that others in their field be trained via structured clinical experience (e.g., a rotation or longitudinal exposure during training), rather than additional didactic training. Discussion: This study identifies key high-yield training methodologies which could improve access to quality gender-affirming healthcare. Through integration of structured clinical experiences during training, direct clinical mentorship, and professional development at conferences on gender-affirming care, the workforce of welcoming and prepared healthcare providers for transgender patients will increase. This will lead to a tremendous improvement on access to gender-affirming care in our communities.

Keywords: mentorship; Transgender; gender dysphoria; medical education; training.