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Critique Essay History Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences

Transgender Veterans Are Inadequately Understood by Health Care Providers

By Nancy Lutwak, MD, William Byne, MD, PhD, Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, Zander Keig, MS, MA, Jillian C. Shipherd, PhD, Kristin M. Mattocks, PhD, and Michael R. Kauth, PhD, 2014

Transgender individuals face challenges dealing with health care providers. For reasons that are poorly understood, the prevalence of gender dysphoria (GD) in veterans is higher than in the general population. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) health issues, particularly those of the transgender community, are inadequately covered in recent medical publications and most training programs, and previous negative experiences in health care settings have created barriers for appropriate care of transgender veterans resulting in decreased preventive services, continuity of care, and life expectancy. Future research must focus on the unique needs of transgender veterans so that health care providers have greater understanding and are better prepared to render appropriate care. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to providing sensitive, evidenced-based care and has made significant progress in achieving this goal although much remains to be done. Transgender individuals, including those who meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 (DSM-5; APA, 2013) criteria for the diagnosis of GD, are inadequately understood by health care providers. For reasons that are unclear, the prevalence of GD in veterans is higher than in the general population, even though individuals with GD cannot serve openly in the military.1,2 VA is committed to caring for transgender veterans who require sensitive, evidence-based care and has made significant progress in achieving this goal although much remains to be done.

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