Experiences in Healthcare
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Experiences in Healthcare

In the largest European study to date, trans persons reported inappropriate curiosity of care providers, ignoring trans-specific needs, being pressured to undergo a medical or psychological test, being treated unequally by medical staff, not seeking treatment due to fear of discrimination and intolerant responses, and difficulties in accessing healthcare (FRA, 2020). Many trans persons also experience fear and shame when a physical examination may be involved when visiting a care provider. 22% of trans respondents to the FRA LGBTI II survey published in 2020 reported feeling discriminated against when using healthcare or social services in Malta.

Often negative health care experiences of trans persons do not arise because of the caregiver's malice, but rather from lack of knowledge and awareness about transgender issues. The TGEU Trans Health Survey (2017) found that only 35.5% of healthcare professionals received any training on working with trans people. There are often no policies or protocols in place. In most instances the general practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist want to help transgender clients, but they have little to no information about the subject (Motmans, Wyverkens, & Defreyne, 2017). The knowledge and research developments with regard to this topic are indeed still fairly new and it is an exception rather than the rule when transgender topics are included in the curriculum of healthcare providers’ educational institutions.

The multiple negative experiences of trans persons with health care providers have a far-reaching influence on the person. Many trans persons will in turn avoid seeking health care services, and will only call on a health practitioner in very serious cases or after a long time of experiencing mental and/or physical distress (Burgwal & Motmans, 2021). This has serious consequences on their physical health, but can also cause mental health difficulties. For a number of trans persons, a negative experience with a care provider can even be traumatic. This further complicates their access to both general and trans-specific health care.​

  • Burgwal, A., & Motmans, J. (2021). Trans and gender diverse people’s experiences and evaluations with general and trans-specific healthcare services: a cross-sectional survey. International Journal of Impotence Research.​
  • Fundamental Rights Agency. (2020). A long way to go for LGBTI equality. Publications Office of the European Union. https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2020/eu-lgbti-survey-results
  • Transgender Europe, Overdiagnosed but Underserved, 2017
  • Motmans, J., Wyverkens, E., & Defreyne, J. (2017). Being transgender in Belgium. Ten years later. https://igvm-iefh.belgium.be/nl/publicaties/leven_als_transgender_persoon_in_belgie_tien_jaar_later