According to the statistics, almost 1 million Americans identifies themselves as transgender, making it a numerous population subgroup that is likely to expand in the future. At the same time, transgender people face an enormous amount of discrimination in our society. They are much more likely to fall victim to violence at school, at work, or in the streets. Transgender prisoners are vulnerable to acts of prison rape.
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Due to constant stigmatizing, transgender patients are more likely to develop depression, suicidal thoughts, and other associated psychological disorders. These factors, combined, are making them more dependent on the local healthcare institutions. However, the amount of discrimination and prejudice against transgender patients within the healthcare system effectively prevents them from receiving quality medical care. The purpose of this paper is to discover the sources of prejudice against transgender patients within American healthcare institutions and propose ways of improving the situation.
Discrimination from Healthcare Providers and its Impact on the Transgender Community
According to Poteat, German, and Kerrigan (2013), the main source of prejudice in medical workers against transgender patients comes from uncertainty in how to deal with their needs. Despite the fact that ACA is said to provide healthcare to all genders and does not discriminate against transgender patients (at least, in theory), current healthcare education facilities do not include the needs of these patients into their curriculum. As such, many doctors do not know how to properly approach transgender patients and treat them with caution and suspicion. In many cases, they rely on personal prejudices to impose their medical authority. This damages the relationship between the doctor and the patient.
Another important factor to consider is that many health insurance agencies deny their services to transgender patients on the grounds of linking the gender transition operations to healthcare coverage (Stroumsa, 2014). As it stands, most insurance companies do not cover these operations in their policies. Without proper insurance, transgender patients have to pay exorbitant prices out of their pocket whenever they require healthcare aid.
As the result of these discriminations, which stem from a lack of understanding, lack of applicable knowledge, and lack of accommodations, and personal prejudices, transgender patients actively avoid the healthcare system. This is connected to many health-related problems, such as obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, lung diseases, and psychological disorders.
Potential for Improvement
While the degree of prejudice within the society as a whole is not within the scope of the US Healthcare system, systematic discrimination must be eliminated from its medical centers and insurance companies. The government must issue policies to protect transgender patients from discrimination and forbid refusal of insurance on the grounds of gender transition operations (Stroumsa, 2014). In addition, all federal grants and medical communities must introduce post-gradual education courses to teach the staff to address the needs and issues of transgender patients. This knowledge should also be incorporated into the standard medical education curriculum (Stroumsa, 2014).
Transgender patients face discrimination within the healthcare system. As a result, they become reluctant to address their own healthcare needs, which leads to the development of acute and chronic diseases and increases their mortality rates. In order to improve the situation, medical staff must undergo additional training to be able to address the needs of transgender patients. Insurance companies must be legally obligated to provide insurance coverage to transgender patients.
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Poteat, T., German, D., & Kerrigan, D. (2013). A grounded theory of stigma in transgender healthcare encounters. Social Science and Medicine, 84, 22-29. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.02.019
Stroumsa, D. (2014). The state of transgender healthcare: Policy, law, and medical frameworks. American Journal of Public Health, 104(3), 31-38. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301789