Wednesday, November 16, 2016


One of the questions that I hear most is “Where can I find a trans friendly doctor?” there is an article in Scientific America about the history of trans healthcare.
A History of Transgender Healthcare
As the stigma of being transgender begins to ease, medicine is starting to catch up
By Farah Naz Khan
November 16, 2016

An estimated 1.4 million Americans, close to 0.6 percent of the population of the United States, identify as transgender. And, today, the topic of transgender health care is more widely discussed than ever before. Despite this, lost in the shuffle between conversations about equal access to bathrooms and popular culture icons is the history of a piece of modern medicine that should no longer remain so elusive. To be willing to embrace the future of this pivotal area of healthcare, it is imperative to understand the piecemeal roots and evolution of transgender medicine.

Magnus Hirschfeld, a German physician who could easily be considered the father of transgender health care, coined the term “transvestite” in 1918 at his Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Defining transvestism as the desire to express one’s gender in opposition to their defined sex, Hirschfeld and his colleagues used this now antiquated label as a gateway to the provision of sex changing therapies and as a means to protect his patients. Going against the grain, Hirschfeld was one of the first to offer his patients the means to achieve sex change, either through hormone therapy, sex change operations, or both.

In a time when his contemporaries aimed to “cure” transgender patients of their alleged mental affliction, Hirschfeld’s Adaptation Theory supported those who wanted to live according to the gender they felt most aligned with, as opposed to the gender that their sex obligated them to abide by. Much of the history of the institute’s early works were destroyed in the wake of the Nazi book burnings in 1933, but as far as history can prove, Hirschfeld’s institute was the first to offer gender reassignment surgery.
The article goes on to talk about Danish painter Lili Elbe, Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Christine Jorgensen, Henry Benjamin, and others.

The article says this about Kinsey,
World War II and Nazi Germany forced Hirschfeld into exile and this along with the destruction of his Berlin institute, minimal further advancements were made by his group at that time. Pioneering influences in America began emerging in the 1940s, including Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the biologist who founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University in 1947 (now known as the Kinsey Institute). Kinsey was one of the first to use the term transsexual in his gender studies, and he helped introduce America to a concept that for some reason still seems foreign to many today despite its obvious place in history for years.
Unfortunately, because it seems “foreign” to many we are now facing backlash and draconian laws.
Modern transgender healthcare encompasses all of the above, along with a shift in focus on patient care. Our transgender patients are like all of our other patients, and their gender identity is just one facet of their overall identity. Multidisciplinary clinics that focus on key issues for transgender patients are important, because they can provide access to subspecialists who can focus on hormone therapy, fertility questions, mental health, etc—but equally important is the understanding that transgender patients need to be able to see a primary care physician for their common cold without fear of stigma due to their gender identity. We can only hope that these widespread stigmas and hesitancies will dissipate with time, because as history has clearly proven, where there is a will, there most certainly is a way.
In some parts of the country we still face widespread discrimination in the healthcare industry and in some states the legislatures are proposing laws to make it legal for doctors not to treat us.

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