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American College of Nurse Midwives urges quality care for trans and gender variant people

January 17, 2013

Anyone else feel like it really is a tide that is turning these days? The American College of Nurse Midwives issued a statement in support of working towards quality, competent care for trans and gender non-conforming people. Woo-hoo! While it may seem like this is a no-brainer, it’s actually a big step in the right direction for ensuring that trans people can find medical care that doesn’t try to pathologize trans identity, and hopefully someday with providers who understand the needs of trans folks.

From the statement, issued in December of 2012:

It is the position of ACNM that midwives:

  • Exhibit respect for patients with nonconforming gender identities and do not pathologize differences in gender identity or expression;
  • Provide care in a manner that affirms patients’ gender identities and reduces the distress of gender dysphoria or refer to knowledgeable colleagues;
  • Become knowledgeable about the health care needs of transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people, including the benefits and risks of gender affirming treatment options;
  • Match treatment approaches to the specific needs of patients, particularly their goals for gender expression and need for relief from gender dysphoria;
  • Have resources available to support and advocate for patients within their families and communities (schools, workplaces, and other settings).

That all sounds great to me. It’s actually a really fabulous statement, much more comprehensive and far-reaching than the one issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists last year. It addresses the need for education about transgender issues in midwifery education, and even the fact that it enumerates the different identities: transgender, transsexual, gender variant, gender non-conforming, is a big step that I haven’t seen many other medical bodies take.

This is my favorite part:

As many as half of gender variant individuals report having to educate their health care providers about their health care needs, but gender variant people do not by default have unique or complicated health issues. Most members of this community require the same primary, mental, and sexual health care that all individuals need. The most important thing all midwives can do to improve the health care outcomes of gender variant individuals is to use their skills to provide care that is welcoming and accessible.

Amen to that. I would say the same thing for doulas.

It’s really incredible to witness the strides being made, while still acknowledging the serious barriers and often really challenging conditions that trans people face in the United States. A longform journalistic article I wrote for Political Research Associates was recently published, and in it I explored a new ad campaign run by the DC government that tries to address discrimination against transgender people by promoting trans respect and awareness. It was a pleasure to interview the many folks involved in working to improve conditions for trans people–it’s clear just how much incredible activism has been happening, primarily led by trans folks themselves. But it was also a reminder of how far we have to go, and how trans and gender variant people face serious discrimination in pretty much every area of life. You can read the article here.

Lastly, another new resource from a group I used to work for, The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, about creating health care that is inclusive of trans and gender variant Latin@s.

h/t Claudia Booker for the ACNM link

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